Self-catering our wedding?
Hi there -
Yes, I know that this may sound crazy, but I was a chef for several years, just not in NYC. I feel like I can get the food together for 100 people, save money and have good food. Most importantly, have good food and not feel like I am spending a premium for food that I could do myself.
That said - any suggestions are very welcome. I may just be crazy, but we are having 100 people at our backyard in Brooklyn.
All of the food will be done in a cocktail hour style with 4 different barbeques going.
We are especially concerned with waitstaff, hiring a cook for the day to do all of the finishing and maybe some other things I haven't seen yet. I'd like to know about resources in Brooklyn & the area as well.
This isn't a glamorous affair - I'm a school teacher and my fytyre wife works in non-profit. We want to have fun and not go broke.
We're planning this for July of this year. Any ideas?
I love the shrimp and avocado salad (I live in SoCal) and the green bean and potato salad ideas.
I wouldn't do the hamburgers and hot dogs. I'd replace with mini meatballs or mini meatloaf sandwiches or cold sliced meatloaf and/or smoked sausage cut into slices and served on picks with an apricot mustard sauce. I'd just want to avoid the condiment messy dilemma.
Yes laliz, I am not a fan of the hot dogs and burgers either, but there will be a few kids in the mix, so best to make sure. And, more likely, my brother who is not the most adventurous eater. They'll be the absolute lowest priority on the menu - I don't plan on preparing more than 20 and it will be pretty much self-service. With all of this, if you want a hamburger, you get it yourself.
It's just that, inevitably, someone will. And once that person has one, a few others will. But not too many, I think.
Spicy condiments are a must, but I think we can easily deal with that with a few bottles of good hot sauce, no? I am looking to amp up a few other things as we go, but I want to keep it simple. Like fresh limes for the pernil. Simple, but so good.
Sherri - avocados could sink the recipe, you're right. I haven't thought of a good alternative to it, tho'. Maybe a sweeter recipe with a spicy papaya salad...?
My goal now is to have a lot of the pressure taken off the last-minute prep. I just spoke to the woman handling the pernil and her work is still very good. Deliciously tender and not greasy at all. And I hear she can keep it up with larger orders.
Sorry; I'd rather not be righgt because I really like the sound of shrimp-avocado salad. I tried to come up with a fool-proof avocado dressing for the shrimp but succeeded only in making green glop to cover the pink shrimp - delicious, but not very pretty to look at. Oranges & red onion (sturdy soldiers that they are, can be prepped ahead and gold very well) with shrimp would be fool-proof as well as wilt-proof but you lose the avocado-ness you had before. I'll continue to think of a solution. How long do I have? When is the wedding?
Edit: "toast points"? I missed this before. How about pita wedges instead? Can be made ahead and frozen, go very well with hummus and don't remind me of 1950 chicken a la king!
Pita wedges are a fine idea. "Toast points" is my own crown roast of phrasing. I'd like to have multi-grain baguettes sliced nicely. They go well with a lot. Pita is easy, tho'. Very good point.
I'd like to work out the avocados. I've been tempted to buy a heap and try to ripen them myself. Now that I write it down, it doesn't sound like such a good idea.
The party is July 26th.
An avocado grower in Escondido CA told me the key to buying good Haas avocados is buying them green & hard, ripening them yourself in a brown paperbag. If you can find them unrefrigerated, so much the better. If you buy twenty, needing only ten your odds would be pretty good that you'll get what you need. "Squashamole" will take care of the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time others.
Do you have a great produce market in Brooklyn? If not, can someone ship them to you? I live in the Phoenix area and have never shipped avocados but they do have to get across country somehow ......... somebody must know a way to get perfect avocados to you by July 26th.
I never did answer this, did I?
It went amazingly well and I had a tremendous amount of help. In the end, we had to trim some of our ideas and expectations and to go with what was fresh in the market. For example, we went with 24 dozen clams instead of shrimp because I'm from Long Island and used to clam and well, they were a great market price. Beer broth and they went over like mad.
