Self catering? Friend as photographer? No DJ? Help!

posted 3 months ago in Reception
Post # 16
546 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016 - Wedgewood Las Vegas

I wouldn’t do the self cater option. I’d find a way to have a local resturant do a buffet option, or hire a caterer.

My BIL and SIL did their own food for their wedding, and they had a similiar amount of guests. They cooked for the entire WEEK leading up to the wedding. It caused a lot of stress between them, and family. The food was also ‘meh’ (partially due to a lot of being cooked days ahead) and a lot of people didn’t actually eat due to food safety concerns as most of the food had been left out for hours by the time dinner was served. My hubby and I ended up getting dinner after their wedding was finished.

They also hired an amateur friend for photography, and were not happy with the results. The photos I’ve seen don’t look any different than family taking snapshots, but have some scary editing. 🙂

Seven years later, cooking the food and the wedding photography are still a sore subjects for them.

Post # 17
1381 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2017 - The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek

I think hiring your friend to do your photography should be fine. My friend hired a friend of hers when she was starting out, and her wedding photos were GORGEOUS. My DH and I ended up booking her, also for a relatively low price because she was just starting to get known. Now she’s charging almost twice as much as we paid. Have you seen your friend’s work? If you think her photos are fine, I’d go with her. You’re bound to get at least a few great photos.

I wouldn’t recommend self-catering. Our caterers were so helpful. They were there to set up and clean up, they made sure food was out and hot at the right times, and they made sure our night flowed smoothly. Have you looked into more affordable caterers? We only spent $2,000 for for huge portions of BBQ, veggie and fruit appetizers, plastic plates and silverware, 3 servers, 1 bartender, and probably a few more things I’m forgetting. We had 55 guests, so for closer to 100, it would probably be more like $3,500. I know some grocery stores also cater, so you could look into that too.

We considered doing our own music with an iPod. Since we picked ALL of our songs, I think we could’ve pulled it off, but we really liked having a DJ. He kept everything on schedule, announced all of the wedding party and us as we entered, and did a fantastic job mixing the songs we had sent. I was thankful not to have the stress of switching between playlists, dealing with potential technical issues, etc. You’d also have to look into renting and transporting equipment. You might be able to find a DJ who charges just a little more than it would cost to rent the equipment you’d need.

Post # 18
816 posts
Busy bee

nwilbur1 :  I agree with most everyone else on the food thing. If you plan to serve 100 people the amount of food you’d have to make would be a ridiculous amount of work, even if you did something super cheap and easy like Italian food (Lasagna, Spaghetti, etc.). I think you should find someone to cater – i know in my town BBQ is super cheap and if you spend a certain amount they even send some people to help serve the food, clean up, etc. 

I know its an extra expense but it will be so worth it when you don’t have to worry about if the foods gross, if its been sitting out too long, or whatever. 


If you don’t care about the pictures then I would just hire your friend. It makes the most sense; you dont have spend a ton of money on pictures and your fiance gets pictures. 


For the no DJ thing – I think making some play lists is a great idea the only thing i would worry about is someone to make announcements like when its time to cut the cake, or announcing you entering the reception. You could always ask your most outgoing guest to make those announcements for you. 


Post # 20
12670 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

This entire situation sounds like a recipe for disaster.  Friends as vendors has the potential of going horribly wrong (there are TONS of threads on this), and, as you said, you want a few great photos, and this friendly is merely okay.  Their skill won’t improve drastically in a short amount of time, and you’ll likely be disappointed.

Self-catering is also a ton of work, even for 10-15 people!  You have to get food at the right temperature, keep hot food hot and cold food cold, refill the stations, etc.  Have you looked into having a restaurant like Olive Garden cater your event?  Pasta is cheap and you won’t risk giving your guests food poisoning!

I think a ipod playlist is fine if you don’t want or need someone running the show and encouraging people to get up and dance.

Post # 22
758 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

Do you have insurance on your wedding? If you’re going to cook all the food and self cater, and risk poisoning someone, do you plan on writing all the food temperatures down when they come out of the oven, when they are served etc.? 

