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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - Catering Your Own Wedding {Guest Post}

Today I'm happy to welcome another guest blogger to Wedding Wednesday! Saxon from Let's Drink Coffee, Darling writes the most adorable blog and has a huge resource of wedding related posts so all you brides-to-be, you've got to check it out! You'll love what she has to share with you today!

I'm so happy to be able to take over Catherine's blog for a day and share a little bit about our wedding with her lovely readers!  

My name is Saxon and I write over at Let's Drink Coffee, Darling! One unique aspect about our wedding is that we provided all the food and drinks (except the cake and cupcakes) ourselves. This is a huge task, so I thought I'd share with you about our experiences!

If you are in the middle of planning a wedding, chances are you've already thought about food, drinks and snacks.  Everyone has a different idea in mind: some ladies are set on hiring a catering company, others want to provide light snacks, and then there's the smaller category of us who want to provide a meal without the expense of the catering costs.

We went with the third route for our wedding.  I'll just say it - I'm pretty sure my family, friends, and future family thought I was crazy.  We had several people offer to help us pay for caterers or suggest we go that route because I'm pretty sure they thought the plans were really just a disaster waiting to happen.  

And a disaster very well could happen if you don't make good plans and have back up plans. 

If you're thinking about doing the food at your wedding yourself, you should consider these questions:
  • Does your wedding venue even allow outside food or drinks? Many venues will not allow any outer sources to provide food or drinks as their business mechanism to keep your money with them. Read contracts closely and know what is allowed and what isn't.
  • Does your wedding venue have adequate facilities to prepare food? A venue with a kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, sinks, the ability to cook in large quantities is essential.  
  • Do you have someone who you can put in charge of the food on the day of your wedding? Remember, this cannot be anyone in your immediate family or wedding party, as this person will likely be busy with this job for the entire time. We opted to hire a few of my dad's friends and coworkers to be in charge of cooking. We did compensate them for their time and efforts.  I would suggest compensating anyone you ask to do a job this large.
  • Are you okay with a buffet style meal? If you have your heart set on plates of food being delivered to your guests as they sit, and a server topping off their glass of wine then this route is most definitely not for you. Be prepared for a self serve buffet style meal where your guests are free to get up and refill their own drinks. And speaking of wine, another thing you might think about is whether or not you want to deal with serving alcohol. If you have some guests under 21, you'll need to make sure someone responsible is overseeing who partakes in any alcohol - precisely why we decided not to have it at all.

Okay, so you still think you want to go with the DIY food option?

Great, I'm glad you do!  

Although there is definitely an added stress factor to providing the food yourself, there are also many benefits. You don't have to pay for cooks or servers. You can purchase the food in bulk to cut down on costs. You can have your family and wedding party help you get some of the food ready the night before after the rehearsal. And one thing I thought was cool was we didn't have to deal with any people we didn't know the day of our wedding.  


Providing food yourselves means you'll need to hound people about RSVPing. This is where I failed. We invited over 150 people to our wedding. Despite our best efforts to have everyone RSVP, a good 25 percent of our guests either did not RSVP or did not RSVP until the day before our wedding - not helpful when buying our own food. That being said, we over bought on food as we assumed those who did not respond to the RSVP would show up. In reality we know most of them would probably be no shows, but we would rather have too much food than not enough.

Some questions you need to ask yourself now is what style of food best matches your finances, your facilities' cooking capabilities, and your available workforce?

We had a springtime outdoor wedding at a lodge. We decided to go with a cookout style meal which included hamburgers, assorted bags of chips, and vegetable trays with dip (for the added "health" benefit). This fit our relaxed style wedding, we didn't have to use the ovens so that the lodge would remain cool inside, and most things could be prepared the night before. My grandma, mom, and matron-of-honor were able to get tomatoes, lettuce, and onions cut up and stored in the refrigerator the night before, as well as the vegetables for the veggie trays. Of course, you don't want to forget the condiments - most stores sell restaurant sized containers with pumps.

