- 8 years ago
- Wedding: May 2010
Now that it’s all over with and I’ve got all this positive feedback to keep me warm at night, I’m going to write all this down for posterity.
I decided very early on that I would not be paying someone $50 per head to feed my family and friends over-cooked, over-salted, amatuer food. Every single wedding except one that I’ve been to in the last 5 years has led me to feel sorry for the couple for paying for such lousy food. Off topic-I also was very discouraged in the early phases on my wedding planning when venue after venue had $10k catering minimums for Saturday night weddings. What the hell is up with that??
So, the plan began. Our venue really was the thing that allowed me to do this. We rented a bed and breakfast for the weekend, and it had 2 kitchens with 2 ovens. Many hurtles overcome with this, and I think this plan would not work with most reception halls because of time constraints/ caterer requirements by the hall. Also can’t forget to mention that my wedding was quite small-50 people. If you’ve got 250 guests this will not work.
I started by working out a menu that was not too ambitious. One meat, one ‘veg’, one starch. I ended up with braised beef short-ribs, roasted potatoes and stuffed shells in marinara. This would be served buffet style. Also planned for meat and cheese and fruit trays for apps.
The beef was perfect, no matter how long you cook it or leave it in a steam pan it stays deliciously moist and tender (braising is a buffet line’s best friend). The shells were a given because they were a pasta dish I could make in my sleep and would not require seperate saucing. The potatoes were easy, cut in half, season, roast, done.
I hired a ‘caterer’ ($265, appostrophies because they sucked) to just show up a couple hours before the reception and heat up the food I had made. This was my little cheat. My big cheat was to make the beef and pasta one week before the wedding and freeze it. Best thing I’ve ever done. The beef held up miraculously well, and I’d made and frozen the shells many many times with fantastic reheat results. The potatoes were roasted that day by the caterer.
The weekend before the wedding was my ‘food weekend’. Literally took the entire 2 days, plus Friday night to make the 60 lbs of beef and 135 shells. The beef requires a lot of beef stock, which I also made from scratch Thursday night. I’d already tested these recipes multiple times and also did trial freezing runs just to make sure I knew how the end product would taste.
A few days before the wedding I pre-ordered some dinner rolls and salad greens from my local supermarker. Also got the baby potatoes for a steal at a farmers market. Scored those little butter packets from a local grocery outlet. Salad dressing, cheese and meat tray stuff purchased at Costco, serving utensils found at the Dollar Tree (really great resource!). Fruit was surprisingly cheap at my local Aldi.
Tips for the ambitious bride:
1. Seriously, don’t do this unless you are extremely confident that you’ve got some skills in the kitchen.
2. List every single thing you will need and price check at a few stores. This includes disposable items, serving utensils…etc.
3. Delegate. You can’t do everything on your own. I gave out parts of my lists to family and bridesmaids to take care of for me.
4. Plan in advance. I had been working on this little project for 5 months before the wedding. Ten minutes a day or so, creative thinking, price checking…
5. Hire people to do the work on your big day, and make sure they don’t suck. My first choice had to cancel 4 weeks before the date, so I had to scramble and hire someone I wasn’t thrilled with. Thank goodness he didn’t make the food or I’d have really blown my top with him that day.
6. Hire a buss person. My family convinced me to stop being such a cheap ass and spend the $35.
7. Crown someone you trust to be queen bee in your absence while you go get pretty for your future hubby. I was very lucky to have such a great stand in, she really pulled it together for me.
8. Don’t let people tell you that you ‘can’t’ do it.
It went really well, and when people starting complimenting the food apparently one of my aunts let it drop that I’d made it all. So I got lots of extra love that day, and we had lots of delicious left-overs.
We spent about $950 on food and catering supplies, disposable back-ups, cups, the caterer, etc. That works out to a hair under $19 per person for a full meal with appetizers. Very happy it worked out and that I have such great friends and family that helped me. If any of you bees want to message me for more details please do!