Archived entries for wedding

Catering Your Own Wedding: Final Week Checklist

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: Part 9 : Final Week Checklist


Photos Courtesy of OneLovePhoto.com

This is it; you’re in the final stretch. The marathon is almost done. You’ll be sweating and tired, almost ready to throw in the towel, but you can see the finish line. You’ve worked so hard for so long and it will gone in a flash. You’ll probably be wildly oscillating between wanting to get through these last few days fast so you can finally get to the fun part and wanting everything to go slow so you can enjoy and savor every moment.

Preparing a couple for their union is an event marked in almost every culture throughout time. Experiencing it for yourself, surrounded by your community, can be a very powerful experience. Try to enjoy as much as you can, keep focused on the big picture and don’t get bogged down in too many details. We’ve been as organized as we can be to try and make this last week as easy as possible. The list of things to do for your food isn’t long, but with all the other wedding related things you’ve got going on, you’re still going to be very busy. Try your best to keep your head on straight and your bridezilla under lock and key.


Final Week

  • FOOD AND BAR:
    • Schedule and implement all shopping trips
    • Create and implement a schedule for food prep during the week
    • Create and implement a schedule for food prep the day of.
  • Catering Supplies:
    • Acquire any last minute catering supplies.
  • Manpower:
    • Continue to keep volunteers organized with lists and schedules of tasks needed.
    • Prepare day-of lists for each crew so on your wedding day you can relax and let everyone else take over

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Here is a rough idea of how your can schedule the food into your week.

Days 6-7:

  • Make a master list of all tasks and schedule your week
  • Complete shopping lists
    • items you need
    • places you’ll purchase them at
    • schedule when you’ll go.
  • Prior to shopping, make sure you have room for your purchases
    • space for perishable items in refrigeration
    • space for non perishable goods in a side room and/or basement
  • Go shopping for all non-perishable goods and as many perishables as you can
  • Confirm final details with your event space.
  • Meet with your Food Foreman
    • confirm your schedules
    • give them lists of all contacts
    • go over your food prep schedule

The first thing you’ll want to do this week is to sit down and write a master list of all the tasks you need to take care of including non-food related items and make a daily schedule which evenly distributes your tasks throughout the week. There may be some last minute things which come up so try to not over schedule yourself so you’ll have time to be flexible. If you’re schedule seems too full, enlist some volunteers and delegate jobs to lighten your load.

You’ll want to get as much shopping done early in the week as possible. Finalize your shopping lists with food/bar items and where you’ll be getting them from. Make sure you’ll have the room to put the items once you’ve bought them. You’re going to need a lot of refrigerator space. Possibly you have access to another refrigerator, or you have a close neighbor who will let you use part of theirs. If worse comes to worse you can use large coolers with ice. You’ll just have to monitor them to make sure everything is kept cool.

You’ll want to meet with your foreman and go over all details of your food/bar shopping and prep, your catering supplies and your volunteer list and schedule so they have all your up to date info.
Ask them questions and make sure they have all they need to keep organized. They may be helping you throughout this week, but their big moment will be taking over the day of the wedding to make sure all the food is prepped and plated. Make sure they know your schedule for the day of and they know when you need all the food out by. Make sure you confirm a handful of volunteers who can help them get the food plated and ready. Depending on your wedding size it may be anywhere from 3-6 helpers.
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Days 4-5:

  • confirm final details with your event space
    • when you have access to the space
    • when you can do drop off
    • when you can begin set up
    • when you need to have everything out of the space afterwards
  • confirm delivery/pick up details with vendors
    • alcohol
    • ice
    • bread
    • rental orders for
      • tables/chairs
      • dinnerware/glassware/serving items
      • barware/coolers
  • confirm the borrowing of any platters or serving equipment from friends and family
  • Work on any food prep which can be done this many days in advance
    • caramelize onions
    • cut pickles into spears
    • prep salt and pepper shakers
    • finish roasting any vegetables you have not taken care of yet

Confirm details with your event space. Make sure you know when your people will have access to the space so you can drop your stuff off. The more you can get in before the day of the wedding the better. Confirm when you’ll load stuff in, start the set up, and when you need to have everything out after the event.

Confirm details with any vendors for the delivery or pick up of your large orders. If you’re having your liquor, bread, ice or any rental items delivered, coordinate and confirm delivery details with your event space to ensure a successful delivery. Confirm and schedule any pickups you’ll need to make.

Confirm the borrowing of any platters, bowls, serving equipment with friends and family
. When planning your buffet set up, think about laying things out on different levels to give more visual interest and to make it easier to grab the food items. In addition to platters, ask if people have cake platters you can use to raise platters up a level.

Work on any food prep you can take care of early like caramelizing onions, cutting pickle spears, etc.
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Day 3:

  • arrange to have your meat and cheese sliced
  • finalize arrangements of getting food to event space

As the days get closer to your big day, try to have less and less things to take care of, since you’ll probably have more misc. wedding tasks to do.
This is a good day to schedule your meat and cheese to get sliced. You want to wait as long as possible to get this done, but still a few days in advance to get it out of the way. Hopefully, you’ve already made arrangements of how you can get this done, and who can help you with it.
Finalize arrangements of how you’ll get all your food and supplies to your event space. If possible, you’ll want to arrange to have your non-perishable items taken over the day before. Arrange for all perishable items to be taken over the morning of your wedding.
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Day 2:

  • prepare side salads
  • take any frozen items out of freezer to thaw
  • purchase any last minute perishables

Coordinate last minute details. Organize the preparation of your side salads with the family and/or friends who have volunteered to take care of this. Take any items which you have pre-roasted and frozen out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator to thaw. Purchase any last minute perishables such as mixed greens.
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Day before:

  • organize and supervise the movement of all non-perishable items to your event space
  • coordinate with your food foreman to have all perishable items transported the day of
  • make a check list of all items which need to be picked up at your house and moved
  • make a list of all prep things which will need to be taken care of the day of the wedding
  • confirm clean up with your clean up crew

AHHH!!! Its the final day before the wedding. You’ll want to have two lists written up for the people who will be moving the last minute perishables from your house to the event space the day of. Make sure you have a detailed list of all items which need to be moved and where they are in your house. Make a list of all the last minute things which need to be done the morning of.

You probably have a rehearsal dinner tonight, so if possible try to have all your ducks in a row, so once the rehearsal dinner comes, you’re done with all your prep and planning, and you can relax. This is what your months of organization were for. Hopefully, you can now sit back and let your friends and family take over. You’re about to get on the slide. Once the day starts, it will go by in a blur. Enjoy it. Don’t worry about the food. You’ve done all you can do. Sit back, be the center of attention.
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Wedding Day


Photos Courtesy of OneLovePhoto.com

  • get your hair did
  • get some make up on your face
  • put on your stuff
  • drink champagne
  • say “I DO”
  • Smooch on your new spouse
  • drink more
  • dance
  • eat cake
  • say hi to everyone
  • Repeat “I’m so glad you were able to come” a million times
  • kiss everybody
  • get pictures taken
  • get drunk
  • destroy yourself with fun

Its time to sit back and let your months of lists and organization kick into autopilot. You’ve worked hard and everyone will appreciate all you’ve done. Its time to celebrate the love you and your partner share with all your friends and family.