The pernil from La Fe in Sunset park was AMAZING and a real hit. cupcakes from Downtown Atlantic were excellent and a huge hit. In the middle of all of this, we did a lot of quality cheeses (check out the $5/lb. reggianito at Colluchio's TOO good - no kidding). We splashed out on nice cheese (a $250 cheeseboard - wholesale price) and green salad, pasta salad, a series of small fresh fruit options, grilled arichokes and summer veggies all rounded it out.
We pre-cooked the bbq chicken to expedite the finish on the blazing-hot grill (10 minutes to finish & char nicely) and we got rid of the chicken satays. Too labor intensive for our purposes. The giant clam broth pot solved the appetizer problem and a selection of good dips made the crudite more interesting: Hummus, RRP and walnut & a light creamy ranch dressing.
In short, this was the best wedding Ive ever been to, if I do say so myself. Unpretentious, fun and with excellent food.
Thanks to everyone for their help in this board!!!
What really made it all happen were the 3 friends of mine working the event. They made sure everything went off on time and that everything was finished on time.
It sounds like you have enough people lined up to help, but in case I read that wrong and you're still looking, i have a thought: if you have friends in difficult financial circumstances you might work out a deal where they stay afterwards to help in lieu of a (tangible) wedding gift. Might sound tacky to some, but I thought it was worth passing along. Congratulations and have a wonderful wedding!
We're trying to limit gifts in any case. We're a bit older (37 & 40, respectively) and we have a lot of the things that we need. While a new TV would be nice, it seems silly to ask for at a wedding. We have dishes and all of the usual things one needs around the home.
I think we'll get a lot of folks volunteering. These have all been excellent ideas and they've really helped focus (and question) my thinking. THanks so much to everyone that chimed in.
This may be crazy, but I think it will also be fun. We don't want a formal affair, we want to have fun. Managed right, I think this will be more fun than stress. Maybe only just a little more fun than stress, but I hope we can strike the balance.
Hi again -
Okay, now we are getting very close to when the wedding will be and we are trying to work out a final menu and we are trying to think of all of the last-minute things that might come up. We are also concerned about quantities to prepare - any advice on that is incredibly welcomed.
For starters, I need suggestions for any slight tweaks or accompaniments that might be good to include with these dishes. We have decided to go with pernil for a main dish to take stress off the barbeques (we'll have 3 running) and to make sure we have a main that can be brought out quickly. Anything that can be jobbed out to a restaurant and done well and economically, I am very open to.
Now that we have the basics, I want to be able to jazz this up, keep it within the culinary limits of my workers and feed 90 people. Our guest list keeps getting bigger.
Am I being too bland? Pleas help!
Fish: Shrimp Avocado Salad
Grilled: Hotdogs & Hamburgers
Chicken Satays; Roast/ Barbeque herb Chicken
Green: Mesclun salad with vinaigrette dressing
Pasta: Orzo or other pasta salad
Potato: Green Bean and Potato Salad “Warm Vegetable Salad”
Assorted Cheese & Cracker Platter
Toast points with assorted spreads - bruschetta, hummus, muffalata, etc.
Dips: Hummus & veggie dip
Wedding Cupcakes n/a
Fruit Platter Create up to two days before depending fruit
Assorted Cookies $ Purchase day before if fresh cookies
Sangria Create day before
Bottled Beer n/a
Assorted Liquors n/a
Non-Alcoholic drink (Soda, iced tea or juice)
Luckycat, this sounds like a great menu! It is rare to get this kind of variety at a wedding. It is not too bland, it sounds like it will be quite the feast, and I think as long as you feel this is realistic, go with it. I recall you have experience as a professional in the field, so I believe this would be realistic for you. As you get closer to this big day, remember to not sweat the small stuff and to make sure that you and your partner are having fun and savouring this wonderful time.
