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How to Cater Your Own Wedding

How to Cater Your Own Wedding

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples decided to have small weddings. With short, intimate guest lists, many couples took the opportunity to cater their own weddings.

Catering your wedding can be a truly memorable experience. You can choose foods that have sentimental value to you, exercise your creativity, and show your friends and family how much they mean to you by serving them the celebratory meal yourself. And if you plan it right, self-catering can be more cost-effective than paying an actual catering company..

Although there are many pros to self-catering, there are also some cons to consider. Planning a wedding is already pretty stressful and demands a lot of time and effort. Adding the responsibility of planning the food can put unwanted stress on a couple and their family members and friends who agree to help. And if there isn’t a strong plan in place, it can cost just as much as, if not more than, hiring a caterer.

Regardless, if you make a detailed plan for your self-catered reception, it is totally doable and might even be rewarding and fun for you and your family and friends. Check out our tips for planning a stress-free and successful self-catered reception.

Food Prep

1. Consider your guest list
If you’ve decided to host a small reception with less than 15 or 20 guests, it may not be too expensive nor too difficult to prepare enough food. After all, most venues will have no more than one oven and stove top available for food preparation. When considering the amount of food you will need to make, be sure to consider portion size as well.

2. Create a simple menu.
Once you know how much food you need to make, create a menu showcasing your favorite food items and drinks. It would be best to choose foods that are easier and cheaper to make and can be prepared before your wedding day. Consider simple crowd-pleasers like salad, pasta, roasted chicken breasts, steamed veggies, and rice.

3. Plan the prep.
Several plans should be made to avoid unwanted surprises on your wedding day. How long will it take to prepare each food item? Where will the food be cooked? How will you transport food if you aren’t cooking at the venue? Where will you store or chill the prepared food? What supplies and utensils will you need? How will you reheat or keep the food warm?

4. Choose the venue strategically.
If you plan to cook the food at your venue, be sure to check with the venue owners or managers about their catering rules and limitations. Some venues might not have the kitchen appliances you need to cook your food.

5. Divide & conquer.
Teamwork makes the dream work! Catering your own wedding will be challenging, if not impossible, without a little help. If you assign willing family members and friends one or two tasks each, you can focus on other preparations for your big day. While one person prepares the main course, another can make the salad, and another can bake the dessert, etc.

6. Don’t forget servers & cleaning crew
Not only will you need help preparing each food item, but someone will need to be responsible for serving the food and cleaning up at the end of the party. You may want to recruit volunteers outside of your guest list so you and your loved ones can enjoy the dinner. Be sure to account for leftovers as well. How will you pack it up? Will you send leftovers home with your guests? Or donate?

7. Make a detailed itinerary.
After you’ve determined the tasks that need to be done, create a detailed itinerary describing where every task falls into the schedule and share it with everyone helping out. When should the venue be set up? When does the food need to be reheated or chilled? When will each course be served? When can the cleaners begin packing the food away?

Looking for the wedding venue of your dreams? We have hundreds to choose from! Check out our venues page, where you can find event and wedding venues listed by state and city!

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