The only think you have to do today is look great, have a good time and remember to thank all your helpers profusely. This is going to be one of the most memorable days in you and your partner’s lives. Thanks to all the personal attention and dedication you showed, it will remain very memorable for all your guests as well.

So go get married, party down and get drunk. You’ve both earned it. Hopefully you won’t have to be the one cleaning up tomorrow.
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Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

Catering Your Own Wedding: Final Month Check List

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Go Back to the Cater Your Own Wedding Index
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: Part 8 : Final Month Checklist


Mr Right by Boopsie.Daisy”

Wow, only 30 days until “the big day”. We’ve still got some time, but the stress is slowly creeping in. It starts with one zombie clawing for your brains, but you can easily fend him off. As we get closer and closer to the big day though, the zombies start multiplying until you’re locked in the attic, shaking and screaming because your fiance just got turned into a zombie too and he(she), along with all the rest, are trying to beat down the door to eat your brains! AHH!!! Don’t worry, though. Zombies feed on chaos and despair so they are easily fended off with lists and organization.

You’re getting into crunch time, and the more you can do to keep organized, the more you’ll be able to keep your head on straight. There’s no way to avoid it, as this month ticks away, you’ll be getting more and more stressed out. Everyone will be calling you about everything. You’ve got to be making final decisions on everything from decorations and flowers to figuring out how your wheel chair ridden great grandmother is going to get to the bathroom. The food won’t be the only thing you’re working on, so its important to make detailed schedules, integrating your food in with all your other obligations.

A word to the wise, keep to my check list… or live to regret it! Mwa ha ha!

Final Month Overview:

Food:

  • Meet with your Food Foreman and together begin to make plans for your event
  • Price out different shopping options
  • Write up your final menu
    • Write up your final shopping lists and from which stores you will purchase your items.
  • Schedule your shopping trips to coincide with food prep needs.
  • Prep as many vegetables as you can possibly roast and freeze ahead of time.
  • Arrange for your meats and cheeses to be sliced

Bar:

  • Make arrangements with your liquor store on your order
  • Arrange for bar tenders
  • Select final bar menu
  • Organize your final bar shopping list and schedule any shopping trips
  • Arrange for bottled water.
  • Order ice.
  • Finalize any rentals you may need

Catering Supplies:

  • write up a list of misc. you may need during food prep and/or at the event space:
  • coordinate coffee service:
  • coordinate the borrowing of platters and other serving pieces with friends and family
  • Make final decisions on dinnerware, linens and serving ware.
  • Order/arrange for all necessary items to be shipped or brought to your house/event space

Manpower:

  • Confirm with volunteers specific tasks.
  • Prepare schedules for volunteers and share time frames with them so everybody knows your plan.
  • Compile a contacts list of all individuals involved with wedding including cell/email info and share with all volunteers

*please note: You’ll want to complete this checklist BEFORE the final week, so you have three weeks to get all these things done, not four.

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1) Food:

  • Meet with your Food Foreman and together begin to make plans for your event
    • work closely with them through all final stages of the food
    • share all lists and schedules with them so they are as knowledgable as possible as to all the food details.
  • Price out different shopping options
    • research different grocery stores or food wholesalers to try and get the best bulk price.
    • make sample shopping trips to stores and make notes of:
      • price of item
      • size/weight of item
  • Write up your final menu
    • pick your final food selections
    • write up your ingredient list
      • all sandwich ingredients such as…

        • meat
        • cheese
        • vegetables/toppings
        • condiments
      • all side ingredients such as…
        • any side salad ingredients
        • potato chips
        • pickle spears
      • any bar necessities such as…
        • lemons and limes
        • olives
        • maraschino cherries
      • coffee service supplies such as…
        • coffee
        • creamer
        • sugar
    • Calculate the final amounts needed for each item using final rsvp head count
    • Calculate total food cost based on your sample shopping trips
  • Write up your final shopping lists and from which stores you will purchase your items.
  • Schedule your shopping trips to coincide with food prep needs.
  • Prep as many vegetables as you can possibly roast and freeze ahead of time.
  • Arrange for your meats and cheeses to be sliced

Meet with your food foreman. The time has come to start making final decisions and, if you haven’t already, conferring with your food foreman to go over all the details of your plan. I suggest going over together all your prep work and sample menus you’ve made based on your head counts. If you (and your partner) have been working on this stuff alone up until now, there’s a good chance you may be very inside your own plans. Its good to have a second person look over your work and give you objective critique to make sure all your plans make sense and are realistic. Be open to your foreman’s ideas and edit if you need to. Being organized is great, but be flexible to making changes and edits if they make sense and help your overall scheme. Besides, something always goes wrong and you can never plan what that thing is. The more flexible you can be, the better able you and your food foreman will be able to work all the last minute kinks.

Share all your lists and schedules with your food foreman.
This person should know everything as well as you do, so they can be your number 2 until the big day, when they will become the go-to person for all your other helpers while you will be frivolously enjoying yourself and being completely overwhelmed by how awesome your wedding is.

Go on a sample shopping trip at the beginning of the month with your sample menus
you made in your last check list. If necessary, go to a couple of different stores to price out goods. This will help you select the stores you will use. I suggest shopping at a food wholesaler if this is an option for you. I went to Restaurant Depot to purchase a lot of my things. However, you need to have an account (be an approved food vendor) to shop there. My food foreman had an account, so we did our shopping on her card number. However, there are places such as Gordons, who don’t require a membership, or Costco who offer memberships to the general public.

It will be cheaper for you to buy whole roasts of meat and loaves of cheese from a wholesaler, instead of buying them by the pound from the deli which will mark the prices up. If you have any friends or family who are in the food business, work at a restaurant etc, perhaps they can help you get connected with a food wholesaler. This person may also have access to a deli slicer which you could use to cut your meat and cheese. If you can’t find or get access to a wholesaler, talk to someone at your local deli and ask them if they will give you a discount if you buy a couple of whole roasts and loafs. Conversely, you may be able to buy the meat and cheese from a wholesaler but you don’t have any way of slicing them. Ask your deli if they can do it for you and what they would charge.

While shopping, make accurate notes with each food item, the weight/amount of the item and the price.
This will help you greatly when figuring out the amount you’ll need to feed your whole group.

Get final head count. By now you should have your final RSVP head count in from your invitations. This is the number we will work from when coming up with the final menu and the amounts of items we need for our shopping lists. I suggest blanketing your total head count by 10-20 people. There are always those unreliable guests who don’t RSVP but show up anyway.

Make final menu choices. Once you’ve priced out your food items and have your final head count, the time has come to sit down and make a final decision on your food menu. According to your tastes and your headcount, make a detailed list of all your menu items and figure out how much of each item you will need. Figuring out amounts may be difficult if you are not familiar with feeding this many people. I’ve come up with a sheet of equations to help you figure this out. Once you’ve got your amounts, figure out what they will cost, according to your sample shopping trip. Edit as necessary to work within your budget.

