Your Wedding, Your Way Pt. 1: Successful Self-Catering

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Your Wedding, Your Way


Image: “On The Wedding Table” by contact7 – sxc.hu

How do you all feel about the upcoming Royal nuptials? Bored? Annoyed? Giddy?

The range of sentiments in my Twitter feed have definitely skewed towards sophisticatedly cynical, intellectually jaded and openly hostile. Unfortunately, if this describes you, you’re not going to find any of that sentiment here. I guess my own inner romantic prevents me from having any withering retorts or acerbic asides where the event is concerned. If anything, like most wedding-related affairs that flicker across my screen with regularity (thank you reality TV), the media coverage only shifts my thoughts towards my own unknown/maybe one day/who really knows “big day”.

I’ve never particularly craved a large wedding or lavish ceremony, although I’d probably like something slightly more celebratory than my parents’ own perfunctory Red House civil service. In my ideal world it would be a day (or evening) of a few close friends, good food, and good music. This idea (especially the emphasis on small) strikes many as off when I explain it, but in going through my treasured 1960 edition of Emily Post’s “Etiquette: Blue Book Of Social Usage” (snagged as a young teen when my high school library was getting rid of old stock), my ideas are more retro than revolutionary. Believe it or not, back then Post described the “typically perfect” wedding as one that seated 50-100 guests!

One of the reasons I enjoy the concept of a smaller gathering is because of the financial flexibility it allows for greater personalisation. The services and receptions I have attended that really stand out in my mind invariably were those where the bride and groom tailored the day to reflect their distinct preferences and personalities (one mountaintop handfasting ceremony in Massachusetts, immediately comes to mind).

Locally, I am seeing more and more young budget-conscious couples opting to direct the monies that would have gone into a lavish wedding and reception towards the downpayment on their home, or other more practical long-term goals. In such cases a parental home, or the home of a trusted neighbour, friend or relative (basically the one with the largest backyard) becomes the reception venue. Indeed, on occasion my childhood home played host to such festivities and there is something truly deeply personal about incorporating locations important to one’s own story that becomes part of the overall memory later on.

And, speaking of memories, what about the food? I am sure that you and I would both agree that wedding food is often hit or miss. And, though the focus of the day is the happy couple, a beautiful, delicious spread does much to relax and enhance the overall joy experienced by all. The fact that this is sometimes less successfully executed is often the fault (in my mind) of location-based package deals that prioritize the business’s profit over true culinary pride. One can hardly blame budget-minded couples, often already over stretched at this point for making compromises.

Some couples though, not willing to compromise, and knowing that a caterer of their standards would not be financially practical have opted to self-cater their own wedding receptions.

I can imagine at this point many of you may be wrinkling your brows in a mixture of shock and wariness. Surely, one can’t expect an imminent bride to be standing over a stove with a spatula on her wedding day? Doesn’t she have enough to oversee? And you’re right! For many self-catering means not only greater control over the wedding budget, it also means creating the custom menu of their desires. It also doesn’t mean getting one’s own hands dirty. Instead, the savvy self-catering bride has an army of well-meaning assortment of friends, family and independent culinary professionals ready and willing to follow her template of demands. The results, many have attested have been quite outstanding, and speaking for myself I know that those weddings where family and community prepared and offered the bulk of the fare have consistently been some of the most enjoyable to me both in flavour and spirit.

Self-catering may not always be desirable or practical but if it is an idea you find appealing, or currently have under consideration, here are a few links to some online resources that really stood out!

Save Money: Cater Your Own Wedding (Forkable)
Do It Yourself Wedding Catering (TWIS Weddings)
Self Catering Your Wedding or Event: The Steps Before the First Step
Cater Your Own Wedding: Easy Ways to Do It Yourself in Style (Book)
The Wedding Catering Cookbook (Nitty Gritty Cookbooks)(Book)
How To Cater Your Own Wedding Reception (Book & DVD)

Whether you are wholly overseeing the affair, or handing out the nitty-gritty to a sea of carefully chosen helpers everyone’s first question will be “What’s The Menu?”. Over the next few days I’ll be sharing some of my own ideas. Stay tuned!


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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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