Catering Your Own Wedding Reception Ideas

Finger food dessers.

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Catering your own wedding reception requires careful planning months before your wedding. Your wedding reception catering can be semi catered or self-catered.

Catering your own wedding reception can be very expensive. But don't despair! There are wedding catering ideas that will allow you to have your dream reception without breaking the bank. When catering your own wedding you should carefully plan the details and let others do the work.

The bride will plan the following months before the wedding day:

  • Select a suitable venue.
  • Enlist the help of friends and family.
  • Organizes the details.
  • Creates the action plan.
  • Plans the schedule.
  • Writes a to do lists.
  • Creates the menu.
  • Selects the recipes that will be used.
  • Delegates the responsibilities.

Other things that you will need to take into consideration:

  • How is the food going to be stored once it is has been prepared.
  • Sanitation and food care information. After all you want your wedding day to be remembered as a special event and not one where everyone got food poisoning.
  • How are you going to decorate the reception venue and tables?

Like any big project it is best handled in small manageable pieces. A step by step approach should be taken to ensure a successful wedding reception and great tasting food.

When catering your own wedding reception you will want to keep the cost down as much as possible.

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Personalized wedding napkins and drink ware available from Beau Coup

Ideas To Keep The Wedding Budget Down

If you are like most couples who are about to get married, you are already discovering how expensive a wedding can be. Adding up all expenses of the wedding gown, flowers, photographers, reception hire, and all the little extras you soon realize that by catering your own wedding you can really keep the cost down.

You can provide anything from simple wedding finger food, a buffet to a full sit down meal at a fraction of the cost that a caterer would charge.

All that you need is careful planning and the help of some reliable friends who are willing to give you a few hours of their time.

Menus and recipes are important when planning your reception, but you have to make sure that your particular situation is right for self catering. The two most important things to ask yourself before you start planning are:

1. Do you have enough family and friends who are willing to help out?

To cater you own wedding will require a group effort and this could mean enlisting the help from anywhere between eight to thirty friends.

You will ask your friends to work as a team of two and for each team; you will assign a task or two that they will do on the day: such as making a pot of coffee, or cutting up vegetables, setting up the buffet table etc, by doing this every person's job will be light and they will still be able to enjoy being a guest at your wedding.

2. Is the Reception Site Suitable for Catering Your Own Wedding?

Before you settle on any reception site you must determine if it is suitable to self-catering. Things that you must look out for are:

  • Find out if there are any restrictions on bringing in outside food? Many places will insist that you use their own caterers or caterers that they recommend and if you don’t use this service the hire for the facility increases.
  • Is the location large enough to hold the number of guests you intend to invite? This question should also be asked if you are holding the reception in a private home.
  • Does the kitchen have a refrigerator and sufficient table space for food preparation? Although a refrigerator is not necessary it would save you the trouble of hiring or bringing in coolers to keep the food from spoiling.
  • Are there enough electrical outlets and are these located in the areas that you intend to set up the serving tables? You may want to set up an urn for hot water, food warmers to keep the food hot, or decorate the hall will fairy lights.
  • Will the venue provide items that you otherwise may have to hire or buy? Some venues have their own tables and chairs, linens, trash cans and other items that their customers can use when they hire the hall. This will save you a lot of money and help stretch out the budget.
  • Do check out these items provided by the venue and make sure that they are usable because you don’t want any unpleasant surprises on your wedding day when it is too late to do anything about it.
Table number ideas

Decorative table numbers available from Beau Coup

Catering Your Own Wedding - Where to Start?

Now that you have got the help and support from family and friends and the reception location is suitable, you are now ready to start planning.

One of the first steps is to select your menu and choosing which of your helpers will make each dish. So select the menu carefully and match your helpers with the jobs.

Keep the menu simple don’t choose complicated dishes that need to be prepared on the day, instead choose dishes that can be made ahead of time and prepare quick salads on the day.

You may like to discuss with each of your helpers what jobs they will feel comfortable doing and narrow down the choices according to the abilities of the helpers.

This could mean using their talents to the best advantage possible, for example if one of the helpers is talented in baking and decorating cakes don’t let them be in charge of making the salad.

As you are considering your list of helpers, look for someone who is well organized and reliable to act as a coordinator and pull everything together.

This person does not necessarily have to take part in the food preparation but just make sure that the reception preparation runs smoothly.

Don’t try to coordinate the event yourself you will be busy enough with other things.

You will still maintain control - you will decide on the menu and choose your helpers, but you will have someone else to handle all the details which will take some of the stress from you.

As you assign out the jobs, keep track of things by writing the helpers names, their phone numbers on a job description list as well as making a shopping list of ingredients needed for each dish.

At the start of the do it yourself wedding catering process you may like to get your helpers together. Introduce the coordinator to everyone and encourage them to call the coordinator with any questions that they may have (but do check with the coordinator first to see if this is okay).

Hand out copies of the job descriptions, shopping list and reception plan, so that everyone is clear on what will be happening on the day. Make sure that you keep the original job description, shopping lists and reception plans for yourself.

This is also a good time to discuss how the food will be obtained for each of the teams. There are three ways in which these items can be obtained:

  1. You can ask each team to purchase the items on their individual shopping list and then reimburse them later.
  2. You and/or the coordinator can shop for all the ingredients, then sort out the items that are required for each dish, then deliver these items to each of the helpers. This will work out if you want complete control of how much is spent and the quality of the food purchased.
  3. You could ask that each helper purchase the items and suggest that it be their wedding gift to you. If you do this remember that some of the items on the list will cost more than others, and this may be a financially hard for some of the helpers and in some cases they could be offended.

You will now have to decide on the type of wedding reception that you will have so that you can plan your wedding reception menu.

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