Write up your final shopping list and divide the items into separate lists by the store you will be purchasing the items from. Remember, if you’ll be serving your own bar, you need to add any items you need for this to your shopping lists so you don’t have to make extra trips. Check your catering supplies list as well, and if any items on your list there can be purchased at the same stores along with your foods, budget that in as well.

Make a schedule of when you’ll be prepping different foods throughout the month and final week. Vegetables to be roasted, like the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes can be done at any time and frozen, so the sooner the better. Things like slicing the meat and cheese should be put off until only a couple days before the wedding.

Make a schedule for shopping which coincides with your food prep and can be integrated into your schedule of all of your other obligations. You’ll want to make a special trip out to get the veggies you want to prep earlier. You can purchase all the other items in the final week to ensure freshness.

Roast any vegetables you may want in the first week or two
. I suggest going on your shopping trip to purchase any vegetables you wish to roast and freeze and getting this out of the way in the first couple of weeks. The more you can get done ahead of time the better.

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2) Bar

  • Decide on final bar menu
    • select drinks you wish to have
      • beer
      • wine
        • red
        • white
        • champagne
      • cocktails
        • liquor necessary
        • mixers necessary
          • soda
          • juice
      • bottled water
    • decide on amounts you’ll need of each
  • Make arrangements with liquor store on your order
    • call around for pricing
    • ask if deliveries are available
    • ask if they accept returns for unused merchandise
  • Organize your final bar shopping list and schedule any shopping trips
    • arrange this to coincide with your food shopping
  • Arrange for bar tenders
  • Order ice.
    • confer with bar tenders on how much ice they think you will need
    • order for a delivery to be made the day of
    • if you need to pick up, arrange for friends or family to take care of this for you the day of
  • Finalize any rentals you may need
    • if you require glassware
    • if you require any Lucite tubs/coolers for ice or bottles of water and/or beer and wine
    • if you require any tubs for kegs

Decide on your bar menu including a list of all drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) you will have available. You’ll want to make a list of beer, wine, liquor and any mixers you’ll need to accommodate your drink list. Remember mixers will do double duty to be used in cocktails and as non-alcoholic options, so keep this in mind when coming up with the amounts you’ll need. Here is a sample list of our bar menu and a sample shopping list to look over as a guide. Now you’ll need to decide on the amounts of what you will need. Here is the alcohol shopping list I came up with for my wedding, divided by type, size, price and where we were planning to get our alcohol from to give you a better idea of what I mean.

Don’t forget about water!! I suggest serving either bottled water or getting one of those large coolers with a spigot and cups. If you go with bottles, you should have at least one bottle for every guest. People drink a lot of water and if you’ll be serving alcohol and people will be dancing, water can help people from dehydration. It is very important!!

Make arrangements with a liquor store with your order and ask for the items to be delivered the day of or the day before the wedding. Call around to price out different stores. As you could see from our shopping list, we chose to purchase the wine separately from the alcohol because we could get the best deal on wine from Trader Joes. They sell their cases of three buck chuck for $36 a case, which is pretty much unbeatable. The wine is a good quality. The downside was we had to pick it up ourselves, but we scheduled this in for a couple of weeks before. The rest of our liquor we purchased from a liquor store who could deliver it to our event space the day before. Also ask and see if your liquor store will accept returns on unused liquor. They often will, so you don’t have to worry about ordering too much. Just make sure to ask what the conditions of the return are so you know all your facts.

Make your final shopping lists including garnishes and budget this shopping list into your schedule
. Add any grocery items you may need such as juices or sodas for mixers and garnishes like lemons, limes, olives, etc to your food shopping list.

Arrange for bar tenders. If you are having a full or partial bar, I suggest hiring a bar tender or two (depending on the size of your event) because it will make the bar more efficient, clean and organized. If you are having your event at an informal space, perhaps you have some friends with bar experience, or you can go to a local bar and ask around if you can find anyone you can hire freelance. Depending on the requirements of your event space, you may need to go with bar tenders who have a liquor license. If this is the case, your event space should be able to give you names and numbers of companies who do this sort of work in your area. You can also ask the liquor store.

Arrange for ice. If you’re going to be serving cocktails, you’ll want ice for your drinks as well as chilling any white wine, champagne, or bottled water you may be serving. If you go with a bar tending service, they should be able to advise you on how much ice you should get. You can also ask the liquor store. Hopefully there is a service in your area which can deliver the ice to your event space. Call around, ask your local gas station where they get their ice. If you can’t find anyone who does deliveries, arrange for a friend or family member to pick up as many bags as possible before the ceremony. The amount you’ll need depends on your guest list, but I imagine you’ll probably want to have 1lb of ice for each guest. Confirm the amount with a professional.

Finalize any rentals you may need. Are you going to go with real glassware as opposed to disposable? Will you need to rent any Lucite tubs or coolers for your beer, wine, champagne, or bottled water. Are you getting kegs? Will you need keg tubs? Ask the bar tenders or the liquor store, what they would suggest you rent for the liquor order you are putting in and ask if they have any suggestions for rental houses. Perhaps you’re already renting tables and chairs to be delivered to your event space, and you can just add the items onto your existing order.

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3) Catering Supplies

  • Finalize (as a continuation of our last check list):
    • Make final decisions on dinnerware, linens and serving ware.
    • Order/arrange for all necessary items to be shipped or brought to your house/event space
    • coordinate the borrowing of platters and other serving pieces with friends and family
  • write up a list of misc. you may need during food prep and/or at the event space:
    • zip lock bags for freezing roasted vegetables
    • garbage bags for on-site
    • toilet paper for on-site
    • cleaning supplies for on-site
  • coordinate coffee service
    • rent or borrow coffee makers
      • purchase/rent coffee cups

      Your final decision on dinnerware should be made by now. Make arrangements for the items you require to be delivered to your house and/or the event space. Now you’ll have a better idea of how much food you’ll be serving you can start to guess how many platters and serving items you’ll need. I just asked friends and relatives coming a few days ahead to help me prep to bring everything they had and whatever we didn’t use we could just set aside. Its better to have too many platters then not enough.

      You will probably need to purchase some miscellaneous items depending on your food prep and your event space. Try to be as detail oriented in your planning as possible. You’ll probably need a lot of garbage bags to handle the garbage from this big party. Do you need to provide your own garabage containers as well? Do you need zip lock bags for freezing your roasted vegetables? Does your event space provide toilet paper or do you need to bring some along, it would suck to run out! Ask yourself as many questions as you can think of and add any needed items to your shopping lists so you can get everything at once.

      Coordinate coffee service
      . You’ll want to get the big coffee urns, like the 30 cup ones. Ask around and see if any friends or relatives have one or two available for your use. You can add this to your rental list if need be. You could also ask a local coffee shop if they could make coffee for you and if they have any urns available for rental. If worse comes to worse, you could just serve it in the cardboard container most shops sell their coffee in. You’ll also have to arrange for coffee cups. Make sure you have enough. We ran out at our wedding, and thank god for my cunning aunt, who ran across the street to the gas station and bought every cup they had from their coffee area. I suggest purchasing 1 cup for every guest. You will probably end up with extras, but better to have too many then not enough.

