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Planning DIY-catered wedding 150-200 people need advice

Have read some great tips on these boards and need some help with my self-catered wedding reception: outside in late May/ June. Planning a buffet/ passed appetizer type meal as follows: with about 4-6 apps planned per person
Buffet:
crudite platter w/ dips; antipasto platter w/ meats, chz, and marinated veg.
platter w/ gougeres, chz wafers (kind of cracker-cookies) and chz. "truffles w/ crackers, sun-dried tomato and pesto palmiers, puff pastry rounds (tarts) w/ tapenade and carmelized onions
bruschetta platter w/ tomato, white bean spread
Passed app:
chive "blini" with smoked salmon
"swedish" meatballs on picks
phyllo cups w/ blue chz, bacon, scallions
later, buffet w/ caesar salad and veggie slaw, french onion soup w/ parm croutons
"dinner" served fam. style: chicken and beef on skewers, grain pilaf
dessert large buffet including petits fours, cookies, tarts, etc.

That was long, sorry. Basically need to know if this sounds okay, too much or not enough, also for the chix and beef- will it be okay to make these ahead (poach chx and cook beef rare) and skewer ahead of time and grill fast to heat day of? I will have 2 servers/ 1 cook helpers -hired. Thanks so much.

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  1. I'd try and find out if there are any vegetarians or vegans.
    If there are vegetarians, their current meal will be a few apps, veggie slaw, rice, and desert. I'd bet vegetable skewers would work in seemlessly.

    1. I think the apps sound great! For the main, I don't think of skewers as really a family-style type of food. I would suggest more of a stew or something with a sauce. I also don't think French Onion Soup is great for this - those are usually served in single serve crocks with cheese melted over the top. If you want to do a soup, I would do a chilled potato leek in shot glasses with the appetizers. That's a nice spring flavor with some chives and maybe even dill....

      I would go for platters of grilled chicken pieces with a pan-style lemon garlic sauce over the top, a platter of grilled beef sliced thin with horseradish cream or a red wine reduction on the side, and a platter of grilled veggies with balsamic vinaigrette over the top. Then do smaller side bowls of the grain pilaf and salad you describe which sound great, and include a basket of artisan breads. Your desserts sound great, but keep in mind it may be hot, so nothing with buttercream or other thing that might get melty. Congrats on the wedding and good luck!!

      1. I like the idea of your french onions soup; it does not have to have melted cheese over the top.

        My advice on the main (skewers) is to skewer only ahead of time, don't precook because your chicken will have a tendency to dry out and the beef will be over cooked.
        You can thread the skewers a few weeks ahead and it can be frozen and thawed a day or two before the event. You do need a sauce or au jus for the meat so that it doesn't dry out. Other than my suggestions, everything else sounds great!

        1. If you are very lucky, then you'll get a reply from kchurchill5. She is very helpful. You might want to look up some of her posts on this board.

          1. I'd agree that for outdoors, ditch the soup. That requires yet another utensil. Also, the appetizer list is somewhat overwhelming. The goal is to make sure you can make enough ahead of time as possible because even assembling and replenishing will be a lot for your staff. I'd do a bit or arranging. Here's my adjustments.

            Buffet: crudite platter with dips, antipasto platter with meats and olives, platter with with chz turffles and crackers, palmiers
            Passed apps: puff pastry rounds, bruschetta, blini
            Buffet: caesar salad, veggie slaw, marinated veggies, grain pilaf, chicken and beef skewers, vegetable skewers,
            Dessert: just stay away from cakes and frosted things because they can "sweat" at room temp.

            1. thanks all for the great ideas. I do need to make the stuff ahead as much as possible, it's why I picked mostly stuff that can be done up ahead. only one veg. in the group- I was thinking maybe a corn and bean salad or roasted vegetable torte for her, haven't decided yet but I never even thought of veg. skewers! For the french onion, I will serve with gruyere and parm. croutons on the side. jenhen, I love your main dish platter ideas, I'm on a tight budget so I'm trying to serve something that is more of a "set" portion, but your ideas sound great. Cheryl- great tip for freezing the skewers, never thought about that. The chx will be served with a citrus sauce, the beef with a horseradish cream.

              1. Oh, and I live in NE PA, so I don't have to worry to much about it being hot, though I am using a glaze and poured fondant for the petit fours.

                1. I love your appetizers, but sorry to say, the entree sounds dated to me. And you know what? It's not easy doing brochettes, and to time the temperatures, believe me, I have done this meal, all the veggies on one skewer, chicken on one, and beef on the other. It's a pain. And they dry out quickly, Cooking for a large group, the timing is hard to pin down. A pilaff us another one I would not do, they are what everyone expects when they sit down to a banquet meal.

                  I love french cut chicken breast (where the wing is attached) or do a small filet or baby lamb chops. The sauces you can put with these are endless and are delcious. You can serve fresh green beans, and make a whole potato thats first simmered in broth, slice it but not all the way through, slide some great cheeses in between the slices like goat cheese, chedar or whatever, fan it out , then pop it back into the oven sprinkled with a buttered bread crumbs for more heat. It will be delicious and easy.