(well, perhaps one small thing, but I bet you have already thought of it. Maybe some spicy hot sauce for the meat? There are always chileheads lurking...)
I have only the mildest quibble, and perhaps you've already tackled the question of guaranteeing perfect avocados for your shrimp-avocado salad. I haven't had the greatest luck finding consistently perfect avocados and would be leery of this choice - and this choice only. I love the idea of pernil and think you're brilliant to come up with such a delicious choice. Must agree with moh's suggestion to include a spicy condiment - I'd be first in line for this!
Have a wonderful wedding and I congratulate you for making this such a personal celebration instead of the now-popular, over-the-top-circus. What a wonderful gift you're giving to your bride.
I'm not a professional but I have catered lots of meals for groups between 50 - 200. Regarding quantity, for a buffet-style menu like yours where there will be several protein, veg, and starch options, I generally plan a total of 4 oz. of protein, 2 oz of green salad, 3 oz. of side veg, and 4 oz. of starch. Multiply these amounts by the number of expected guests and divide by 16 and you get an approximate total weight (e.g., 4 oz. chicken breast x 75 = 300 / 16 = 18.75 lbs of chicken, total). Generally speaking, most people are not going to eat 13 oz of dinner in addition to the dips, crudite, bruschetta, bread, dessert, etc. However, some people will eat more than 12 oz and thus you usually end up with the correct amount of food using such estimates.
If you are leaving on your honeymoon immediately, you might want to consider getting someone to be responsible for any leftovers so you don't have to worry about those after the wedding.
The only other thing that jumps out at me is it seems as though you have lots of different dishes, multiple dips, spreads, and platters. You should give thought to how you are going to serve these and whether all of these items will fit on your buffet table(s). I literally measure my serving dishes and my buffet tables and draw a template ahead of time, showing where each dish will be placed. Then I give copies of the template to anyone who is helping me so that they understand the plan and can replenish dishes as needed during service. The other thing that you could consider (and I would recommend) is to reduce the total number of items on your buffet, focusing on your best/most successful food. In other words, your tried and true favorites. I think this would be less stressful for you and believe me, the guests will not have any less fun because of a few less food options. Good luck on both your meal and the wedding!
my husband catered our wedding (he was a chef as well) and while everything turned out brilliantly, he swears it was the dumbest idea he ever had haha. :) he was stressed out enough over the wedding, doing the food put him over the top. that being said, i am glad we did it - everything was delicious AND it saved us a bundle.
since we went to jamaica for our honeymoon, we went with that as a theme of sorts... lentil empanadas, a cold pasta dish with shrimp and mango, pork souse, to name a few... with the exception of making the empanadas, everything was easy to make in large batches. i would suggest sticking with something like that - if you have to make tiny little dishes for 100 people you'll go nuts. :)
in terms of servers, we hired some of my younger sister's college age friends who had banquet experience (the added bonus of which was they already had the black/white tux type outfits). i think we paid them each $50 or $100. we didn't have a sit down dinner, though, so they were charged mostly with making sure the chafers stayed full and there were enough plates/napkins/etc around, and picking up. my husband had a heck of a time handing the reins over to them, but they did great.
for the wedding cake, we ordered a rather plain 2 or 3 tiered dealy from the bakery our family has used for a million years, and decorated it with fresh flowers from the market. way cheaper than getting a big fancy to do, and really pretty at our outdoor summer wedding.
congrats, good luck and have fun!!!!
This sounds much like my father's third wedding... they're wine buffs, so they did tasting tables rather than sit down food (which you may or may not be set upon). It was really great, so if you decide you would be willing to do this type of menu, it's pretty simple with not a lot of last minute hastle. They had a sauv blanc paired w/ little boxed salads (they put em in chinese take out boxes); a pinot noir w/ a pork loin or a carved pork station; champagne and cheese, etc. Everyone really enjoyed the meandering and the social nature of sampling... Congratulations!