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      4) Manpower:

      • Confirm with volunteers specific tasks.
      • Prepare schedules for volunteers and share time frames with them so everybody knows your plan.
      • Compile a contacts list of all individuals involved with wedding including cell/email info and share with all volunteers


      Your goal is to have every helper as knowledgeable as possible with your plans.
      Confirm with volunteers and make a schedule which is doable for them. If you haven’t already, compile a list of all individuals involved, what their task is and all contact info you can share with other volunteers so everyone will know who is doing what and how to contact each other if need be.

      Try to schedule as much as possible before hand, but sometimes you won’t be able to know who can actually help until the last minute. Some people may agree to help but can’t or flake out at the last minute. Expect this and make a few back up plans. Stay flexible and remember people are doing you favors, so be gracious and kind.

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      I know this list seems really long, but just take it a day at a time. We’re in really good shape and things are moving forward nicely. We’re almost there. Planning a wedding is like a marathon, especially in the last month. You’ve got to pace yourself. Take a few breathers and don’t get too obsessed with any one detail. Something will go wrong at the last minute and you won’t know what it will be until it happens. If you’re this far in, its pretty clear your working your ass off to make the day as wonderful as possible for yourself and all your guests. Your effort will not go unnoticed to your guests and that is almost the most important thing. They’ll have a good time no matter what small details go wrong, so don’t worry if some details don’t work out. Your wedding day will be so hectic, you won’t even notice those small details when your caught up in the whirlwind of it all.

      Stay focused but don’t get sucked in. Keep looking at the big picture. This is a tone of work, but you obviously enjoy it or else you would never have been so stupid to take this on in the first place. So remember to stay relaxed and have fun!

      We’ll check back in for the final week. Ahhh!
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      Continued reading in the Cater Your Own Wedding Series:

      Final Week Checklist

      Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

      Catering Your Own Wedding: 2 Months Ahead Checklist

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      Go Back to the Cater Your Own Wedding Index
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      :P art 7: 2 Month Checklist:

      2 Months Before

      • Food:
        • Keep track of your RSVP’s to give you an idea of your head count
        • Plan your side salads
        • Research the bakeries in your area and price out roll options
        • Coordinate coffee service.
      • Bar:
        • If you decide to do your own bar as well, compile a drink menu
        • make a list of necessary grocery items (garnishes and mixers)
        • research options for bar service
        • Compile a list of glassware etc, you will need to add to your catering supply list.
      • Manpower:
        • Complete your list of volunteers
        • assigned each person one or two specific tasks
      • Catering Supplies:
        • Make final decision on china vs. disposable options
        • organize acquired items in your house

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      1) Food:


      Image courtesy of Hannabidays

      • Keep track of your RSVP’s to calculate your head count
      • Plan your side salads
        • delegate to helpers
      • Research the bakeries in your area and price out roll options
        • ask about different roll options
        • find out pricing information
        • find out about pickup/delivery
        • ask about freshness

      Make sure you have a way to organize your RSVP’s. Hopefully by this time, all of your invitations have been sent out and rsvp’s are starting to come in. Organize your RSVP list either by compiling your own spreadsheet or use an online service to add it up for you.

      Wedding planners estimate you can expect about 60% of invited guests to come. Using this number, review the menu you made and make changes as you go along to suit the amount of food you’ll need for you this many people. If you need more help coming up with amounts, we’ll give you more tips as we get closer to the date.

      If you decide to serve side salads in addition to your sandwiches, start researching recipes now.
      I suggest pasta or bean salads with vinaigrette dressings because they hold up well on a buffet table for hours and best when made ahead a couple of days.

      Side salads are a great job for family members
      who want to help with the wedding but will be involved with the actual ceremony to help with food prep the day of. For our wedding, I asked both our Mothers to make a salad, so we had two side salads to serve. They were super happy to be involved, the salads turned out great, and I didn’t have to do any of the work. Win win!

      Coordinate coffee service. This is something we haven’t touched on yet. Serving coffee after serving your food is important because it can definitely help the pace of your party surge ahead instead of drag along due to guests suffering from food comas. People love coffee, so think about what you may need to serve along side your coffee, like sugar and cream.

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      2) Bar:


      Image courtesy of JaniceLin

      • compile a list of drinks you wish to have available
      • make a precursory grocery list for your drink list
        • alcohol
        • non-alcohol/mixers
        • garnishes
      • start thinking of bar service
        • professional bar tenders w/ liquor license
        • friends who you can hire as bar tenders
      • Compile a list of glassware etc, you will need to add to your catering supply list.

      If you decide to supply your own bar, start to decide what drinks you want to serve. The biggest decision here is a full bar vs. beer or wine. As I said before, I suggest serving some liquor to allow a selection of cocktails. Full bars make guests feel taken care of and it always seems to up the ante from a good wedding to an awesome wedding. Make a list of drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, you’d like to serve, along with any garnishes. Here is the sample menu we came up with for our wedding.

      Make a coordinating grocery list for your drink menu. Start thinking about where you will purchase these items.

      You will also have to decide how the bar will be served:

      Does your event space require bar tenders who can supply their own liquor license? If so, you’ll have to look into this and research costs. We needed to provide this for our event space, which turned out to be a hefty sum of $500. However, I don’t regret spending the money for a second. Providing our own bar instead of hiring a catering service to provide it for us still saved us a bunch of money. And alcohol is one of the single most important elements of a social event. It helps lubricate social interaction and helps people relax and have a good time. This is something worth spending the money on.

      If you are not required to have bar tenders with a liquor license, decide if your bar will need to be manned or not. If you feel it does (which I suggest, as it will be more organized, look better and be easier for everyone involved), perhaps you have some friends, or friends of friends you can hire to tend your bar for a lower cost then hiring professionals.

      Compile a list of glassware, napkins, or other materials necessary for your bar and add to your catering supply list. .
      If you decide to go with plastic glassware, I suggest using the hard plastic glasses as opposed to the soft solo glasses. Although a bit more expensive, they appear way more classy then the thin plastic. I suggest 16 oz. glasses for beer and the squat 9 oz. for cocktails and wine. Remember when coming up with amounts necessary, people ALWAYS set their glasses down and lose them, so you should probably arrange for 3 glasses for every person coming. Will you give out bar napkins with each drink? Will you need any fancy items like umbrellas or stirring sticks? Keep in mind these things when planning your list.
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      3) Manpower:


      Image by Chris Dilts Photography

      • Complete your list of volunteers
        • shopping
        • food prep
          • days before
          • day of
        • Event set-up
        • Event clean up
      • assigned each person one or two specific tasks

      Assign tasks to your volunteers. By now, hopefully you have a list of people who have volunteered their time and efforts as well as a list of things you need to have done. Try to match skills your volunteers have which would make them the best candidates for different tasks. People who will be involved with the wedding ceremony like direct family members and friends in the wedding party should not be asked to do to much prep work during the wedding itself. Perhaps schedule these friends for help in the days before the wedding.

