By Guest Bride Blogger Madeleine Hill
We decided to cater our own wedding to help us stay within our budget and to be able to design a custom menu from our favorite recipes. We enlisted the help of our friends and family to help us cater a buffet-style dinner for 60 guests, from set up to clean up.
Hosting a successful dinner reception is all in the planning. If you are not hiring a catering company, be sure you have all the tools you will need to cook, serve, and clean up after your party. Most party rental companies will have chafing dishes, platters, pitchers, utensils, grills, and any other catering equipment you may need. Even a buffet style dinner will require attention, so hiring a few employees will help keep everything organized and cleaned up. Start by figuring out your budget, allocating your money to rentals, professional help, and ingredients. Make your life easier by recruiting friends and family volunteers and divvying up tasks.
Consider what will be in season the month of your wedding, the best dishes are made from the freshest ingredients. When planning our menu, we narrowed down our options by choosing farm appropriate entrees highlighted by seasonal summer produce. We took into consideration what would be in our local farmers' market in August, or better yet what we could use out of our own garden.
In order to avoid complications and to guarantee the quality of our dishes, we are keeping the menu simple with two main dishes and three summery sides. We opted for food that we could prep well in advance to save time on the wedding day and reduce stress. For side dishes we chose potato salad with green beans and olives in a vinaigrette dressing; a green salad with strawberries, almonds and goat cheese; and orzo with roasted corn and tomatoes. We chose vinaigrette-based salads that could be prepped ahead of time and don’t have mayonnaise, which can spoil in the summer heat. It is also important to consider the guests’ diets, so we kept our side dishes vegetarian.
The main dishes we chose reflect two different family traditions. I grew up in Kansas City so we are serving a Kansas City-style pulled pork topped with tangy cole slaw. The pork can be made ahead and frozen, then reheated in a crock-pot the day of the wedding. Our other main entrée will be a Chicago-style hot dog bar, served with the traditional toppings of mustard, tomato, onion, sport peppers, pickles and celery salt. The Chicago-style accoutrements can all be prepped before hand, but we will seek out a volunteer to grill the dogs on our wedding day. Always prepare dishes that you are familiar with to avoid any surprises, so family recipes are a perfect place to look for inspiration!
Save money on a wedding cake by making your own dessert spread. My mom is making a small cake for cutting, accompanied by cupcakes. Every year for my birthday, she bakes me a banana chocolate chip cake with cream cheese frosting and I couldn’t think of anything more meaningful than to serve that for our wedding cake. The dessert table will also have an assortment of fruit pies, not only in style but perfect for a farm!
There are plenty of online resources for DIY catering, so do some research to decide if this is the best option for your wedding. If you decide to hire a caterer, there are other DIY projects to consider for adding a personalized touch. For example, try designing your own menu. I printed our menus, chose an appropriate stamp and mounted them on a rustic piece of birch bark to place on the buffet tables.