Catering your own wedding can save you a considerable amount of money and has the potential to really stretch your budget. After all, food is one of the single most expensive cost components in your wedding planning budget.
But to successfully pull off a DIY wedding with a self-catered wedding reception, there are some insider’s tricks you should know, plus many logistics you’ll need to consider. Be warned: If don’t do this right, catering your own wedding could end up costing you more in stress than it saves you in dollars.
However, if done right, catering your own wedding can result in a MUCH more affordable wedding, and actually even be fun. Plus, just like with any other wedding DIY project, you’ll get a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment knowing you did it yourself.
But here’s a question some couples have asked us: Is it tacky to cater your own wedding?
Not at all! There is nothing in the rules of wedding etiquette to imply that you shouldn’t cater your own wedding. As long as you follow the best practices described below, and handle it all with good taste, you can pull this off with class and style.
Here we give you a run down of everything you’ll need to successfully cater your own wedding:
Catering Your Own Wedding: A Professional Caterer’s Secrets
Caterer’s often use their freezers to stock-pile freezable wedding appetizers for their busy wedding season. While some caterers make their own appetizers, we’ll let you in on a little secret – many professional caterers actually purchase pre-made frozen appetizers from their food suppliers. When catering your own wedding, you can do the same thing. You’ll score great deals if you purchase appetizers for your wedding in bulk or large quantities from places like Costco, Sams Club, or other big discount warehouses.
Whether a caterer prepares their appetizers themselves or whether they purchase pre-made appetizers from a food vendor, the appetizers usually get stored in the freezer until the wedding weekend. Just as the freezer can be a caterer’s best friend when it comes to preparing hundreds or thousands of party foods, the freezer can also become your best friend if you are catering your own wedding.
If you own, or have access to, a decent sized freezer you can begin amassing freezable wedding day foods, months before your wedding day.
By setting aside one morning, afternoon, or evening a week in the months leading up to the wedding, you can begin cooking up your own wedding reception. Its not just appetizers that can be frozen, but other menu items that freeze well like lasagna, meatballs, etc.
Here’s a caterer’s secrets for how to store and transport all those delicious bite-size appetizers. Invest in clean, empty pizza boxes. Pizza boxes are the perfect way to store, freeze, and transport hundreds of appetizers to the wedding reception. They are space saving and efficient. Here’s what to do:
1. Line the boxes with a sheet of bakery or sandwich paper.
2. Line all your appetizers up in neat rows side by side inside the lined box. Depending on the size of the appetizer, I generally was able to average between 60 to 80 wedding appetizers in a box.
3. Lay another sheet or sheets of bakery or sandwich paper on top of the appetizers.
4. Close the box.
5. Using a permanent magic marker, label the boxes in two spots. You will want to label the box for quick identification on the front side and also on the top of the box.
6. Make sure to include any special directions on the top of each box. This can be achieved with copies you can create from your computer printer or a copy machine, then cut and tape the directions to each box.
7. Wrap the box with commercial plastic wrap that can be purchased from a warehouse like Sam’s or Costco. You will want to wrap these boxes as tightly as possible. Begin by wrapping the pizza box from the bottom. Pull out a large extended length of wrap without cutting it. Then set the pizza box on top and start wrapping under and over until your box is completely secured in plastic wrap. When this is done correctly, you can literally turn the box upside down and the appetizers will not fall out of the box. As a caterer, I wrapped everything in this under, over fashion. Not only did it protect the food in the storage process, it also protected the food from accidents during transportation.
8. Put the wrapped box in the freezer and store until your wedding weekend. It is always a smart idea to monitor your freezer to be certain it is working properly.
If you start to run short on freezer space, get creative about places you can store food for your wedding. What about family, friends, or perhaps your church has a freezer that you can use for wedding reception storage.
To transport the wrapped boxes, simply stack them in clear large plastic bags. Tie the bags. This will protect the boxes of appetizers from shifting around during transportation. By all means assign this job of appetizer transport to a family member or friend. I would suggest asking a friend or family member, or hiring a staffer to be your appetizer coordinator for the wedding day.
If you have too many leftover appetizers after the wedding reception you really should not refreeze them. If you can not use them up during the weekend …why not donate them to a food bank and bless others less fortunate than yourself? Again, let a friend of family member coordinate the donation of excess wedding food for you.
Food Safety: When catering your own wedding its very important to ensure that all food is being handled in a safe manner and stays within proper temperature zones. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you enlist the assistance of a conscientious family member, friend, or hired assistant to help you. Don’t let this food safety aspect scare you off from self-catering or semi-catering your own wedding reception. As long as you are conscientious about proper food handling and storage, you should not encounter problems.