Budget Weddings Forum

Instead of a traditional caterer.. "family cooked" wedding?

julesndeanjulesndean member
First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment
edited September 2014 in Budget Weddings Forum
My fiance and I are paying for the wedding ourselves, and we're broke. My entire family (whom I am close with) all live 10 hours away, so the venue we are looking at has farm houses and cottages that would be at our disposal all weekend to accommodate my family so they wouldnt need to worry about a hotel. Since we are expecting about 200 to attend, the catering bill would be huge. So, we were considering having a potluck wedding? We would buy the main dish (chicken, fish, w/e) and anyone who would like to bring a side dish instead of a card/gift/$ is welcome to. My mom and sister think it's tacky and unaccetable, but my fiance's cousins say that it is a great idea and his side of the family would love to help. A potluck wedding isnt my ideal situation, but hey, at least we know all the food would be good. My mom and sister suggested we do a friday appetizer and cocktail wedding or a sunday brunch because they are cheaper, but I dont want to do that because NONE of my family would come.. and it's really important to me that at least some of them be there. I don't want to be surrounded by my fiance's family on my wedding day and all of them question where my people are.. plus that would make me feel really shitty to not have anyone there anyway. So, what do you think? Is the potluck tacky or acceptable?
JUST TO CLARIFY: No, we will not be asking EVERYONE to bring something, just a few local family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) who have a dish they have been cooking for every event to make it for our wedding and we would be buying the groceries. The farm will accommodate MY out of town family for the whole weekend, which is about 40 people. Fiance and I will be purchasing drinks, dessert and (since my fiance is a chef who previously owned his own catering company) will be preparing the main course and appetizers. He doesnt want to cook all of the food because it;s only him and he wants to enjoy his wedding. So, after further explaining the situation, is it still as tacky as an actual "potluck" wedding?
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Re: Instead of a traditional caterer.. "family cooked" wedding?

  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    My fiance and I are paying for the wedding ourselves, and we're broke. My entire family (whom I am close with) all live 10 hours away, so the venue we are looking at has farm houses and cottages that would be at our disposal all weekend to accommodate my family so they wouldnt need to worry about a hotel. Since we are expecting about 200 to attend, the catering bill would be huge. So, we were considering having a potluck wedding? We would buy the main dish (chicken, fish, w/e) and anyone who would like to bring a side dish instead of a card/gift/$ is welcome to. My mom and sister think it's tacky and unaccetable, but my fiance's cousins say that it is a great idea and his side of the family would love to help. A potluck wedding isnt my ideal situation, but hey, at least we know all the food would be good. My mom and sister suggested we do a friday appetizer and cocktail wedding or a sunday brunch because they are cheaper, but I dont want to do that because NONE of my family would come.. and it's really important to me that at least some of them be there. I don't want to be surrounded by my fiance's family on my wedding day and all of them question where my people are.. plus that would make me feel really shitty to not have anyone there anyway. So, what do you think? Is the potluck tacky or acceptable?

    Your mom and sister are right. How about a keg, hot dogs, baked beans, and coleslaw? At least you'd be feeding them.
    atlastmrsg[Deleted User]
  • Well we planned on paying for the main dish, appetizers, drinks and desserts ourselves. We would only be asking a few people on his side who live in the area to make a side dish if they would like to (they have dishes that they make for every function that are always delicious), we're not putting it on the invitation (because I think that is tacky). Catering is expensive and honestly the food is usually shitty. I dont know, I feel like there would be a way to do it that it wouldn't be tacky, but nobody can get passed that fact that I dont want to pay $3000 for really terrible food.
  • Is it still tacky if we offer to pay for the groceries they need in order to make it? So i guess it's less of a potluck and more of a "family cooked meal"? 
  • We were planning on asking just a few members of my fiance's family to make the dish they are known for and we would offer to buy the groceries needed to make the food. The option would not be going on the invitation. The farm can accommodate MY out of state family, which is only 40 people. We would be purchasing (or cooking ourselves) the main dish, desserts and providing the drinks. The 200 that would be attending are 97% family, who we see and talk to regularly and are close with.
    I'm fairly certain that everyone is assuming that I'm writing on a Walmart receipt and slipping into invites (hey there family, make some food and bring it on down to our weddin'). That is not the case. I guess i just dont understand why having a professional shitty caterer is more acceptable than a few homemade dishes from people in the family who cook and wanted to help. 
    Weddings are supposed to be fun and a happy occasion among family and good friends, not a HUGE financial burden causing anxiety. 
    Is it still rude?
  • chibiyuichibiyui The Boring Part of MD member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I'm sorry, nobody wants to attend a 200 person potluck of any kind. There are some very affordable caterers to be had. Have you looked into an Italian restaurant, or grocery store catering? Trays of cold cuts and some pasta can be very filling and affordable.
    image



    Anniversary
    atlastmrsg[Deleted User]Fosmoh
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Your mom and sister are right. This is a tacky idea.

