Cater Your Own Wedding & Save Big Money

how to cater your own wedding

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Want to save some money or take DIY weddings to the next level? Consider catering your own wedding. You can save a lot of money and it is surprisingly easy. Even if you hate to cook or don’t think you’ll have the time, don’t worry.  All it takes is a little planning, some organization, and a group of friends or family members who would be honored to help. Still skeptical? Follow the five steps below, and you’ll be on your way to saving hundreds, possible even thousands of dollars!

cheap catering ideas

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How to Cater Your Own Wedding. Five Easy Steps!

Step One: Choose the reception type or theme.

Remember to select a meal your guests will be expecting depending on the time of day you’ll be hosting the reception. DIY wedding food doesn’t mean you get to be lazy. Plan ahead and make sure you prepare food your guests want.

Step Two: Decide on a menu

The majority of your DIY wedding food menu should consist of things that can be bought pre-made or are easy to assemble. Consider frozen foods that only need to be warmed up, bakery/delicatessen items and/or take out from your favorite restaurant. Crock-pots can be used to keep food warm if you don’t have access to chafing dishes.

diy wedding food

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Step three: Gather your friends and assign a “food leader”

As the bride you may be too busy before your wedding to oversee the food arrangements or do the cooking yourself. Cheap catering ideas won’t work if you can’t enjoy you’re own wedding. Solicit the help of very close friends and family (ask politely, though, never demand) and choose someone to be the “leader”.  Work closely with your “leader” before the wedding so that she/he knows exactly what you want. Catering for weddings isn’t easy so make sure everything is done to your specifications by being proactive.

catering your own wedding

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Step four: Divide jobs between helpers.

It is best to divide your helpers into pairs, and let each pair work on one specific item or job. For example: if you are planning a dinner reception, give one couple the job of cooking and assembling the main dish, while letting other couples take care of the side-dishes, decorations, etc. That way, everyone knows exactly what is expected of him or her, and no one gets confused or overwhelmed. If you are planning an hors d’oeuvres, or dessert reception, simply assign each helper one dessert or finger food to make/buy (of course, you’ll be paying).

diy wedding food ideas

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Step Five: Arrange a time-line/checklist:

Make sure that all of your helpers are aware of what your time-line is and keep checking in with them to make sure everything is being done according to plan.

diy wedding food ideas

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Things to Consider When Catering Your Own Wedding:

  • When are you buying the groceries?
  • When do cooked courses need to be prepared?Can they be cooked ahead and frozen?
  • When do orders, such as party platters, need to be picked up and who is going to pick them up?

You will also need to decide when everyone is expected to show up on the day of the wedding.

Easy Reception Food Ideas

Dessert and Candy Buffet. Offer a variety of cakes, cookies, pies and sweet treat favs. (If you prefer, buy everything pre-made from your local grocery and/or bakery, just make sure that you host this sort of reception at a time of day when guests won’t expect a meal – i.e. mid-afternoon), and don’t forget to offer hot and cold beverages.

dessert buffet wedding

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Hors d’oeuvres reception. Appetizers can be arranged on one long table or on several smaller “stations” throughout the room. (Consider: fruit, veggie, and cheese platters, buying pre-made appetizers from your grocery freezer or purchased online and take-out from your favorite restaurant.

wedding buffet

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DIY Dinner reception. This is a bit more lofty a goal, but can be dine with organization and lots of patience. We suggest setting dinner receptions up buffet style so that you don’t have to worry about hiring waiters. (Menu Suggestion: Ravioli with Alfredo sauce, sliced turkey/roast beef with gravy, green beans almondine, salad and bread sticks. To save time, buy frozen ravioli and jarred Alfredo sauce. If you do not have access to chaffing dishes place food in crock-pots to keep warm. Pretty easy!