Guests in line for food - it was really windy that day!

You'll be dealing with a lot of logistics, so it would be best if you are either good at math or have someone who is be able to help you! (My mother-in-law was super helpful on the logistics part)!  Also, choose foods that are easy to deal with as far as numbers go. If you bake 20 casseroles, it is hard to know how much one person will eat. But if you cook 20 hamburgers you know that feeds 20 people. Get my drift?


While we kept our food options pretty simple, drinks are where we put a little more thought.

Keeping in mind that we had limited amounts of people to help keep the flow of drinks moving, we used three 5 gallon drink coolers for the majority of our drinks - which we kept outdoors with the food. We decided the only realistic way to provide drinks for this amount of people was to use instant mixes. We provided Country Time Lemonade and Instant Lipton Tea Mix, which worked out pretty well.

If you have reservations about using the mixes, you can always splurge on one special drink.
We took the idea of having a signature cocktail, but instead made PW's iced coffee (since we are both known for loving coffee) and chose to not serve alcohol. This took a little more prep work, but was still very very easy.

The night before the wedding I mixed one can of sweetened condensed milk per every two 12-cup pots of coffee and stored it in the refrigerator.  To make things easier, I bought several plastic pitchers from the Dollar Tree so the coffee could be made ahead of time and chill in the refrigerator until it was ready to be used.  I made this stuff keeping in mind that a lot of people don't drink coffee, but this stuff was really a hit!  (Meaning I should have prepared more than I did - we ran out!)

One last note about if you decide to provide your own food rather than hire catering is to check into both options.  Sometimes it may actually be more cost effective to hire catering, so it is worth looking into.  In our case we wanted to do it ourselves because we could provide more for a lower price - especially with our venue being in a remote location.  We decided splurged on our cake and cupcakes, which was SO worth it! 

If you have any specific questions, I'd love to hear from you at my blog or you can email me at letsdrinkcoffeedarling@gmail.com!

Thank you SO much, Saxon! That was so informative! We ended up having a caterer do our wedding but I definitely considered doing it ourselves to save money. Your wedding was beautiful! So glad to have you over here at Happily Ever Crafter!

What was your choice for food for your wedding? Or what will you be choosing and why?

Till next time,

If you're a fellow blogger and are interested in guest posting for this series, shoot me an e-mail at CatherinePageWood@gmail.com! Or, even if you're not a blogger and would like to share your wedding story or advice, send me an e-mail! I would LOVE to share your stories!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the other editions of Wedding Wednesday!


  1. Saxon, well done! We also used a family friend (who is a home economics teacher at the same school as my mom) to do the catering for our wedding - SO worth it! It was so much cheaper and she was so flexible. Plus, some of the high school seniors volunteered to serve the food so we got really cheap help and they got experience catering for an event. Our wedding was so full of risks (like choosing a venue that was not yet finished) but it was all so worth it :) Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. That sounds like a wonderful deal you had with the home ec teacher! I would imagine she was really helpful in the planning process! And great deal that the seniors could help too! I could only wish someone could have given me a bit more guidance on the quantity of things like heads of lettuce and tomatoes since we had to buy everything ourselves, but everything worked out in the end! Sometimes risks are worth it, and I most definitely feel more proud about how our wedding turned out knowing how much effort my family and I put into the day!

  2. Replies
    1. Of COURSE! You're welcome back anytime!! I'm so glad you guest posted :)

  3. Nice idea! Our venue doesn't allow outside food but we don't mind because I don't think that's something I could handle, lol. Plus we've been to this venue before and the food is amazing... it's one of the reasons we chose it. We're keeping the centerpieces simple (lanterns with candles that I got for about $15 each! Versus $200+ floral centerpieces) and DIY favors. Plus a few other things to keep the cost "down" since the venue is the bulk of it. Actually our venue pricing is "cheap" for where I live in NJ, where some places can be $250/person!

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  7. The drinks were good and the food was divine. Then there was the view, really beautiful. I only wish we could go back there for dinner on our anniversary.


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