      Try not to over burden any one person with too many tasks.
      Spread the work around as much as possible. You don’t want to make your friends feel like they are being taken advantage of. The more people you have involved, the more a feeling of community you will create.

      Make a full list of tasks and who is assigned to do them including contact info for each person and share this list among all your volunteers. By sharing your list, if volunteers need to communicate together, they can do so around you, not through you. The more people you have involved, the more organization you will need to keep everyone’s tasks in order. The more organization, the easier and smoother everything will go, ESPECIALLY IN THE LAST WEEK!

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      4) Catering Supplies:


      Image courtesy of RossMat5msu

      • Make final decision on china vs. disposable options
      • organize acquired items in your house
        • Clean out area in your house to store items.
        • Place items in boxes
        • Label your boxes with what they are and where they go

      Make a final decisions on your catering supply needs. Go over your sample list of menu items and your list of bar needs. Either set up your rental order, arrange for borrowing items, or decide where you are going to purchase disposable items, be it online or from a whole saler like Costco.

      In terms of amounts: I would suggest ordering/borrowing the following amounts:

      • plates/paper trays: 1 1/4 per person (meaning every fourth person will need 2)
      • silverware: 1 set per person
      • glassware: 3 per person
      • dinner napkins: 1 1/4 per person
      • bar napkins: 3 per person (if you decide to serve them: this is optional)
      • Buffet bowls and platters: can probably be borrowed from friends and family. Large flat baskets will work well too
      • Buffet Supplies:
        • 5-10 pairs of small tongs , one for each of your platters depending on the size of your wedding. Don’t worry about the exact number of platters, you can find cheap tongs as low as $1 or less.
        • you may want a few olive oil and vinager dispenser bottles. 1 for each.
      • table clothes: 1 per table
        • The decision here is if you’re having circular or rectangular tables. Your event space may not give you a choice, but if you have to rent them keep in mind:
          • Circular
            • looks more classy
          • Rectangular
            • You can fit more people at rectangular tables
            • they take up less square footage. You can usually fit 8-10 people at a standard 8ft x 3 ft rectangular buffet table.
            • If you get rectangular tables and line them up in long rows, you can get rolls of plastic table cloth material. They usually come in 150 ft. rolls which is enough for 16 8 ft tables.

      Clean out area in your house to store items. When acquiring your items, make sure you have a closet, side room or area in your basement which you can begin to stock pile items in.

      Place items in boxes, if the are not already to ensure an easy way to transport them later.

      Label your boxes with what they are and where they go, for example: Plates/Food or Glasses/Bar. This will help you immensely when you’re setting up for the wedding.

      That should keep you busy for the next month. We’ll check back in 1 month before your wedding.
      ___________________________________________________

      Continued Reading in the Cater Your Own Wedding Series:
      Final Month Checklist
      Final Week Checklist


      Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

      Catering Your Own Wedding: 6 Month Check List

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      Go Back to the Cater Your Own Wedding Index
      ___________________________________________________

      : Part 6 : 6 Month Checklist

      We’re not stressed. We’ve got tons of time; the wedding is still months away. Here is the general overview of the tasks we want to achieve in the next 3 months:

      3-6 Months Ahead

      • Finalize event space
      • Invitations
      • Manpower:
        • begin assembling a list of volunteers and assigning tasks to friends and family.
      • Food:
        • begin estimating a guest list to help with planning your menu
        • make a rough menu list of sandwich fillings and condiments
        • begin working on any preserves you’d like to serve like homemade pickles, pesto or chutneys.
      • Catering Supplies:
        • Begin researching options for dinnerware: renting china and linens vs. disposable options.

      ___________________________________________________

      Now we’ll work our way down the checklist and tackle each task as it comes along.

      1) Finalize Your Venue

      • If you’re looking at formal event space:
        • Do they require you to go with a specific list of caterers?
        • Find out if they require insurance?
        • Find out if they have a liquor license or if they will require you to hire bar tenders who supply their own?
      • Does the space have any kitchen facilities. Is there a refrigerator and/or running water on site?
      • Will the space provide tables, chairs, and dinnerware like plates and eating utensils?

      Selecting your venue is your first priority 1, because it will form the framework which your event will be created around. Keep the food in mind when picking a space. Some formal event spaces will not allow any food except from a list of pre-approved vendors. If you want to do your own food, you’ll need to avoid these spaces.

      Insurance issues may be your biggest setback for providing your own food. Many formal event spaces require food providers to hold liability insurance to protect themselves and guests in the case of food poisoning. Because you are probably not a professional, lack of insurance may pose a problem. You may wish to avert this by having your wedding at a private space like on a friend or family’s property where this won’t be a concern. If you must use a formal space, perhaps you have friends or family in the food business who might be able to help cover you with their insurance. In any case, to be safe, you should read up on food sanitation guidelines to help you make smart conscientious decisions during your food prep.
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      2) Send out your Invitations

      • 6 moths ahead
        • prepare your guest list with addresses
        • send out your save the date cards
      • 3 months ahead
        • send out the invitations
          • Include an RSVP due date at least 1 month before wedding
          • With your method of RSVP, ask for a number of guests of each party

      Once you have an event space finalized, its time to prepare your guest list. I suggest sending out save the date cards. This gives your guests extra time to plan for your event and gives you extra time to get the final invitations out. You’ll feel more relaxed if your invitations are taking longer to get out then you anticipated knowing your guests already have the date marked in their calendar.

      Getting an accurate head count for guests who will attend your wedding is very important for planning your food. A rough guest list is OK for now, but I suggest asking on your RSVP CARD the number of guests in their party who will be attending. This will help you have a more specific idea of your final headcount when writing calculating the final food amounts later.
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      3) Manpower

      • Make a list of all tasks you will need assistance with
        • shopping
        • food prep
          • days before
          • day of
        • Event set-up
        • Event clean up
      • Make a list of all friends and/or family members who will be available to help
      • Find one friend or family member who can be the manager/foreman of all food efforts the day of the wedding.
        • someone with catering experience or food service is a plus!
        • avoid anyone directly involved with the wedding (direct family members/wedding party)
        • pay this person what you can afford so they won’t feel taken advantage of

      In order to accomplish this huge goal of catering your own wedding, you are going to need A LOT of help!! Start drafting a list tasks you’ll need help with and a list of people you know you can count on to help out. Share your list of tasks with friends and family and ask for volunteers. People know weddings are a lot of work and want to help you. Finding small tasks for people to do can create a very inclusive welcoming environment. People love to pitch in and be part of your experience. The more people you can include in your wedding, the more a feeling of community you’ll create.

      During this time, the most important role you need to assign is a person you can count on to be the manager or foreman of your food. You DO NOT and CAN NOT do anything the day of your wedding, so you need someone who will be as well acquainted with all the food plans as yourself. You’ll want someone who can be involved with the food prep before the wedding so they know whats going on, and can take over the reigns for you the day of to supervise volunteers and direct all the efforts of getting the food out and cleaning up afterwards. A person with catering or food service experience is a plus!

