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Wedding appetizer buffet with no electricity

I'm getting married in May. The wedding is at 2PM and we will just be doing appetizers instead of a full meal. It's taking place in someone's yard, and the area where the food will be set up is quite a ways from the house, so I'm not sure if we will be able to get power out there. (I considered a generator, but that would be an awful lot of racket.)

So I'm looking for appetizer ideas that won't need to be kept warm. The guest list is not heavy on foodies. In fact, I would say many of them are the opposite of Chowhounds. My fiance's family get-togethers are centered around things like lil' smokies in barbecue sauce with jelly and meatballs in gravy.

So things I'm looking for:

- don't need to be kept warm (kept cool might work; I can have ice buckets)
- nothing too "out there", needs to somewhat appealing to a redneck ;)
- not too expensive
- somewhat seasonal, where possible

Also, I've seen widely-varying numbers on apps/person. As mentioned, this isn't supposed to be a full meal, but I also don't want people to pass out while throwing horseshoes! How many items should I plan on per guest?

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  1. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. If you are able to keep them cold something filled with different types of mousses. (Cucumber, shrimp, for example).

    1. You wouldn't need electricity if you use chafers with sternos. You could rent a hot box and use sheet pans with sternos between the shelves as a makeshift oven (no need to plug it in)

      As usual, a large piece of meat as sort of the centerpiece of the food table is popular...a spiral ham, roasted beef or pork loin with rolls and spreads usually well received.

      Sandwich pinwheels of cold cuts and cheeses, tuna or ham salads, roasted vegetables. Etc. Made on assorted flavored tortillas, lavash, or other flat breads then rolled, sliced and displayed on trays. Trays of cascading cheese, crackers, fruit and veggies also a usual.

      Summer rolls and deviled eggs can be filled with many variations would also work here. I worked a wedding once where we had a grits station set up; three flavors of grits were prepared and guests helped themselves to many different toppings like sausage gravy, shrimp, bacon, sautéed veggies, cheeses, etc. It was such a hit, we ran out of grits before the reception was over.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cherylptw

        Roast beef sounds fabulous, but I think with this particular group pulled pork might be my best bet. (Before I had to move away from a full meal for budget reasons, the original plan was a pig roast! I still wish I could go that route, but alas....)

        Ah, deviled eggs would be good. I don't like them myself, but I know the groom's family loves them. And I love that grits idea! How fun.

        1. re: Kontxesi

          Pig roast would have been fabulous! I would have enjoyed being a guest at that reception!

          1. re: Kontxesi

            Hmm..I would think a pig roast would be cheaper than the direction you are leaning in

        2. you'll have people from 2 until 6ish then? many will not have had lunch and you'll still be hosting them at dinner time. unless you tell them it's a hard-stop ending at say 4, you'll need to offer more than just a few bites per person. for a cocktail reception lasting 2 hours the rec is generally 3-5 pieces per person. if it's a longer party, the rec is 6-8 pieces.

          avoid any kind of leafy salad as it will be wilted in no time.

          will you be doing this all yourself? can you enlist a friend or cousin to help keep things tidy and refreshed?

          cheryl's ideas all are good and you can also put a pan on top of another pan that has ice to keep items cool.

          roast chicken legs are fine done ahead and served on a platter at room temp.

          platters of cold cuts with a big basket of good rolls, with an assortment of mustards and condiments.

          are foods like tabouleh and hummus too "out there"? both are fine not being refrigerated.

          you can rent chafers or buy disposables and then still serve the lil smokies and meatballs and maybe a pan of ziti?

          3 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I agree with everything here. How many people are you expecting? How many places for people to sit and eat? Is the event going to be set up upon guests arrival? Who is going to be in charge of that (food and decor)? Before, during and after? Some things hoto points out are important to consider. The time of day is not as important as when did they last eat. If everything goes smoothly they had to get dressed, drive, arrive, wait for ceremony, the lovely ceremony, etc. Plus apps are so much more work to assemble and serve.
            I would also recommend renting some items, especially a hot box. My husband works in a tiny kitchen (think 1920 house original kitchen size) and it is essential for daily service. It holds prepared food at the proper hot temperature (175 degrees I think) for hours. Then you could add in roasted turkey really easy. If you can park it close to the food table even better. Disguise is easy with opening towards the back.
            Have you thought about silverware.

            1. re: holypeaches

              My fiance is expecting about 6 people to show up. I'm a little more hopeful, maybe 75?

              The tables and chairs will all be set up before people show up, done by my brothers and various other family members. My mom, step-mom, and grandmothers will prep the food before people come (the day before, as much as possible) and will bring it out right after the ceremony.

              1. re: Kontxesi

                Good lots of capable and hopefully willing help around. Whew!
                How about...
                Crudite Platter with marinated artichoke hearts, olives, pickled green beans, pimento cheese stuffed celery, etc.
                Melon wrapped in prosciutto
                cheese straws and those pecan tassies or other spiced nut
                White bean dip in an Italian style with homemade crackers (I can get a reliable, cheap recipe for the crackers)
                Plus
                Pulled pork sliders with jalapeno slaw
                A grilled chicken wrap maybe with cream cheese spread to prevent sogginess then roasted or matchstick veggies. Roll wrap tight and slice about 2 inches thick to serve.
                Plus all of the other ideas I think would make it so lovely. Of course the food is huge. Go You and Congrats!!
                I think everything listed can be eaten without a fork. Plus a "hot box" is a 175 degree dry contained holding container. IM me if you want further on that.
                Add cake and couple other things...
                What do you think?

          2. Definitely second renting a hot box and chafing/sterno set ups. Go heavy hot apps: meat, cheese and veggie filled pastry pockets; mini corn dogs; meatballs. Then supplement with various crudités and dips you can keep on ice. Round out with cheese,salami and cracker platters with some pickled/brined items.

            1. I agree with every statement already made. Focus on keeping beverages cold but your options to keep food warm to hot is better without electricity than cold in May.

              Congratulations! I hope you have plenty of helpers!

              2 Replies
              1. re: HillJ

                Average temp for that time of year around here is 70-75, so I'm not too concerned about keeping things cool. The only thing I'm thinking of specifically is the crudités, which I'm thinking about doing in individual cups with the dip in the bottom.

                1. re: Kontxesi

                  In NJ 70-75 would still be warm enough for me to be sure I could keep cold things cold for hours and hours. The setup time, the reception time and the second time around for guests who graze. And helpers to keep an eye on things.

                  You've got so many great tips coming in from CH's, you'll be fine.