DIY Wedding

rx7grl17December 26, 2006

I'm getting married in February but need a little help with the food. It's a "small" wedding compared to the usual with about 60 guests (hopefully less). I'm having a cocktail and hor'dourves 'reception' at my house afterwards and I'm just wondering about menus and keeping the food warm. How many days in advance can you make hor'dourves? I'm sure I can find someone to come to the house the day of to help warm it up would I be best off to use chafing dishes? This was supposed to be stress free for me... don't think that will happen. Any opinions or ideas will be greatly appreciated.

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The number one thing that makes large-scale parties (which yours is) stress-free for me is to hire some help! When I host my big holiday party I have my waitress lady come about an hour early and she plates everything while I get ready. Once the party has started, she keeps everything rolling by washing as she goes, clearing plates and refilling food. I never once have to worry about food or drinks. She charges $25/hour, plus when I pay her at the end of the night I've had a few drinks so I usually give her a healthy tip as well! If you figure she'll be there for about 4 or 5 hours, it is money very well spent.

Many people hire a local teenager to help out when they entertain. It's a good idea that will save you some money, but make sure whomever you hire (professional waitress or teen) can handle it. This is one occasion where you don't want to interrupt your time with the guests to help out in the kitchen.

Congratulations on your marriage!


    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 1:17PM
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congrats rx.

yes, you can make many things days ahead and even a week or so ahead as long as they freeze well.

swedish meatballs would go well i chafing dishes. vegetable and cheese trays need no heat and can be cut up the day ahead and plated, covered well and refrigerated. many appetizers freeze well. heck, sam's club sells boxes of frozen appetizers. mini egg rolls; cheese puffs, pigs in a blanket.

tea sandwiches, all your bread can be cut the day before and all your fillings made, then just assemble in the morning.

your house will be all set up, tablecovers on, flowers set out and all that ahead of time, your server(s) will just have to get things heated up, out of the refrig. put little tags on the tables or in serving platters/bowls as to what goes where. then there's no mistaking where something goes. you have time to figure the layout ahead of time.

is there a tech school in your area? i would contact them and look for a second year culinary student or two to help with everything. but just make sure you spell out exactly what your expectations of them are ahead of time when you meet them, even down to how you want them dressed (i.e., white shirt, black pants/skirt).

again, congrats

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 3:56PM
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by the way, you can also purchase the mini pre-made phyllo cups and fill them with either seafood salad, chicken salad or use some for desserts as well.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 3:58PM
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My brother and his girlfriend are willing to be at the house to watch over people and to pitch in. Earthly, I saw those phyllo cups when I was shopping tonight and i'll definitely be going back for some for the wedding. I was thinking about those with chicken salad.. yum. Thanks for the congrats on the wedding. I also plan to go to Sams Club for some easy to make stuff. I know it will work out i just have to plan carefully.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 8:49PM
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This is what I would do for a 60 person wedding party.

For one there is a cake on Epicurious that is to die for. It's decorated with fresh fruit but then it has a decadent alcohol soaked base. No icing though.

I would do massive amounts of cheese, fruit, wine, champagne, and beer. If I absolutely had to have a 'food' I'd only do a chicken tender in dipping sauce, stuffed mushroom and/or chicken salad in the phyllo cups, canapes.

I would not do anything over that.

I would also really crunch numbers to see what it would be to hire someone. Anything over 30 needs at least two people constantly cleaning up and serving drinks. Price it out.

Feb. is a very slow month for caterers. They are happy to do business. The amount of money you will spend on food yourself could be spent on a caterer.

What state are you in? I may have a couple of contacts for you. I am a member of ISES.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 1:00PM
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I don't want to rain on your parade, because I know you want to do the cooking yourself, but please, please reconsider about getting the food done for you and some professional or even amateur help to set it out and clean it up. Of all days for you to have to worry about feeding SIXTY people -- in your home -- I am just afraid you are pretty much going to miss your own wedding! If it were me, I would cut back on just about any other expense first (please don't tell me you are having things like a limo, an expensive gown, and professional makeup, but trying to do the reception all by yourself!). You deserve to be a guest -- indeed, the guest of honor -- at your own wedding reception, not a server/dishwasher.

ilovepink makes a very good point: you may well find you can get this catered for little more than it would cost you to DIY. As they buy in bulk, they can do things a lot cheaper.

At least do the research to make an informed decision: set a budget and call 2-3 caterers (even the kind that just prepare food to be picked up, as opposed to the whole party planner type shebang). Tell them that your figure is FIRM and ask them to tell you what they can do for that. That doesn't cost you a cent, and I bet you you will get a pleasant surprise. As ilovepink points out as well, that's a slow time for caterers, and they may well be happy to do it for close to cost. earthlydelights' idea about a tech school student is excellent, too. In any case, do hire a couple of people -- even teenagers in a pinch -- to set up, replenish, and clean up (which has to be done all along, as people leave stuff around).

Consider also that this is not just affecting you; it's for your guests. They want to see you relaxed and celebrating, not waiting on them and possibly stressed out.

Please take all our comments in the spirit intended. I have given parties for lots of people and done all the work myself, so it's not like I'm saying it can't be done. But for such an important family event? I wouldn't even consider it -- in fact, that's when I splurge on the caterer that I know thinks of EVERYTHING, so I don't have to do or even think about ANYTHING when I am busy with my friends and relatives. The caterers all have good food, but I pay extra for that one for that peace of mind alone -- not just or even primarily that day, but for all the worrying and planning in advance, at such a busy time. I'd sooner have her serve chips & dip than try myself to serve much better food at such an important day.

Best wishes to you!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 4:44PM
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I did my reception myself, had great help setting up that morning and a close friend left the church with her hubby and 2 sons just as we kissed and set up for us
took stuff out of fridge and so on
we kept it simple, meatballs in crocks, sandwich platters, fruit, veggies, chips and dips, and a whole bunch of SAM"S appetizers that just had to be thawed, they have these roll up things that come 60 in a package, thaw and eat
its your day, tell everyone drinks and appetizers and they will eat a meal before hand
Congrats and good luck

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 10:56AM
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