Don’t forget the wedding cake. Places like Costco, Sam’s Club and other discount clubs can be your best friend when catering your own wedding. They offer some pretty, well made cakes which can be stacked to form a wedding cake and topped with some silk flowers and a light weight cake topper. Voila!

diy wedding cake

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Other Cheap Catering Ideas

Want a unique and over-the-top food idea for your wedding or next event? How about Food Trucks? I’m a huge fan of the food truck revolution and love the trend so much that when I thought about unique ideas for an event or wedding reception, food trucks came to mind!
Food trucks have been around for years but gourmet food trucks have recently become all the rage, they are everywhere selling all types of foods! And with the popularity of The Food Network show, The Great Food Truck Race, a lot of chefs and even restaurant owners are turning out gourmet food trucks because of lower overhead cost, flexible schedules and they get to interact more with their customers. Compare to some caterers, food trucks can cost less and serve better food too!
wedding reception food ideas

Source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/103793966386100187/

Want a unique and over-the-top food idea for your wedding or next event? How about Food Trucks? I’m a huge fan of the food truck revolution and love the trend so much that when I thought about unique ideas for an event or wedding reception, food trucks came to mind!
cheap catering ideas
Food trucks have been around for years but gourmet food trucks have recently become all the rage, they are everywhere selling all types of foods! And with the popularity of The Food Network show, The Great Food Truck Race, a lot of chefs and even restaurant owners are turning out gourmet food trucks because of lower overhead cost, flexible schedules and they get to interact more with their customers. Compare to some caterers, food trucks can cost less and serve better food too!
So consider this fun and unique idea for your next event that’s sure to make a lasting impression on your guests!
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About the Author
Team Wedding, founded in January 2000, is a network of wedding related directories and niche wedding websites designed to alleviate wedding planning stress and to give brides and grooms the one-stop-shop experience they need in this busy, modern world. Top Wedding Sites, is the Internet’s first directory of the top ranked wedding sites, voted on by brides, grooms and others interested in hosting a wedding. Plan your wedding fast, easy and in the comfort of your own home, office or anywhere you can get an internet connection.

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  1. Curtis Wallis

    Wow. Catering your own wedding would be brave. But this article makes it seem possible. Good Luck!

  2. Jen

    I have heard that buffet style weddings are particulairly popular with outdoor weddings- having never been to one myself does anyone have any thoughst on this?

    How have guests responded?
    Was there confusion (lines, people missing the food completely)
    And lastly, do you end up going through more food than a regular sit down meal as people are free to take seconds and ‘load up’?

  3. Top Wedding Sites

    Jen – to get a quick response from wedding experts go to Top Wedding Questions.

  4. tcamp

    I catered my own wedding many years ago. It can be done if you have a large family (mine is Italian and they love to cook!) to do all the cooking especially for a small to medium wedding. It CAN be done and you can save a lot of money.

  5. Lyndsey

    Yes you can cater your wedding, it definitely can be done. but if you’re looking for your wedding day to be completely stress free I suggest getting a caterer. My sister got my mom and friends to plan and decorate including the meal as well for her wedding. Everyone was late and running around making the day very hectic. Also when the photographer was at our house taking pictures my mom & family was making the punch, ect inside and completely missed all the girls getting pictures. My wedding is coming up next year and i want everyone to relax and enjoy it, so it will be catered.

  6. Tom

    I help run a wedding venue and we do allow outside catering. But please please please read about food safety! There are dozens of ways to get sick from food that is not prepared and stored properly. If you search for Food Safety for Receptions you will find a lot of info on how to keep it safe.

    Biggest advice, wear gloves, keep all food at 140 or above or 40 or below.

    Cooked food, esp meat should be either immediately eaten or rapidly cooled for reheating at the reception.

    DO NOT TAKE CHANCES! Also, if you use a caterer not attached to the venue, make sure he is licensed and handles food properly.

  7. neys

    I have heard that buffet style weddings are particularly popular with outdoor weddings. It can be done if you have a large family to do all the cooking especially for a small to medium wedding.

  8. Steven

    If you search for Food Safety for Receptions you will find a lot of info on how to keep it safe. Also when the photographer was at our house taking pictures my mom & family was making the punch.

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