Daughter's Wedding Reception- please help me!

cannonApril 13, 2006

I have never been responsible for anything like this before now. My daughter is having a rather large wedding- expecting around 120+ guests at the reception. Although the wedding is leaning towards formal, the reception will be less formal with one of our friends catering barbeque.

The Wedding & Groom's cake should be very elegant. I have rented table linen, a champagne fountain, a four-tier silver plater to place ?something? in but that is about it.

I don't know the first thing about preparing party foods but I am going to need a crash course. I can see myself preparing a raw vegetable tray but I need a dip recipe.

I would like a fruit tray but what looks the best & is there a trick to keeping the fruit fresh. Fruit dep recipe?

There are so many great foods- stuffed mushrooms, clam rolls, shrimp cocktail, different cheeses & crackers & the list goes on. The problem is...I don't know how to prepare anything. Is there a book someone has used & can recommend? Can anyone give me step by step instructions on how to prepare foods they think would be appropriate? How far in advance can I prepare these items?

I hope this is the right forum to reach someone who is talented in catering parties & entertaining. Wish I could just hire someone but that is not a financial option. Thanks!

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Get thee over to the Cooking forum! Lots of people over there just dying to help.
Off the top of my head I woulkd say nix the champagne fountain and just serve it out of bottles...a fountain is a machine designed to remove fiss, warm it up and generally make a good thing nasty.
Put Kool-aid in it and serve the good stuff out of the bottles.
Are you planning on making it all your self? Or will friends help? Will the people who are hosting the party do any of the food? Are you doing the whole meal or just appetisers and side dishes?
Linda C

Here is a link that might be useful: cooking forum

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 12:26PM
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Linda's right! Come over to the cooking forum to ask for some recipes. There are so many recipes going around and also a lot of people with a lot of experience doing large parties and people who have done catering and I don't think too many of them come over here to browse, so they won't see this post. I'm sure you'll get some answers here, but come on over to "Cooking" as well!

I'm sorry I don't have recipes for the specific items you asked for, but when you narrow things down a little bit as to what you have in mind, I'm sure the going will be easier than you think.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 6:15PM
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You are probably going to have to enlist help from friends. I can not see you attending to your duties as mother of the bride and also being a "caterer" for this many people. A veggie tray for 10-20 people is one thing. Doing one for 120 people, is another. And, add to that all the other food you want...Wow! Are you responsible for the cakes too?

I don't think one person can pull off all the foods you mentioned for this many people without years of experience and a little help. Plus, even if you could make all the food, the storage and serving of it becomes an issue.

I would focus on managing and organizing a group of people who can help you. Do you have many friends who enjoy cooking and would want to help? Maybe you could cheaply pay some neighborhood girls to help serve, put out the foods, etc.

You may want to reconsider hiring someone. If it's finances, I would cut corners on the fountain, etc. and instead of stuffed mushrooms, clam rolls, and shrimp cocktail, you could consider serving cheaper items that you could pay to have someone else make. You may also be surprised that you aren't really saving all that much money doing it yourself. I have noticed that when I entertain, it seems like I'm paying more to buy the food than it would cost to just go out to eat the same meal. Just something to consider.

You really will want to be able to remember and enjoy the day and not have to focus on the food. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 1:24AM
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I agree that you will need help. A caterer needn't be very expensive, but if you really can't afford that then do recruite as many friends and/or family members who can help and have a lot of experience with this sort of thing.

As others have already said, get thyself over to the Cooking forum and ask for ideas and recipes there. They are extremely helpful and experienced folks over there! Then, when you feel that have collected a good set of recipes and suggestions you want to use, print them all and show them to your food committee. :-)

My step-daughter's backyard reception was catered and it was not very expensive. One of the most popular foods was a variety of different wheels of brie cheese, all with different toppings. I can't remember any of the other foods, but I remember they were tasty and it didn't set us back and lot of money.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 5:21PM
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Please don't take this the wrong way, but here is another very strong vote for having a caterer do this for you, even if it means much less expensive refreshments.