I only ask because if you don’t do this and if you do happen to give someone food poisoning and they (for some reason) decide to sue you over this and you have no even insurance your self catering could cost you a lot more than you intended on. I’m not saying it’s going to happen to you, but I’ve seen it happen before, where a couple didn’t cover all their bases with temps etc and it ended up costing way more than anyone would’ve ever expected. This could be an absolute nightmare. 

If you’re going to cut costs, do it some other way. Don’t self cater please. You’re asking for stress and trouble. Serving food to 100+ is time work and energy you could otherwise be spending enjoying your big day. 

As as for the photographer: you say you don’t care now, but if your pictures don’t come out as you expect or come out terrible I foresee one of those “help my wedding pictures are terrible but I hired a friend” posts in your future. Don’t mix business with friendship, it’s a bad idea. It’s easy to say you don’t care when you’re footing the bill but when you get the end result (and you say her pictures aren’t great, that’s very telling) I picture your future disappointment. 

I agree with pp: this entire wedding sounds like a recipe for disaster. 

Post # 23
986 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

nwilbur1 :  I understand not being able to reduce the guest list. Then, what I would do is trim in EVERY area possible to loosen up your budget, so you can have catering. It’s to protect you and your guests – trust me. The money you think you’ll save is not worth it.

Well, here are the areas where you could save: (1) Venue – try for very cheap or free, think state park or family friend’s house, (2) Invitations – design yourself and print at Vistaprint (you can mail to more traditional people and Paperless Post to the younger generation to save on postage), (3) Save The Dates – no need, (4) Favors – no need, (5) Bridal Party Gifts – cards, no gifts needed, (6) Wedding Attire for Bride and Groom – Try Ebay, Preowned Dresses and Tradesy, choose a suit purchase rather than rental, (7) Decor – minimal, keep it simple and uses as little florals as possible, don’t go crazy on Etsy signs, forgo the aisle runner, wedding arch etc (8) Wedding Bouquet / Bouts / Flowers – order silk from Etsy and China for bouquets & bouts (I ordered real-touch silk bouquet that looks so real for $6! for my bridesmaid – you won’t know the difference in pictures) but order bulk flowers from Sam’s or Costco for centerpieces, (9) Transportation – drive yourself, (10) Wedding Cake – Go to Sam Club- a three tier wedding cake feeding 70 people costs around $60. Purchase 1 dozen cupcakes for additional, (11) Alcohol – consider a dry wedding, or buying all alcohol yourself-stick with wine, (12) Photography – reduced the time, and ask for a per hour cost, (13) Beauty – do all hair, makeup, nails yourself or ask a talented family member, (14) Music – no DJ, playlist on iPod

That’s all I got! Good luck!!

Post # 24
596 posts
Busy bee

I would see if you can arrange to have a Day of Coordinator if it’s at all possible. That is my advice to almost anyone.  Having someone to oversee things rather than you or your FI having to do it can be a lifesaver. I personally think that most of the time DJs are very overrated and sometimes a aggrivation. Most wedding I’ve been to didn’t have a DJ. The one I can think of that did was snarky and rude, so I’m biasd. I liked the self made playlist for music when people did the music that way.

As for the photgrapher I think it could work fine for your situation. I would see about taking some portraits the day before to take the stress off of taking it all on your wedding day if you can. Overall I like your plan. As for the food plan, I worry about food being safe to eat even if it’s catered by the best top rated place in town so I can’t advise much on that.

Post # 25
67 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: December 2018

skip the self catering – even in nj I am able to find catering for under $15 pp.  By the time you come up with a menu and think through logistics of how to pre-cook and keept it hot you will wind up spending way more money doing it yourself.  You need to be able to enjoy the day!

Post # 26
1353 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

DO NOT self cater. I have heard so many stories (and have some myself) of this going terribly wrong. If you can’t afford to have a professional serve/cook food, cut your guest list. You can find reasonable catering prices at local restaurants, etc. Think outside the box. 

Post # 27
1712 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

I would do a cheaper honeymoon and treat my guests right. Meaning- CATERING with great food options and having extra food for people- no skimping on amount of food. Priorities, people.

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