I agree with Bebe -- if you mention the word "wedding" the price of everything goes up about 20%.
While the economic aspect of doing your own catering sounds good, there is a LOT of preparation to consider, as well as all the other things people have noted above. Do you really want to worry about all of that on top of all the other things you need to prepare (like yourself!)? Im mildly amused that the OP is a guy, who, basically, just need to take a shower and put on a tux. The bride-to-be has many many other things to think about the day of the affair, and if one or more things fall through (the weather will ALWAYS do its own thing without checking with you) all she'll be able to think about during your ceremony is what's coming up later, rather than concentrating on saying her eternal vows to you.
I'm not saying dont do it -- as you can see from the postings above, it can be done, without turining it into a potluck picnic. Just keep in mind how you want to spend that special day, and also have a plan B. Personally I'd opt for a smaller guest list with caterers and help, but Im a veteran of two weddings, and believe me, although I thought I could do it all myself, I found the hired help WELL worth the $.
THis is all excellent advice and we are approaching this very cautiously. The menu is not going to be too complicated & we do have a backup caterer or two in mind. I plan to have almost everything done 2-3 days ahead of time, except for those things that must be. So: all marinades & sauces will be done earlier in the week and meats & dishes that need to be prepared will be done ahead of time.
The guest list is about 75 people. I have catered that single-handedly on a few occasions. Of course, I wasn't getting married the same day.
It's worth saying that I have been married once before and coordinated almost everything at that wedding.
Of course, I did get divorced, but there were other issues. No, really. They were.
So here are ideas so far:
Everything will be done like an extended cocktail hour - no entrees.
chicken kebabs with a simple marinade (prepared at dinner the evening before, which will be turned into a working party)
marinaded sirloins, put into soak the night before & grilled
Bruschetta, Olive Tapenade, Horseradish dressing, Raita
Ceviche & a cold seafood station - mussels, lobster, crab - all pre-cooked & chilled
I may or may not do lamb curry kebabs, depending on the quality of the lamb I can get
Heirloom tomato salad with light dressing, Charcuterie/Antipasto, olives, marinated mushrooms, tomato salad, etc.
It's got to be said that this won't be my most adventurous work, except for an item or two. What will be stand out are the accompanying sauces (I was a sous chef). Everything else will be high quality, basic ingredients.
The key thing is that the night before, we are having about 20 people by to help prepare stuff.
A long post - this is just the first draft. All comment & suggestions are very welcome. This has been so helpful already! Thanks everyone.
This all sounds wonderful!!!
You mentioned that you have a lot of fridge space, good. I didn't mention that my wedding day was one of the hottest of the year (40 degrees Celcius, that's really hot in Farenheit), and so food spoilage was always a worry. So in addition to planning for rain, also have a back-up plan for really hot! Food poisoning would really suck.
Also: will dessert be wedding cake? Might be also nice to have some fruit. But so far, food list looks fabulous!
Oh right - dessert. We live right near Bensonhurst and a lot of nice Italian bakeries, so there will be a bunch of baked goods, for a cake we will have a cupcake-cake made from this great cupcake bakery on Atlantic Ave, fresh seasonal fruit, zabayon (sp?), fresh cream, and an assortment of liquors and gelatos. I may make a few of my own, depending on time. I have some flower ones that I like (rosewater, hibiscus) and, of course, chocolaye. I want to keep it simple. It's going to be late July, so I also want to keep it cool.
And yeah, the Wedding Premium just ticks me off. Fortunately, it's also right near my fiance's 40th birthday, so we have that excuse.
Luckycat, this all sounds great! The only thing I would suggest: make sure it is doable. Prepared baked goods is excellent, because all you need to do is put it out. The sabayon sounds wonderful, but it might be a lot of headache. If you think you can pull it off, then by all means, go ahead. But an alternative might be to do the fresh fruit in a simple syrup flavoured with some nice spices or alcohol, so that you have a sauce, but it is all prepared beforehand, and it is easy to set out quickly. Simple is key! You want to make sure you have fun too. And it sounds like the food will be spectacular, so I think you can simplify the menu a bit and still have a wonderful banquet. It sounds great!
