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Jul 26, 2009 05:00 PM

Food Ideas for Brooklyn Budget Wedding

Hi there,

I'm getting married (in Dumbo) next summer on a tight budget, but food is super important to me. Because I'm on a really tight budget (hoping, perhaps crazily, to spend $1000-1500 on food for 120-150 people), I'm considering throwing a simple cocktail party with hors d'ouerves and cupcakes or cake.

Does anyone have any experience with providing good food on a budget for a large group? Does anyone know of any affordable caterers or restaurants that cater? Any suggestions for specific items to serve? Our venue doesn't have a super workable kitchen, just a "catering nook," by the way.

Thank you!


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  1. Passed canapes will cost just as much as a sit down dinner due to the staff/cutlery/labor involved. Your budget seems quite unrealistic for that many people if you want it caterered with really impressive, "fit for foodies" food, especially when you include tips, taxes, fees, etc.

    Cupcakes are definitely a good alternative to an expensive wedding cake (Sugar Sweet Sunshine in Manhattan is delicious and affordable and does weddings all the time). You also need to determine if you HAVE to have a tiered cake. I would also look into just picking up several different kinds of cake from a local bakery.

    If you want cheaper, I'd do buffet or something that's family style (BBQ or non-Western food like Indian?). Something where the restaurant drops it off, or you guys come pick it up?

    For more wedding specific stuff in Brooklyn, especially in keeping costs down, I would direct you to

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      To clarify, the food doesn't need to be impressive, just good.

      I love really simple food and some of my favorite restaurants are dives with good food. Non-Western is an option-- we love Indian-- though some of our family is less adventurous. Thanks for the indiebride recommendation.

      Does anyone know of any restaurants that would do drop off/pick up? We' d probably need a server for a buffet?

    2. You might consider havinga place like Sahadis or Waterfalls cater this. most likely you would still have to find someone to set up a serving (self-serving) area and a bartender. Who knows, maybe you could even have a REALLY GOOD place, like DeFontes make you some 6 foot heroes and supplement that with some lovely salads and snacks.

      Re the cake, why not consider a sheet type cake (red velvet, carrot, or such) from Cake Man Raven or another bakery in the community as a Brooklyn alternative to a highly styled wedding cake or cupcakes. The new Cake Ambiance store on Flatbush Ave could do such a cake for you. I havent decided to be a fan yet, but they are in this genre.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        Friend of mine did something like this--sprung for Cake Man sheet cakes. Great cake, it was a hit. I've heard very negative things about Cake Ambiance--you like?

        1. re: Mandymac

          I was not personally impressed but they do make red velvet and similar cakes.

      2. $10–12.50 per person isn't a realistic budget. But just to play ball with the numbers a bit... even going DIY and raiding the appetizers section of Trader Joes (Costco, your grocery of choice, etc.) for 7 different apps to feed 150 people (30 5-serving boxes of Thai spring rolls @ $2.69 = $80.70--six more similarly priced things) you're already up to about $570; add for dessert 1 1/2 CakeMan Raven sheet cakes (160 servings) or 150 CakeMan Raven cupcakes= $300, grand total almost $900.

        If you want to have alcohol at all, you'd probably need to do just beer/wine/soda--you can do a bulk order at many liquor stores and return any unopened unchilled bottles for your money back. Your "bar" would have to be self-serve (a bartender costs $35-$100/ hr plus tips) and I dunno if there are any permits involved.

        If $1,500 is your limit, I'd suggest slashing your guest list to 50 people or fewer. It's still a wedding even if it's smaller.

        1. Liz...
          Have you spoken with the Mgrs of the venue you're using? They may provide some suggestions.

          1. Wow. That budget is totally unrealistic. Cocktails/snacks/cake for 150 people? Booze alone for cocktails will eat almost the entire budget. You could get 2 buck chuck from Trader Joe's and order pizza. Maybe there is some cutsey way you could present it? I second the rec for Cake Man.

            3 Replies
            1. re: malibu

              I think it would be perfectly possible to feed a group that size something within the budget planned, not cocktails perhaps, but whats wrong with mags of pinot grigio and merlot from Costco liquors, say? or a few cases of cava for toasting? It depends on what the expectations of the OP are - there are a lot of ethnic or neighborhood food sources where the cost will not be so high, so I say dont despair - what will drive it up is service costs.

              1. re: jen kalb

                Right, I agree about the wine, which is why I suggested Trader Joe's. I have no ethnic food ideas for the OP. Dumbo isn't exactly an ethnic food mecca, which is another hurdle. Food will have to be transported from wherever *someone* can suggest. I wasn't being snarky when I suggested pizza. I think it could be done in a cute, quaint and for lack of a better descriptor...'Martha Stewart' way.

                Anyway, I would love to hear the outcome of this. If you can pull it off, you should document it and try to get it published in a wedding magazine.

                1. re: malibu

                  well, I already suggestted waterfalls and sahadi - either could do a delicious mezze spread. there are places like Soul Food Kitchen Ruthies, etc.which could do fried chicken, salmon cakes, mac and cheese etc if a more substantial meal was wanted. Two or three spiral hams from costco (about $25 each).would be an excellent supplement, cheese trays fruit trays, veg trays can be created at relatively little expense if there are a few helpers.

                  this is a chowhound board not a style site, so the OP has to decide whether interesting tasty and inexpensive food will meet her needs and whether she has the resources (friends and family) to cater for herself.. Little squares of pizza could be nice but it degrades when cool - ordering in pizzas for a wedding could be ironic I suppose, but if they dont taste good by the time they are eaten, it might not work too well.