                  Not that long ago I'd gone to an event that included 500 plus, I was amazed at the performance and the quality of the dinner given the head count. To be honest I had thought in my mind that this was going to be very interesting. But let me tell you, they did an awesome job. The soup which I will not forget, was a shrimp bisque with a puff pastry topper. When we poked through the pastry the steam streamed out. It was nice and hot! Serving French Onion soup is lovely but it has to be hot, if you have the means to serve it that way then great, but that would be my concern.

                  Anyway you asked if it sounded okay, and this is my input. If you've already purchased you meat for the skewers just find a way to keep them from drying out and a nicer side rather than rice pilaf.

                  I saw a fruit bread pudding done today that was pretty much made with pennies. Not only delicious, but beautiful and yummy.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    I am with chef chicklet on the grilled meat. We used to always do this for a crowd and now have learned that it is time intensive and rarely works as well as we would like. Dry meat...if you really want it, please brine the chicken and use a good cut of beef - that will help.

                    Anyway, my first impression, having done several weddings and large events was that this is a really time intensive menu. And for your own wedding, you may not want to put in that amount of time.

                    I would think about large meats that can be braised and then cut into smaller portions. Short ribs, pork and brisket are all encountering a resurgence even in higher end restaurants right now. Presented properly, it is a fantastic choice. Serve with polenta which is easy to make in huge quantities. You can cook ahead and reheat slowly. We actually often have it sitting in a sous vide setup for the events to keep it warm - but you probably don't have one of thosesitting around : ).

                    Remember more variety is not always better. It is tempting to do 20 different things, but I have found for large events it is often overkill. I usually try to do 2 starches and a bread. 1-2 veggie salads, 1 other veggie side, a red meat, a white meat and a veggie entree, 3-4 appetizers, and 3 varieties of desserts (chocolate, fruit and nut or caramel flavor) - you can easily add on a crudite platter and bread/dip plate. If you are doing a cookie platter i think of that as one dessert. remember variety means people just nosh on more, and waste more.

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      hey chicklet -- those potatoes sound interesting (not for a big group but for my own smaller purposes.) Need a couple more details. Do you cook them all the way through before slicing? And how do you fan them out? Kind of in a curved fan shape? Do you serve these as a side dish or as more of an app? Any pictures, perchance?

                    2. It's not really spring-y, but short ribs are a cheap cut that you could do a long braise for beforehand, even freeze I think, then just reheat in the braising liquid. They're also "portions," sort of. Could go with polenta, which is cheap and reheatable, plus some pickled onion or something? I think there was a similar dish from the Lucques cookbook, with a horseradish sauce.

                      Or if you don't mind going homier you could do bbq ribs and pulled pork, both reheatable and both cheap. Goes with the slaw. I know the comfort food thing's a bit done to death but I've yet to see anyone turn down mac and cheese, which reheats well in sheet pans.

                      Or carnitas and chicken tinga tacos, with beans and some sort of encurtido/crema/whatever. All quite cheap, though not so much with the portioning. Not classic wedding food or particularly foncy, but great for a crowd and do-ahead. I have had people go nertz for carnitas. Could work depending on the feel you're going for.

                      Another thought is the zuni mock porchetta, presliced, though I don't know how that scales up to 200. Roasted potatoes reheat okay, I think. What's your set up like? A full restaurant kitchen? I've never attempted that many portions at once so maybe my suggestions are no good, but just in case it's helpful.

                      1. one of the reasons I was thinking of going with skewers is that fiance *loves* kabobs, I make them often in the summer for parties and such. I am concerned about doing them for such a large group, so far only have done for up to 50 people. At the site is a gigantic grill setup they use for whole pigs though, so I think it might work okay. And like I said, I do have people helping day of. I was thinking of a barley or wild rice pilaf, though polenta would be nice, his side is half italian so I've been trying to work it in a bit. I really need to keep the meat choices on the budget side/ with clear portions. jsaimd- I actually do have a sous vide setup at the location! which makes keeping the hot things much easier- then I will have the servers run out fillups to the buffet. and yes, will def. be brining the chx no matter how I cook it- nothing worse than dry meat!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dreamwithpassion

                          a suggestion ... if you need to control the portions on the kabobs, you might consider have your help "serve" them at the buffet table, ie "would you like chicken or beef" and they serve the allotted portion. Another thing to keep in mind is how large the kabobs are, some guests might ask for one of each.

                          Another piece of advice is that I would not freeze veggie skewers (zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes), if you decide to make them. Freezing tends to ruin their texture.

                        2. oh, and the apps sound like alot but I have quite a few helpers for the 2-3 days before to prep and assemble with me, also have worked in alot of pre-make and freeze recipes. other than the blini and "pissaladiere" onion tarts most will be made a few days ahead. trying to keep it easy, as most of the wedding is diy for me.