I know absolutely nothing about catering, and I'm single, but if you change your mind about doing it yourself? I'd get one of the vendors at Red Hook to do it. I imagine they are inexpensive (and I've been told, never use the word "wedding" when negotiating for food, but still, I'm guessing they're cheaper than a typical caterer), and that would be about as Brooklyn as you could get. Your guys could grill, everyone could pick what they want -- I think it'd be a hoot.
We self-catered! It was A LOT of work but the results were spectacular. We had the best wedding food I've ever tasted. Seriously. We got married in October and had Oktoberfest foods ... mmmm. I would get in touch with your chef friends again, my father was a classically trained chef and that expertise was essential in picking out items that are low cost, keep well, go together, and are easy to mass produce over several days. We also hired a chef and catering staff for the day of work, even though we had a buffet. It was essential. We had about 250 guests.
You seem to be in the NY area. We had a New England shore dinner. Steamed clams for app., lobsters w/ potato salad and cole slaw (prepared ahead) and for wedding cake/ dessert blueberry pie. w/ local wines. We did it all w/ a couple of tables, a gas cooker and big pot from the rent-a-center.
I agree that it can be done and be fun. Especially if you have family willing to pitch in. I had 200+ at the wedding in my father's large property. We rented the tables, chairs, and cloths. Went with paper plating. Bought the liquor, but hired a bartender (only for the champagne toast and the first hour or two of reception. After that it was self-serve) The older ladies from the extended relatives on my side did all the cooking with me. Everything prepped ahead. No appetizers as we had alot of hearty food and went right to the buffet after the toast. Baking was done with traditional Austrian recipes the week before- they all keep well. Cake was by a local bakery. Delivered 2 hours ahead and self decorated with edible flowers from the florist that did the wedding flowers. The main dishes were 2 rotisseries that we rented along with their "tenders"- 1 pig and 1 lamb. A large beef roast was done in the oven. My dad the ex-butcher supervised all that. People were fascinated with the spit roasting and salivating. The sides all made ahead were coleslaw, potato salad and fruit salad. We bought a ton of soft (yes preservative laden) buns for those that needed bread (Europeans!) People ate a ton and raved about the food. The live band added alot since we knew them, treated them like part of the family and they stayed way over their time wanting no extra money. Oh- also did hire one lady to help in the kitchen since the extended relative ladies were elderly and worn out from a week of prep. I was told everyone pitched in for cleanup which was really minimal- mostly trash pickup and the serving dishes. Have fun!!!!
Sherri, my non-dancing brothers aren't great all-around cooks, but they are the amazing on the grill. We are also buying tents for the backyards - all of them have sides & should provide some good shelter, just in case it rains. Basically, if it does rain, it will be a different event. We're hoping it doesn't, of course.
That's a fine reminder about not changing the menu. We're not planning to, but you're very right about last-minute ideas.
We're leaning toward the Spanish/Mediterranean direction.
Rental dishes and linens are a definite. As are staff - 2 waiter/bartenders is what I think we'll need. Maybe someone to finish the food, but I may just change things to keep that part easier.
This has been so helpful, it's amazing. If anyone has any more suggestions or ideas, I'd love to hear them. Thanks!
Boy, you are way ahead of the curve -- congrats on clear thinking and good planning. Go for it! Luckycat, this will be such a personal memory and wonderful experience -- it makes the wedding what it should be instead of a circus affair that is non-personal. Mediterranean is a terrific idea since so much of this wonderful food is best served at room temp. Vaya con Dios.
