How to Cater Your Own Wedding

Catering is one area that is often tempting to cut in tight-budget weddings. Catering your own wedding is a possibility that can save you 50 percent or more on reception cost. However, it may only be a realistic idea if the size of the reception you plan is small. Basic reception finger foods and drinks can successfully be managed by the bride-to-be, family and friends. However, formal dinner meals and large guest list weddings can result in added physical and emotional stress for the bride. These are often best left to professionals. Here are a few tips if you decide to cater your own wedding.


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    Search wedding magazines and websites for ideas months ahead of the wedding.
    • Many do-it-yourself decorations and centerpiece ideas can be found.
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    Analyze your guest list and predict which guests will attend the reception.
    • Traditionally, 20 percent of guests invited do not attend.
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    Calculate the amount you can spend on food.
    • Most couples spend 35-to-50 percent of their budget on the reception.
    • Deduct the costs of other facets of your wedding that you are not willing to eliminate from your budget. Plan your reception using the money that is left.
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    Plan your menu.
    • Food at a wedding can be as simple, or as elaborate, as you desire. This will depend on your budget and preferences.
    • Finger food receptions can cost as little as $5 per guest while full meals can be more than $20 per guest.
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    Create lists of items that can be prepared early and frozen or stored and items that need to be prepared just before the wedding day.
    • Ask family members and friends to view the list. Assign foods to make or jobs to carry out to volunteers.
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    Research the least expensive way to purchase items.
    • Look for coupons and special discounts that may be available.
    • Purchase items in bulk rather than in several small packages.
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    Consider hiring someone to carry out the most difficult aspects of catering a wedding.
    • Pay someone to make the bride and groom cakes rather than trying to make them yourself.
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    Visit the venue that will host the reception.
    • Gain an idea of how you can store food before the reception and how serving lines will be arranged.
    • Check to see if the venue offers serving dishes and utensils or if you will provide those yourself.
    • The tools that you have to work with will greatly affect how you prepare and serve the food.
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    Make all foods that can be prepared early as soon as you can.
    • The more you can get completed in the early months or weeks before the wedding, the less stress you will have on the days before the wedding.
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    Rent the venue for the reception for the night before as well as the day of your wedding.
    • Complete as much of the reception decorating as possible the night before your wedding.
    • Take all food items, if there is storage available, to the location the night before the wedding.
    • You want to be able to relax as much as possible on your wedding day without having extra catering duties to complete.
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    Rely on others for cleaning up after the reception.
    • You do not want to be obligated to stay around to clean after your wedding.
    • Employ a clean-up crew or seek volunteers from family and friends.


  • Send thank-you cards to anyone that volunteered to assist you in catering your wedding.
  • Remain in control of the catering process. Check often with family members and friends that have agreed to help.


  • Do not underestimate the food or drink. Guests often eat more during receptions that occur during meal times. More drinks are consumed at outside summer weddings, due to the heat.

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Categories: Weddings | Ceremony & Reception