    Also, you say your family lives 10 hours way. So they'd have to travel to your wedding and then cook all the food?

    atlastmrsgjnrsgirl[Deleted User]
  • You can have a lovely wedding with a proper reception.  Have your ceremony at 2:00 PM, followed by a traditional sandwiches, cake and punch reception.  Most people were married like this before the 1970's, when the wedding industry really took off.  You can buy plates of sandwiches at Costco or the grocery store.  The cake can be a decorated sheet cake that does NOT cost hundreds of dollars.

    My sister was married in a city park shelter.  They had a pig roast (FOG was a farmer) with potato salad and coleslaw from the grocery store.  Beer and sodas in a cooler for drinks.  It was a fantastic wedding.

    What you should NOT have is a wedding for 200 people.  There is no excuse for that big of a guest list if you are on a strict budget.  Cut your guest list.  Pot luck, or asking your guests to fund your wedding in any way, is completely rude and unacceptable.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    atlastmrsg[Deleted User]
  • esstee33esstee33 Pittsburgh member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Oh, honestly. No matter how you try to reword your question, the answer remains the same. It's rude as hell to ask your guests to help cater the party you're throwing FOR THEM. Nobody was rude to you at all. You were sure rude as hell to the PPs trying to help you, though.

    If you don't think you can find catering up to your standards within your budget, you need to adjust your guest list or host cake and punch or appetizers at a non meal time.
    jnrsgirl[Deleted User]Fosmoh
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    It's never appropriate to defer costs to your guests. Than includes asking people to make their own food. Or even worse only the local ones. Now if some of your close family and friends OFFER, by all means, take them up on their offer.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    cupcait927jnrsgirlFosmoh
  • Please don't do a pot luck wedding. There is nothing wrong at all with a casual, afternoon cookout affair among family and friends... in fact, that sounds like a blast!

    Also, 200 people is a lot of people. I know it may seem unthinkable now o not have any of those people there, but do you really need to invite all 200 of them? Our first list was upwards of 150, but it was quickly cut down to 70 one we looked at our potential costs. Our vision changed slightly too, because we were more concerned about hosting our close family members and friends than we were having a particular venue, but that was our decision.

    My advice is to sit down with your fiance and really determine the following:

    1) What can we afford to host (budget)?
    2) Who do we want to host (guest list)?
    3) What do we want to host (vision)?

    Each factor flows into the other. You can have a beautiful wedding that properly hosts your guests without spending a fortune, and we are simply trying to help you do that. 

    aleighbaker
  • KahlylaKahlyla Moncton, NB member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper
    Aside from all the issues that PPs have touched on, there is also the issue of food safety and hygiene - not to mention logistics. How are all these people - who don't live locally - going to prepare this food and then keep it all temperature-controlled? Do they each need to prepare enough of their dish to feed 200 people a portion? That's a lot more food than the one dish they typically prepare for a get-together. You're talking about multiple casserole dishes or trays that each of these people will somehow need to prepare and wrangle.

    I really think it will be very affordable - and much simpler and safer - to get some pasta dishes, salads, and trays of roasted chicken or pulled pork or similar from a simple Italian or BBQ restaurant or a grocery store caterer. You can supplement with whatever dishes you wish to cook yourselves if you really want to go that route. But you can definitely get nice prepared food affordably and safely, without putting any of the hassle onto guests.
    image
    atlastmrsgjnrsgirl[Deleted User]Fosmoh
  • beetherybeethery So sayeth the fuckin' Pope. member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    I understand that I posted this asking for advice, but isn't there a way to make it not tacky? My fiance is a chef, but he wants to enjoy our wedding, would it be unacceptable if he cooked all of the food? Does it make it ok that he is professionally trained and previously owned his own catering company? I can't pay for my families plan tickets or gas to get here, but helping with accommodations is more than necessary. Asking 4 or 5 people who have been cooking since WWII to help us by just cooking side dishes that they have been making forever doesnt exactly seem like the most tacky deal. I just feel like the term "potluck" turns people off... but I guess with the way we were planning on doing, it's not exactly your usual "potluck".
    Sorry about it, but after reading other posts on other discussions, some of you sweet, blushing brides are very rude. You're entitled to your opinions, but you dont have to make people feel shitty because daddy isnt throwing down $50,000 for a wedding.
    Lol bye. FI and I only made wedding plans that we could afford to pay for ourselves, and we have no intention in asking for help doing anything, least of all having anyone besides a caterer make food for the event.

    My mom has surprised us by paying for things here and there, and his parents offered to supply the alcohol for the reception. But, like I said, we only planned what we could afford, whether or not anyone chipped in.

    Plan what you can pay for, and if you can't afford to feed guests, you need to cut your guest list down or make your hosting the priority over other things like decorations or really anything else besides what will make you officially married.