Sounds like you're all set, Luckycat, so I'll just give you the best advice I got re: the wedding, even though it may sound silly: DON'T FORGET TO EAT. You'll be even busier than the usual groom, and lots of them get so distracted by the "This is Your Life" scene that a wedding can become that they forget to eat. Enjoy, and congratulations.
I am a caterer and a lot of my friends are in the food industry, so when I got married (on a shoestring) the food had to be GOOD but I didn't want my friends working. I agree with other people that even if I thought I could do it myself, when the day comes there is SO much to think about.
In the end I talked to a middle eastern community center and they put me in touch with a caterer who made wicked food from her home (and middle eastern food is great at room temp) and she brought it in those huge aluminum trays. (A resto would do the same thing - good food with zero presentation) THEN i hired a small, tasteful caterer (everyone has a friend of a friend who runs a small tasteful catering business from home right?) and she plated all the middle eastern food for the buffet and provided some really lovely hors d'oeuvres. Staff was a must to make it go smoothly...I really think that once the party gets started you DON'T want to be tied up cooking because everyone wants to talk to you and you need to enjoy the moment.
In the end, I had a great time, and also everyone said it was the BEST food they'd ever had at a wedding...4 months later I get more comments about the food than anything else, and if I had to do it again (hopefully not!) I would do it the same way. It was casual but elegant and choosing a different cuisine made everyone think it was really special, even the hubby's super white grandparents.
Of course you don't want to break the bank, but at the same time, it's an important day with your favorite people all together and it's important that you have time to appreciate it all (in the days before, during the party, and you don't want to be DEAD after it ends!(. I did it for a very reasonable amount, but at some point you have to accept that ALL weddings cost more than you initially plan!
My only suggestion would be to hire people to come in and clean after the event, and maybe help during the day as well. Nothing ruins a good time for me than looking at the mountain of bottles and trash that need dealing with.
You may also want to look into renting plates, serving bowls, extra silverware, etc. so you're not stuck washing spoons mid-wedding. I say this as a grad student apartment dweller who always brings forks and plates to friends' dinner parties, though.
Yes, I think it can be done, but yes, I think a small cleaning/support staff will take the load off you during the day. Have a great time, and many congratulaitons.
My mum and my cousin (both excellent cooks) made a 17 item Korean feast for our wedding for 250+ people for our wedding, with the help of the Korean church ladies auxillary. We bought desserts from a local cake dessert shop, and my in-laws made two beautiful towers of fresh fruit which was very popular with the Koreans. We spent about $4000 for all the food, and a donation to the church for the auxillary groups help. People loved the food, and there was tonnes of it. The Koreans appreciated having korean instead of bland chicken and no kimchi. The non-Koreans enjoyed trying korean food. So self-catering can be very cheap and great.
Key thing: figure out how much help you will need to hire in order to keep it chill for you and your bride. You want this to be fun! Hiring a couple of people to help with serving, drinks, or clean-up won't break the bank, and will keep you from doing a lot of the mundane jobs. Then you don't have to rely on friends to do the dirty work either. I would especially try to get someone to help with clean-up. You want to relax after your big day! And to quote another poster, "However, my wife was adamant that i wasn't going to be in the kitchen all night at my own wedding." Make sure this does not happen!
Would you go with disposable stuff? If not, a nice alternative is to rent plates and glasses and cutlery and tables. There are companies that can rent out all this stuff, and you don't even have to clean the stuff, you just have to put it back in the box. It is more formal than paper plates, makes it more of a special event, but is easy to do. Something to consider if you are willing to spend the money. But it is more affordable than you might think.
Congratulations! I'm sure it will be a lovely wedding.
I've catered weddings myself, and also recently (re) married. I suggested I could cater ours myself, but my beautiful bride nixed that idea, even though it was "simple" and we had it at home. So we hired a local caterer. Food was OK, not great. But here's the thing. While I agree with you and others that it can be done, until you yourself have actually been the groom/bride at a wedding you simply can't appreciate how time-consuming and all-encompassing that role is. You will not have anywhere near as much time to spend with the food as you would under other circumstances unless you neglect the guests, and that is not a good idea since everyone wants to have his/her turn congratulating you, chatting with you, etc etc etc.
