(Closed) Anyone else catering their own wedding?

posted 4 years ago in Food
Post # 2
7559 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

You need to plan the food around what equipment you have, because improper or inadequate cooking/heating/serving temperatures can get everyone very, very sick. You basically have just two hours to take food from the fridge, heat it up, serve it and consume it before it’s considered unsafe. Bacteria doubles every 20 minutes at temperatures between 45*-140*F. It’s especially important to handle high-protein, high-water foods carefully between these temperatures because the combination of warmth, moisture and protein are an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. So before you begin planning recipes and figuring out who will go get beer, look at what you have to work with. When you cook your food the day before, where will you cool it? Can you cool it from boiling to below 45* in less than 2 hours? Can you hear it back up the next day, arrange it and serve everyone before that 2 hours runs out? How will you keep it hot while people are being served?  A lot of people change their minds about self-catering because they don’t have the right fridges at home and don’t have the right ovens at the venue.

Post # 4
2356 posts
Buzzing bee

View original reply
quianaa2001 :  if you have people you can trust to help get the food out to your guests and all the proper cooling heating etc and you don’t think you are gonna be crazy stressed then I say do it. But will you have enough time to make stuff. That’s the last thing I’d want to do before my wedding. Having enough food for 60 people isn’t a small undertaking. 

Post # 5
1744 posts
Bumble bee

You really have to think through portion sizes and plan if you have enough fridge room at home.  Gumbo serving size 6 oz?  Thats 6*60 = 360 oz ( = 22.5 lbs of Gumbo).  If you try to reheat that in something deep like a lasagna pan or crockpot  it will take lots longer than in a shallow pan.  You have consider how many ovens you have for reheating and how long(safety) wise it will take. 

You will need to think through step by step planning.  When to prep. when to cook, what pans you’ll cook in, how many batches you’ll need to make, specifically who will load up the food at whart time,how much time it will take to travel unload the car, set up and star to reheat.  

Who will keep refreshing pans?  

Chafing dishes will keep food hot, but is there enough oven space to bring it up to temp?  

you have some time.  Why not do all the thanksgiving cooking at your house and transport it to your mothers house and set up and serve there to get a sense of what is required. 

It isnt’ just the cooking part – that’s the relatively easy part it’s the logististics of safety, transporting, setting up etc that are more challenging.  It’s doable, but will be easier if you or your family have ever had a back yard BBQ for 50 people.


Post # 6
9520 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

Have you had your engagement dinner? If not it might not be a bad idea to do a test run. Similar foods (soup instead of gumbo, different chicken, ect) for a large crowd but smaller than will be at the wedding. If it is easy, no stress and you can work out the kinks then do it for the wedding. But it is a large project and very risky. 

Hate to say, but nixing the candy buffet and coffee bar to hire a catering company would make your life much easier.

Post # 9
1744 posts
Bumble bee

View original reply
quianaa2001 :  Thankgiving could be a’lite’ trial run (but I doubt you’ll have 60 for thanksgiving dinner).  Just make it as realistic as you can.  

Set a serving time and see if you an put food out at that time.  Take everything with you. Don’t assume you’ll just use mom’s serving spoons and dishes … if you need to take serving spoons to the church for the reception, take them to mom’s.  If you need to worry about plates at the church, then carry in plates to mom’s.  If you need to reheat the green bean casserole at mom’s don’t take it pre-heated unless you plan to do that at the church)  Look at how long it takes you to load up the car for just a few things and how many people it took.  Once you get to mom’s don’t let everyone help unload and set up – unless you’ll have lots of people at the church to be extra hands.     

Post # 10
108 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

We self catered our wedding for about 80 people, and I’ll be helping my sister self cater her wedding next year. Honestly, it wasn’t that difficult. It’s all about picking the right dishes. We went with BBQ because it was the easiest thing to do. I made the pulled pork the night before in my crockpot, unplugged it and took the whole thing to the venue (about 15 minutes from my house) and plugged it back in to finish cooking there. The brisket came straight off the smoker just before the reception. All of our sides were either cold (a couple of different salads that we pulled out of the fridge right before dinner) and room temperature (bread rolls).

For my sister’s wedding we are doing a chili bar. The plan is to use the crockpots, which will make it super easy. All of the apps and sides are cold and room-temp so that we don’t have to worry about reheating (her theme is tea party, so a lot of variations on little sandwiches that can be made ahead of time, popped in the fridge and pulled out when it’s time to eat).

Just make sure you have help. I was so grateful that my aunts oversaw setting out the food, as I was way too busy to do it myself (as I had been telling everybody I would be, lol)! Also, make sure to have a plan in place for those helping out. They will need to know when and where to put the food! 

Some dishes will be much more difficult to do (I don’t think I would be brave enough for fried chicken), and keep food safety in mind when making your choices! 

Post # 14
1807 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I did it! I was in Uni and had no money for caterers. We had grandmothers making all sorts of things – cabbage rolls, pyrogies, squares, cookies, side dishes, I made pasta dishes. We had the wedding at a friends big manor house and used their kitchen to warm all the food. We had about 75 people. The grandmothers did all the heating while we had our photos taken. It went well because we never left the venue – food didn’t really need to be carted anywhere. It turned out wonderfully and it sure saves a lot of money – although it is a huge stress the day before your wedding to be making huge pans of pasta instead of getting ready for the big day! 

Post # 15
989 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2016

We (mom, me, and friend) did chicken and sausage gumbo, red beans and rice, and shrimp creole for 100.  salad bar, hot cocoa bar, sodas, coffee,and bread pudding with whiskey sauce to finish off. 

We used electric roaster ovens to keep everything hot.  the dishes were prepared at home the night before and refrigerated overnight, then we brought on ice to venue and reheated in ovens.  the rice was made the day of.

I took the week prior to wedding off to prepare.  I also decorated myself, with help from friends and family.  

And I was exhausted at the wedding.  

I don’t necessarily regret doing it (saved lots of money) but I would have done just one dish, pared down the amount we did, and gone simpler.  

I’d just precaution you to enlist as much help as possible and don’t try to control every aspect as I did.  I’d have enjoyed my own party much more.

Good luck!

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