      Do not ask anyone who will need to be very involved with the actual wedding, like any direct family members or people in the wedding party. This is a huge job which will take up most of their time during the wedding and it will be too difficult to take care of everything behind the scenes and be on the front lines. I also suggest agreeing to pay this person whatever you can afford, even if it is a small amount, because this is a HUGE job and you don’t want your friends or family to feel taken advantage of.
      ___________________________________________________

      4) Food

      • Start drafting a menu list of sandwich toppings and condiments you would like to serve.
        • Keep it simple: more options=more work
        • Keep in mind seasonal produce surplus or restrictions
      • OPTIONAL: Begin working on any preserves you’d like to serve
        • pickles and chutneys/jams can be canned
        • pesto can be frozen

      There isn’t too much of actual food prep we need to do at this stage, but you can start drafting an initial menu to give you an idea of what you want to have. Make notes on what meats, cheese, vegetables and condiments you will probably want. More unique condiments such as various kinds of chutneys or pesto can help give a more sophisticated appearance to your buffet. You can easily make these items yourself ahead of time by canning or freezing them.

      Keep you menu simple. Don’t fall prey to thinking the more selection the more fancy. I had tons of options which guests could have gone without. The more options of toppings and condiments the more work involved for prep and set up. Plan for simple solid foods with nice clean flavors.

      Keep in mind what produce will or will not be in season and plan accordingly. Things in season will taste better and be cheaper. This is a huge reason why a harvest wedding is such a good idea!

      OPTIONAL: Making your own pickles and preserves can add a very personal touch to the food. You can begin making these now, since most pickled vegetables need a month or two to mature and can be preserved indefinitely once canned. If you do not have much experience making these preserves, or would like to cut down on some work, you can skip this step and purchase these items pre-made later.
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      5) Catering Supplies

      • Make a list of table service and dinnerware items you will probably need
        • Dinnerware
          • plates
          • glasses
          • silverware
            • linens
              • table clothes
              • napkins
                • serving equipment
                  • platters/trays
                  • tongs
                  • Research options for acquiring table service
                      • Fine China/linens/silverware
                      • rental
                      • borrowing/thrift
                      • Disposable
                        • purchasing paper and plastic items as needed

                      If you’ll be doing your own food, you may need to provide the dinner ware and serving pieces. Find out if your event space has any items available for your use. If not, the big decision you need to make is china/disposable. Make a list of what you think you may need based on your notes you wrote for your menu plan. If you plan to do only sandwiches, potato chips and pickles you may not need any silverware. However, if you want to serve side salads, you’ll need to have some available. If you plan to do your own bar, make sure you keep in mind any glassware you’ll need.

                      I have a real aversion to disposable dinnerware and had planned to rent formal ware for our wedding, but I found the cost for China, linens, glassware, and silverware to be prohibitively high, even for a wedding of only 150. If you really want to go with formal ware, you have two options:

                      1) Rental: You can call around to your local party/event rental houses and hopefully you’ll be able to find something which works in your budget.

                      2) Borrowing/Thrift: You can get really grass roots and see if you can scrounge up extra plates and silverware from friends and family or start collecting from your local thrift stores. You will end up with a hodgepodge but you can always make it look funky-chic. While this may be time consuming to do for every item you need, I definitely suggest asking friends and family members to borrow large platters and bowls to use for the buffet table.

                      All in all, disposable dinner ware is probably the best way to go.
                      It will save you money as well as a lot of time and energy running around collecting random plates and silverware. Because of the sandwich buffet and deli theme, paper trays lined with parchment and plastic table clothes can actually look stylish not tacky. If you are environmentally conscious, there are lots of different eco-friendly options you can look into. Here are some suggestions for disposable dinner ware options which can fit your budget without making your event look trashy.
                      ___________________________________________________

                      This should give you a good start into your planning. We’ll check back in at the 2 month marker.
                      ___________________________________________________

                      Continued Reading in the Cater Your Own Wedding Series:

                      2 Month Checklist
                      Final Month Checklist
                      Final Week Checklist

                      Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

                      Full Bar vs. Wine and Beer

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                      Go Back to the Cater Your Own Wedding Index
                      ___________________________________________________

                      : Part 5 : To Booze or not to Booze:

                      Providing a bar for your wedding is arguably one of the most important elements to the whole reception. It can be the key to making your event a success by lubricating social interaction and helping people relax and have a good time. The big decision here is what you want to serve. A full bar is great, but it can be pricey to set up. Many people decide to save money by serving only beer and wine. It’s less expensive and you may not even need to hire a bar tender.

                      My recommendation is to spend the money and serve a selection of cocktails as well as beer and wine. I know I like to preach about doing things on the cheap, but this is one corner I personally believe is worth spending on. The ironic truth is, your wedding really isn’t about you; it’s about celebrating with your community.

                      The more you think about and prioritize the wants and needs of your guests, the better your wedding will be. Having an open bar which serves a range of cocktails as well as beer and wine creates a welcoming environment where guests feel they can get whatever they want. 2-3 large bottles of each various kinds of liquor will only run you a few hundred dollars and will be well worth the investment in the happiness of your guests.

                      I would give the same advice to non-drinkers debating if they should even include beer and wine in their event. Although you may have a personal aversion to alcohol, your guests may not feel the same way. Providing alcohol despite personal preference will show all your guests that you have placed their happiness above your own, and will be greatly appreciated. When all is said and done, it is your event and it should be what you want, however, I believe it is shortsighted to eliminate alcohol because of a few persons’ dislike or problems with it.

                      An easy and cheap way of dealing with the alcohol issue is to only serve a few select cocktails. For our wedding, we chose to serve vodka, rum, gin and a selection of whiskeys including scotch, bourbon and Canadian. By providing mixers like tonic, seltzer, coke, and a selection of juices, the booze could easily be made into a handful of different cocktails. If you really want to keep it simple, you can supply one clear and one dark liquor like gin and whiskey. Gin and tonics and martinis always seem to be the two most popular drinks. A good sipping whiskey or rum can be served on the rocks or with coke.

                      You will definitely need to hire a bartender if you decide to serve cocktails and this will also be an added cost. However, as I said above, I personally believe this is one of the most important elements to the success of your event and one which should not be skimped on.

                      Since you’re putting so much time and money into this event, you want it to be a wild success. You want your guests to comment that your event was one of the best weddings they’ve ever been to, and a sure fire way to get this reaction is to have a bar with many options to ensure your guests will get exactly what they want.

                      In short, if you want your wedding to be awesome and not awkward: DON’T SKIP THE BOOZE!
                      ___________________________________________________

                      Continued Reading in the Cater Your Own Wedding Series:

                      6 Month Checklist
                      2 Month Checklist
                      Final Month Checklist
                      Final Week Checklist

                      Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

                      Catering Your Own Wedding: Begin Planning

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                      Go Back to the Cater Your Own Wedding Index
                      ___________________________________________________

                      : Part 4 : Begin Planning


                      Image by Flickr User ManMadePants

                      Get ready for hand cramps and icy hot. We’re going to be making lists, lists, lists! Its time to get down to the knitty gritty of food planning and there’s A LOT to do. I would suggest starting the initial planning as soon as possible, at least 4-6 months before your wedding date. During this time, we’ll begin a very general plan and fine tune details as we get closer to the date.