So based on experience, here is my advice. If you do go ahead with it, figure out a way to keep the food part extremely simple, pre-cook everything you possibly can, and do it in a way that it can either run on autopilot or have good helpers to take care of the food aspects while you are doing other things. The role of groom and the role of caterer are both very demanding at a reception, and anyone who tries to do both will inevitably short one or the other, or more likely both, unless it's planned out very carefully. Realistically, simple and wedding are two words that shouldn't be used too close together.
You seem to be focussed on seafood. Given the last-minute aspect of preparing that, I'd be a little concerned. You also mentioned several grills going. I don't know how big your backyard in Bklyn is, but with 100 people milling around, maybe including kids, I'd also be a bit concerned about that, not to mention the problem of getting things from the kitchen to the grills to be grilled then on to plates or whatever for serving. Space may be at a premium.
BTW, there will also be lots of last minute things to do in the days and hours leading up to the event, even if (you thought) it was going to be a simple wedding you are having. If you are cooking, then your bride-to-be will have to take on a greater share of all that, so it's definitely best if she's really supportive of the whole idea.
And yes, best wishes and good luck!
These are all such good ideas. A Korean wedding sounds amazing and we had given some thought to giving everyone their own barbeque pans, but that would have been insane.
We might go with disposable stuff, but we are still unsure. I think rentals dishware is a good idea. It's just that in NYC, everything winds up being more expensive than it should be.
This whole idea began just like it did with AntarcticWidow - I was talking to caterers and realizing that they were going to hand me the same stupid stuff anyone would do I checked out the menus on 10 different places and kept finding the same stupid food. I can make my own Bruschetta, thanks.
So yes, we want to do something special. I think we will pick a cuisine and run with it. We are looking to design the menu now, but I am thinking of 3 entree meats (fish/shrimp, chicken, beef, veggie) in different marinades, served on different bbqs which some of my relatives will run. My brothers, for example, will loving having something to do. They can't relax and they don't dance, so get them cooking.
For apps, a lot of stuff will be room temperature or cool. Fortunately, we also have 4 refrigerators available to us as the backyard is split into 4 pieces, shared with my four neighbors, all of whom are invited to the wedding. I may attach a photo to get anyone else's impressions. The layout is an issue by itself.
Please think about a "Plan B" in case it rains -- I haven't seen mention of this yet. I catered both of my sons' weddings; one here at our home and the second at the home of a relative. In both cases, we limited the guest list to what we could gracefully handle with bad weather. Doing things yourself makes a very personal statement of caring and the guests feel your thoughtfulness. By all means, do it AND take advantage of help from others (within reason). Be very specific about your wants and ask that their contributions are self-contained, i.e. if it needs a platter, they provide one, if there are heating or chilling requirements that those be provided as well. Rentals can save your neck; it's not necessary to get carried away with the three-tablecloth-per-table nonsense suggested by the rental companies. You and your bride-to-be know yourselves and know what you will enjoy and can afford. Sticking to a realistic budget and spending your money where you want to spend it makes the most sense. Good Luck!
P.S. - edit and added later, I caution you about making last minute food additions the day or week before the wedding. Make your menu, the simpler the better, and stick to it. It will be tempting to add "just this one thing" but resist. Your plan is already well thought out and need not be complicated by something that seemed like a good idea at the time. Voice of experience speaking here .......
Do your non-dancing brothers know how to cook? This is not a smart remark. Giving a non-cook a cooking job can lead to wedding day disaster because you'll end up having to rescue both them and your food.
we rented chafing dishes along with the tables. they were pretty cheap.
mom had a good idea on the chef/server need - check with local cooking schools and programs at community colleges! an inexperienced chef would benefit from cooking/serving at your event (exposure, experience) and you would benefit cost wise.
