Catering Your Own Wedding: The Basics


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: 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.


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…

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.

Related posts:

  1. Catering Your Own Wedding: A Disclaimer
  2. Catering Your Own Wedding: 2 Months Ahead Checklist
  3. Catering Your Own Wedding: Begin Planning
  4. Catering Your Own Wedding: Final Week Checklist
  5. Catering Your Own Wedding: 6 Month Check List