It sounds like you don't have a whole lot of cooking experience (you wrote, "I don't know how to prepare anything"). With all respect, a wedding reception for 120 is NOT the time to learn -- even if it weren't your own daughter's wedding.

This would be a daunting job even for those with lots of cooking and entertaining experience. I think even -- perhaps especially -- the most experienced would be inclined to get a caterer for a group this large, especially as mother of the bride. You will have so many other things you'll have to attend to, and even more than that that you don't want to miss. Do you really want to be refreshing the buffet when your daughter and son-in-law are having their first dance?

If I were in your position, I would call a few caterers, tell them your budget -- and tell them it's FIRM -- and ask what they can do for that money. You may be very pleasantly surprised. If it's still out of range, consider ordering platters from a food store or inexpensive restaurant, and perhaps hiring a few servers/cleaners. You can supplement the latter and probably even the caterer option with some dishes you or friends and relatives make ahead and have the caterer serve along with his/her food.

Your peace of mind, not having to worry about this in the months leading up to the wedding, is really important, too, along with being able to enjoy your guests on the big day. To me, that is worth some money. So if I were in your position, I'd cut way back on everything else if necessary: liquor (certainly a fountain is unnecessary), decorations, types of food, prom-y stuff like limos and favors, and even fancy wedding clothes if necessary. Being able to be a relaxed hostess who can enjoy her guests is more important, in my opinion, than fancy arrangements. Everyone is different, but that's just my experience.

Congratulations to you all!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 5:45PM
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Here is a link to a site called Dayle's Growlies for Groups. Lots of planning tips and recipes for large groups and weddings.

I agree with the others - the cooking forum is a great place to ask for ideas and recipes. Everyone is so helpful there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Party Planning & Recipes for Large Groups

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 10:03PM
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I'm going to second everything that gellchom said. Cooking for a large crowd is a huge job even if you have lots of cooking experience and if you don't already know how to make these things, it can get very very hairy. Being the Mother of the Bride is another huge job and will demand so much of your time in advance of the wedding and at the wedding. And being the server at a wedding is a third huge job, and it cannot be done by one person -- even if they have nothing else to do! Not to mention a drink server for your champagne.

So what you're looking at is one person doing the job of five, on a very special day of your and your daughter's lives, when you should be enjoying it instead.

I had a party at my house for 100 people (not a wedding) and made a few things myself but mostly just bought trays from a local grocery store. My MIL was the main "server" during the party making sure that everything on the table got replenished as needed, but I did all the pre-party set up. Pre-party alone took me over an hour!

I have to agree that the best thing to do is get it catered, let the caterers make the food, set up, and serve. If that is impossible, next choice would be to order food trays. I'd find some college kids who are interested in a job for the day and pay them a set amount to help you with set up and to keep the food flowing as needed.

I agree with ditching the fountain - unnecessary expense. But either way, you'll need someone to serve that champagne -- who's going to pour (or refill the fountain)?

Personally, I'd do whatever it takes to avoid doing any work at the reception, even if it meant serving very little, cutting out the booze, whatever. Sorry to be so negative -- but I think you'll be so much happier if you don't try to take on all these tasks.

Congratulations and best of luck!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 5:14PM
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I agree with what the other posters have already said. You are taking on too much. Hire someone to do the work for you. If you are having a friend cater the bbq, couldn't she/he also be in charge of ordering the party food? Your responsibilities as MOB are a handfull to begin with. Don't short change yourself or your daughter and miss out on a wonderful day by making sure there is enough fruit dip for everyone. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 9:27AM
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Poor cannon -- you already told us that a caterer is out of your budget, and here we are all nagging you to hire one anyway. But there are a few things to consider:

1) As carla35 pointed out, you may be surprised to find out that it doesn't always cost that much less to do it yourself. I think caterers get groceries and supplies wholesale, so that helps cut costs there. (Example: I recently ordered a pre-cooked and sliced brisket instead of making one myself for a big crowd, because I realized that the per-pound COOKED cost -- brisket shrinks a lot -- was actually about the same.)