                      When you start organizing your wedding meal, everything you need to plan for, pretty much fits into these four topics:

                      1. Food
                      2. Bar
                      3. Catering Supplies
                      4. Manpower

                      The food section includes formulating and finalizing your menu, writing up grocery lists, and organizing and implementing a schedule for completing shopping and food prep.

                      If you’re doing your own food, you are probably going to want to provide your own bar as well. Providing your own bar will save you tons of money and doesn’t add too much more work to what you’ll be doing already; you can easily add garnishes and mixers to your food grocery list and ask your local liquor store if they do delivery on large orders.

                      Catering supplies includes what you will need for the place settings, dinner ware and linens, aka the plates, silverware, table clothes, napkins etc. In addition to the place settings, you’ll also need platters, large bowls and tongs to serve your sandwich buffet.

                      For all these things, you’ll need to arrange for volunteers of friends and family to provide the manpower to help you from prep to plate.

                      While these things may seem daunting, we can break everything down into monthly checklists which will allow us to do a little at at time, while still taking care of as much as we can in advance to make your final week as easy as possible. First I’ll start by making a rough time line and allocating general tasks so we will know in a general sense how our time will be broken down.
                      ___________________________________________________

                      Tasks for 3-6 months before:

                      • finalize your event space
                      • send out invitations
                      • Food:
                        • begin estimating a guest list to help with planning your menu
                        • make a rough menu list of sandwich fillings and condiments
                        • begin working on any preserves you’d like to serve like homemade pickles, pesto or chutneys.
                      • Manpower:
                        • begin assembling a list of volunteers and assigning tasks to friends and family.
                      • Catering Supplies:
                        • Begin researching options for dinnerware: renting china and linens vs. disposable options.

                      ___________________________________________________

                      2 Months Before

                      • Food:
                        • Keep track of your RSVP’s to give you an idea of your head count
                        • Plan your side salads
                        • Research the bakeries in your area and price out roll options
                      • Bar:
                        • If you decide to do your own bar as well, compile a list of drinks you wish to have available and make a list of necessary grocery items (garnishes and mixers)
                      • Manpower:
                        • Complete your list of volunteers and have each person assigned one or two specific tasks
                      • Catering Supplies:
                        • Make final decision on china vs. disposable options

                      ___________________________________________________

                      Final Month:

                      • Food:
                        • Compile your final menu choices with amounts needed for each item.
                        • Organize your shopping lists and Schedule your shopping trips.
                        • Prep as many vegetables as you can possibly roast and freeze ahead of time.
                      • Bar:
                        • Make arrangements with your liquor store on your order
                        • Arrange for bar tenders
                        • Select final bar menu
                        • Organize your final bar shopping list and schedule any shopping trips
                      • Catering Supplies:
                        • Make final decisions on dinnerware, linens and serving ware.
                        • Order/arrange for all necessary items to be shipped or brought to your house/event space
                      • Manpower:
                        • Confirm with volunteers specific tasks.
                        • Prepare schedules for volunteers and share time frames with them so everybody knows your plan.
                        • Compile a contacts list of all individuals involved with wedding including cell/email info and share with all volunteers

                      ___________________________________________________

                      Final Week

                      • FOOD AND BAR:
                        • Schedule and implement all shopping trips
                        • Create and implement a schedule for food prep during the week
                        • Create and delegate a schedule for food prep the day of.
                      • Catering Supplies:
                        • Acquire any last minute catering supplies.
                      • Manpower:
                        • Continue to keep volunteers organized with lists and schedules of tasks needed.
                        • Prepare day-of lists for each crew so on your wedding day you can relax and let everyone else take over.

                      ___________________________________________________

                      We now know when we need to worry about something and when we can put it of until later. There are so many things to keep track of, I suggest keeping detailed notes throughout this entire process. Maintain organization of your notes and lists, so you can easily reference it when you need to. The rough time line above can give you a general overview of how to best use your time. In the next handful of posts, we’ll examine each time frame more in depth to give detailed info to help you on your way.

                      USEFUL ORGANIZATIONAL TIP: A great tool for keeping organized and sharing information with friends is Google Documents. Similar to the Microsoft Office applications, Google Docs supplies easy to use applications for making word processing documents, spreadsheets and more. Where Google kicks Microsoft in the ahem, butt, is that, besides being totally free!!!, Google Docs allows you to easily publish and share your documents online with as many people as you wish so you can keep all your volunteers up to date with your plans!
                      ___________________________________________________

                      Continued Reading in the Cater Your Own Wedding Series:

                      A Full Bar vs. Wine and Beer
                      6 Month Checklist
                      2 Month Checklist
                      Final Month Checklist
                      Final Week Checklist

                      Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

                      Catering Your Own Wedding: A Disclaimer

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                      Go Back to the Cater Your Own Wedding Index
                      ___________________________________________________

                      : Part 3 : A Disclaimer


                      Photo by Just.Julie

                      Everyone is
                      going to tell you that you’re crazy and they won’t be completely wrong. Deciding to cater your own wedding is totally doable but it is A LOT OF WORK!!! I can’t enforce that enough.

                      I don’t take back what I said in my last post; anyone can do it. The thing you need to reflect on is if you really want to. Besides being the biggest party you’ve ever planned, there’s so much emotion and expectation surrounding an event like this, that no matter how chill you try to be, its difficult not to get wrapped up in it.

                      You also have to keep in mind if your venue will allow you to do your own food. Many official event spaces require caterers provide insurance to cover personally liable if anyone gets food poisoning or chokes on an olive pit. Make sure you discuss this with your venue so you don’t end up a week or two before the wedding with hundreds of dollars of food items purchased realizing you can’t serve the food because you don’t have the proper insurance. If you want to do your own food, having your event at a private home or private space may be a better option.

                      I’m not trying to talk you out of this, I’m just trying to impress upon you that this is a real undertaking. Planning a wedding is stressful enough without adding this substantial amount of work as well. I’ve tried to organize this food plan to be as easy as possible, but it will still require months of planning and hours of labor. However, if you are the type of person who doesn’t mind working your ass off and gets more pleasure in doing things yourself, then paying someone to do it for you: you’re in the right place.