I am also a Chef and catered my own wedding 2 yrs ago. At first I insisted that I wasn't cooking for my own wedding, but I was in denial. The more I interviewed caterers the more I realized I was going to spend a lot of money on food that wasn't even close to mine and bitch about it all night long. Wasting a lot of money and then complaining about it didn't seem like an ideal situation. However, my wife was adamant that i wasn't going to be in the kitchen all night at my own wedding. What to do?
I came up with a menu consisting of 14 "small plates" (plus 7 or 8 desserts that were done ahead of time) that were all room temperature. In other words everything was done by 3am and I enjoyed my wedding like anyone else.
The food has since become legendary with those (65 guests) who attended.
Some years ago for our wedding reception, my husband and I armed ourselves with two 35" paella pans and one 17" pan for about 100+ of our family and friends. Keep in mind that my husband is an operating engineer (crane operator) and I am an executive assistant for an engineering company. I've always enjoyed catering on an informal scale and thought this would be an opportunity to test myself. Of course, our families thought we were nuts.
We cooked up one seafood paella, one chicken/chorizo paella for those who didn't like or were allergic to seafood, and the 17" pan of vegetarian paella. Everyone loved watching the "cooking show" and would jump in to help add the calamari, chicken, wine, etc. The interaction was so fun.
We thought we had a good tapas selection of serrano ham, manchego cheese, stuffed piquillo peppers, papas fritas with alioli, fried padron peppers, Cesar salad with a Spanish twist, but noooooo ... my family heaped on trays of lumpia, pancit, barbequed baby back riblets with a tangy Indonesian glaze, musubi, California rolls. Our Spanish-themed menu went international - so be it! There was sangria, champagne, beer and cocktails flowing throughout the evening. Everyone had more than enough to eat and drink.
We hired a group of jazz musicians to play for us and they were amazing. They played for four hours, we fed them and gave each of them a wedding favor. They were touched by our thoughtfulness, as they were used to being treated more like the "help". Our reception happened to coincide with a centennial celebration of the city we live in, so we also had a fireworks display to end a very special event.
Our families and a couple of friends stayed afterward to help clean/tidy up and it was done in no time. No meltdowns, no worries. If we had to do it all again, I don't think there is anything we would change. Everything went pretty smooth - except that I almost forgot to put the fish in the paella!
I self catered my wedding. I did have help from my brother to heat up the food. We had grilled beef tenderloin, crabcakes, pork roast, roasted potatoes and green beans. We made everything the day before (except beef tenderloin) and just heated it up the day of. I also made tomato-basil bruschetta & a spinich-artichoke bruschetta along with a boring veggie tray for cocktail snacks. I went very well and in the area I live in, I never would have been able to find a caterer to do that menu. All the caterers in our area do ham & roast turkey and halupkies as entree options.
Do it! seriously. dont pay anyone else unless it's your sous or cook that you trust.
DIY weddings are so easy and should be done more frequently.
I charge my friends cost and that's it for their weddings. (i am a professional chef as well) and they totally appreciate it.
no worries, and your friends will appreciate the NON-WEDDING tasting food and the thought put into it.
Yeah - we're sold on the idea & moving ahead and planning it.
The only thing I'm worried about is if there's anything I might not be thinking of. I just don't have anyone down here that I know well.
Is there anything I might be missing?
I also need to know good suppliers. Any suggestions for good reasonably-priced seafood?
How about fish tacos? You could grill the fish, have someone frying the tortillas, you can make the Mexican slaw ahead of time (grated cabbage, cilantro, garlic, fresh lime juice, jalapeno, veganaise, minced purple onion, and cubed avocado), and grill a firm fish like tilapia or marinated shrimp.
You could also have a pot of black beans going, a homemade Spanish rice, the fish tacos with the Mexican slaw, and big wedges of papaya with fresh lime. Good dancing food!