2) Even if it costs a little more, if you can possibly afford it by cutting back somewhere else, it's worth it to you to be able to enjoy the wedding rather than playing waitress.

3) It's worth it to your GUESTS, too -- the food and drink aren't as important to them as YOU are. I am as big a chow hound as anyone -- I love to eat at weddings. But if I were one of your relatives or friends, I would vastly prefer just a cup of coffee and a cookie and seeing your happy, relaxed face enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime day to a fancy meal and champagne without you, or worse yet, with you running yourself ragged to serve it to me. I can go to a restaurant if what I want is a good meal; I came to the wedding to celebrate with YOU!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 1:11PM
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Maybe I can offer some insight, my Mom is a cater and I work with/for her quite a bit. To be honest sometimes "finger foods" are more tedious and expensive. If you are BBQ'ing Make it a meal. It will probably be cheaper.... Add baked beans, roasted or cheesy potatoes, mac& cheese, pasta salad or coleslaw....

Veggie Dip thre are a couple of ways to go. Purchase a large bottle of ranch salad dressing or make it yourself with a dry mix. Peppercorn is good too. Most veggie can be cut up and/or prepared 2-3 days before the wedding. Store in Ziplock bags. PLace a papertowel in the bottom to pull moisture.
Fruit Dip: 2 (8oz) cream cheese, 1 (8oz) whipping topping and a few tablespoons of strawberry jam. Mix well.
Your fruit (most) can be cut up 2 days before as well and store in Ziplocks again. Strawberries, apples, bananas, peaches, apricots, pears need to be prepare the day of the wedding as the will change colors. Use lemon juice or lemon/lime soda to keep them fresh looking. Most melons, pineapple and grapes "weather" well. Use the melon rines as serving bowls. You can use the tops of pineapple as decoration.

Cheeseballs are an inexpensive way to go and they do "go farther" I do have a couple that are quite yummy and they can be make 2 weeks ahead and frozen.

Ask some of your girlfriends to help out with serving/replenishing.

You could certainly do punch I do have some recipes for that as well. Iced tea.... They are inexpensive. OR you could have tubs of ice with various sodas, water and juice boxes for the kids. You guest can serve themselves.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions, need help or recipes.... I'd be happy to share!

Best Wishes, STacey

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 2:17PM
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I cook for large groups of people but I cater now. I don't do anything on my own or with help from anyone if I have more than 30 people in my house.

Sorry. But, it's your daughters wedding. Get a grip. Hire people to do this so you can enjoy yourself.

One of the worst weddings I ever went to was when the mother of the bride cooked for 120 people. She was in the kitchen the whole time. It was terrible. She didn't get to enjoy her daughters wedding reception. Plus, she wasn't a very good hostess.

Not to be totally harsh but given that you said you rented a champagne fountain shows that you are not prepared for a wedding. Most brides today don't choose those. They have a chocolate fountain. They have signature drinks. Champagne is a thing of the past.

Again I didn't mean it to be harsh. I only meant it as a boost to hire someone and to enjoy one of the best days of your daughters life!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 7:19PM
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canon ...yoooo whooo! We'd love to help but you gotta play !

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 1:25PM
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We recently attended a home wedding reception, it was very well done too. On the tables when we arrived were platters with dips, a range of crackers and veges. The mother of the groom works for a catering firm so she was able to get some of her workmates to help with the catering. The food was laid out smorgas board style, no major cooking done, everything was cooked beforehand and heated up.
Have you thought of approaching a catering school? Students there may jump at the chance for some work experience.

For my MIL wedding caterers who cooked using a spit (meat roasted over coals) and supplied salads were used, didn't cost very much per head.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 10:25PM
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