                      OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest and we’re all on the same page, lets dig in and start planning!
                      ___________________________________________________

                      Continued Reading in the Cater Your Own Wedding Series:

                      Begin Planning
                      A Full Bar vs. Wine and Beer
                      6 Month Checklist
                      2 Month Checklist
                      Final Month Checklist
                      Final Week Checklist

                      Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

                      Catering Your Own Wedding: The Basics

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                      Go Back to the Cater Your Own Wedding Index
                      ___________________________________________________

                      : Part 2 : The Basics

                      So, how do you feed 150+ people for around $1000 on your own wedding day? It seems impossible, but I assure you, it isn’t. As I previously described in the post I wrote about my own wedding, you simply need to think about your limitations and work around them. When attempting to tackle this problem, I started listing the various criteria the food must meet:

                      • The food must feed 150+.
                      • It must fit in a tight budget ($1000-$1500)
                      • It needs to be able to be prepped days ahead and with very little prep (beside set up) the day of so you can enjoy your wedding.
                      • It must not need to be heated since an on-site kitchen cannot be guaranteed.
                      • It needs to be flexible to accommodate a range of dietary needs.
                      • It has to be super easy and basic. We’re not professional caterers and we don’t have the experience for anything even moderately difficult
                      • It needs to be AWESOME. This is a wedding meal!

                      The simple answer to all these concerns is: A SANDWICH BUFFET!

                      By serving platters of a variety of cold cuts, cheeses, and other toppings:

                      • guests can make sandwiches according to their own tastes and diets
                      • everything can be served room temp, removing the need for an on-site kitchen
                      • everything can be prepped days in advance to make it possible for friends and family to step in and set up the day of
                      • all the ingredients can be purchased inexpensively.

                      Its super easy and anyone with the desire and energy can pull this off. Win, win!

                      BONUS: A sandwich buffet goes perfectly with a deli theme which we can use to our benefit to make things which might otherwise seem tacky appear stylized like disposable dinner ware and linens (paper napkins and plastic table clothes) as well as easy sides like individual bags of kettle chips and dill pickle spears.

                      Six Quick Tips To Help Your Sandwich Plan Succeed

                      1) Drastically cut down last minute prep by roasting vegetables
                      like red peppers, zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes weeks in advance and freezing them, instead of serving fresh veggies. Roasting will also intensify the flavors which can be doubly enhanced if cooked with any combination of salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and thyme, and will also lend more sophistication to your spread.

                      2) Serve specialty items like sliced prosciutto and fresh mozzarella to add a little more glamor to the deli staples of ham, turkey and provolone.

                      3) Rolls can be easily ordered ahead to be made fresh right before the wedding. Call local bakeries and ask if they do deliveries or ask a friend or relative to pick the rolls up before coming to the wedding.

                      You may wish to sacrifice a bit of freshness for the convenience of picking the bread up on Friday when you won’t be as busy, but make sure you ask the bakery if it will be as good the next day. Also make sure to ask the bakery if they can pre-slice the rolls which will save A LOT of work.

                      4) A few inexpensive bags of mixed greens can turn your buffet into a salad bar. Instead of sliced lettuce, serve mixed greens and add a few salad dressings like ranch and blue cheese in with the sandwich condiments. This will allow the buffet to be easily used as a salad bar for guests who are allergic to wheat or wish to cut carbs.

                      5) Serve side salads with vinaigrette based dressings. Preparing salads with vinaigrette based dressings a couple days in advance is actually optimal because the longer they sit the better they become as they marinate. The less you have to do the day before and the day of your wedding, the more relaxed you will feel. These salads will also hold up sitting on a buffet table for a couple hours without spoiling like a salad with a dairy or mayonnaise dressing might. I suggest a pasta salad and/or a bean salad.

                      6) Make your salads vegetarian to suit all diets. Bean salad (made without cheese) is excellent for any vegans wanting to get more protein, like the simple garbanzo bean salad pictured above. You may not be vegetarian or vegan, but some of your guests might be, and its always best to make the food flexible for as many diets as possible.

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                      So, that’s it in a nutshell. These basic foods make for a classic meal. Everyone loves a sandwich, and with the buffet style serving, every guest will be guaranteed to get exactly what they want. This plan is flexible for every taste and diet, is simple yet classy, relatively easy to prepare and best of all won’t break your bank.

                      Now that we have a better idea of what we’re dealing with we can move on to the planning…
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                      Continued Reading in the Cater Your Own Wedding Series:

                      A Disclaimer
                      Begin Planning
                      A Full Bar vs. Wine and Beer
                      6 Month Checklist
                      2 Month Checklist
                      Final Month Checklist
                      Final Week Checklist

                      Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

                      Cater Your Own Wedding: An Introduction

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                      Go Back to the Cater Your Own Wedding Index
                      ___________________________________________________

                      : Part 1 : Introduction

                      Weddings are where dreams and reality come to duke it out, like two giant bikini clad body builders wrestling in the mud. What you want vs. what you can afford. They’re both slippery bastards you can’t seem to get a hold on.


                      Photo by Jim March Photography

                      You want to throw a huge wedding, but don’t want to be in debt for 20 years to pay for it. Compromises need to be made and corners cut, but if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, when confronted with a $6,000 quote for catering, don’t cut your guest list in half; cut your caterer!

                      Catering your own wedding can be a lot of work, but, with careful pre-planning, good organization and a lot of help from friends and family, you can cut the cost down as much as 75% what you would pay a professional. Beside saving tons of money, you can also impress all your guests while making your reception even more indicative of your own unique DIY style!

                      The question is, how do you, with little (if any) experience in large scale food prep, coupled with your limited resources of money and manpower, tackle the challenge of feeding 100+ people on a day when you will not be able to do anything but eat and greet? I’ve just spent the last 6 months in the mud pit wrestling this same issue. The solution I finally came up works around these weaknesses and actually provides some added bonuses. My recent wedding catered by myself along with my wonderful friends and family was voted a complete success by all our guests.


                      Stacy is loving it! Photo by Chris Dilts Photography

                      In an effort to help other like minded DIY B2B’s (Bride to be’s…and their partners of course) I’m going to spend the next week or so giving all the details of my unique plan to help you successfully cater your own wedding including hints on shopping lists, schedules, check lists and more. Each post will feature a new installment of how to organize a flexible food plan for your wedding, with less then $1000, in your own kitchen.

                      To all my general readers, I promise, after this series of posts, the wedding craze will be over, and I’ll get back into my regular posting routine. So, please stay tuned!
                      ___________________________________________________

                      Continued Reading in the Cater Your Own Wedding Series:

                      The Basics
                      A Disclaimer
                      Begin Planning
                      A Full Bar vs. Wine and Beer
                      6 Month Checklist
                      2 Month Checklist
                      Final Month Checklist
                      Final Week Checklist

                      Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about my plan or about how to plan your own event.

                      Save Money: Cater Your Own Wedding

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                      : Index of Posts :
                      ___________________________________________________


                      Image by Ha-wee

                      You want to throw a huge wedding, but don’t want to be in debt for 20 years to pay for it. When confronted with a $10,000 quote for catering, don’t cut your guest list in half; cut your caterer! Here’s an index of our guide to DIY Wedding Catering on the cheap.

                      1. Cater Your Own Wedding Intro
                      2. The Basics
                      3. A Disclaimer
                      4. Begin Planning
                      5. A Full Bar vs. Wine and Beer
                      6. 6 Month Checklist
                      7. 2 Month Checklist
                      8. Final Month Checklist
                      9. Final Week Checklist

                      Email me if you have any questions about my plan or need assistance when planning your own event.



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