    $50,000.00. Please. You can properly host at most costs, you just have to adjust your plans.
    --

    I'm the fuck out.

    image
    CMGragainperdonami
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited September 2014
    I understand that I posted this asking for advice, but isn't there a way to make it not tacky? My fiance is a chef, but he wants to enjoy our wedding, would it be unacceptable if he cooked all of the food? Does it make it ok that he is professionally trained and previously owned his own catering company? I can't pay for my families plan tickets or gas to get here, but helping with accommodations is more than necessary. Asking 4 or 5 people who have been cooking since WWII to help us by just cooking side dishes that they have been making forever doesnt exactly seem like the most tacky deal. I just feel like the term "potluck" turns people off... but I guess with the way we were planning on doing, it's not exactly your usual "potluck".
    Sorry about it, but after reading other posts on other discussions, some of you sweet, blushing brides are very rude. You're entitled to your opinions, but you dont have to make people feel shitty because daddy isnt throwing down $50,000 for a wedding.
    I missed this before.  My DH is a chef also.  He has zero desire to cook his own food because he knows what goes into catering.      

    Since he is in the business he must know people who will work for cheap to assist him in not only prepping, but serving the food.  Of course you would pay them, but it would be a lot less than a full service caterer.      My DH knows plenty of dishwashers and prep cooks who would love to make a few extra bucks to help out someone else in the business.

    The days leading up to the wedding your FI can prep, then the day of let the others take over so he can enjoy himself.


    ETA - DH's BF got married.  DH was in the wedding.   They asked for DH's help, but did not want him to work on the wedding day.  DH created the menu, bought (with BF's money) all the food at cost.   DH was able to get some of his guys to help prep a few days out and work the wedding.  The morning of the wedding DH checked in on the guys.  

    It worked out great.   BF saved a lot of money, but DH was able to enjoy himself the day of.   






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    Liatris2010cupcait927Fosmoh
  • Super tacky. Why couldn't you have a Sunday brunch? Is the issue that none of your close family will travel 10 hours to see you? Could you have Sunday brunch in a location near them?
  • 200 people is a lot to cook for,  and I can't remember which board it was on but I'm pretty sure I remember seeing someone got food poisoning from a potluck wedding.  PP had some great reccomendations on where to get inexpensive catering (grocery store/Italian/cake and punch reception)  it's probably your best bet to avoid the potluck.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited September 2014
    Sigh.  OK, I'll post this again.  Here is how you plan a wedding:

    1.  Determine your budget.  This is what you can spend on your entire wedding.
    2.  Write up a complete guest list.  Be prepared to make some cuts.
    3.  If you are Catholic, talk to the priest immediately and find out what you need to do to be married in the church.
    4.  Looking at #1 and 2, decide what you will be able to afford to feed all these people.  Cake and punch with tea sandwiches?  Brunch?  If you are on a tight budget, you have no business even thinking about a full dinner reception.  This costs twice what a brunch reception costs!
    5.  NOW you can think about venues and caterers.  Do not choose one that cannot satisfy all the requirements above.  If you are Catholic, and must have a morning ceremony, this means that you can't have a dinner reception because it would be rude to your guests.

    Are you guilty of holding on to a childhood vision of your wedding?  Many posters here have told you how you can have a beautiful wedding without going into debt, and you have been contemptuous of their suggestions, even calling us rude.  You need to rethink this.
    You have planned your wedding backwards.   You started with your vision, added in your guest list, and now you are trying to figure out how you can make it happen with not enough money.  That is the definition of "tacky".

    200 guests?!!!  I think I had 50 at my wedding!

    It is acceptable to use family members as workers in your wedding IF YOU PAY THEM!  You must pay them the same amount they would get from any other job.  They should agree to the terms in writing to avoid misunderstandings and drama.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    esstee33KatieinBklnjnrsgirl
  • Thank you all for your advice.
    esstee33Fosmoh
  • I have a small budget for my wedding. We dont have a real caterer but a friend in the process of starting a catering company. Find someone like that!
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I have a small budget for my wedding. We dont have a real caterer but a friend in the process of starting a catering company. Find someone like that!



    BOX 
    Just a word of advice - be wary of hiring a friend. Make sure you have a very clear contract. 

    wandajune6southernbelle0915chibiyui
  • I understand that I posted this asking for advice, but isn't there a way to make it not tacky? My fiance is a chef, but he wants to enjoy our wedding, would it be unacceptable if he cooked all of the food? Does it make it ok that he is professionally trained and previously owned his own catering company? I can't pay for my families plan tickets or gas to get here, but helping with accommodations is more than necessary. Asking 4 or 5 people who have been cooking since WWII to help us by just cooking side dishes that they have been making forever doesnt exactly seem like the most tacky deal. I just feel like the term "potluck" turns people off... but I guess with the way we were planning on doing, it's not exactly your usual "potluck".
    Sorry about it, but after reading other posts on other discussions, some of you sweet, blushing brides are very rude. You're entitled to your opinions, but you dont have to make people feel shitty because daddy isnt throwing down $50,000 for a wedding.
    I agree with this so much... sad really that so many think that it's OK to bash each other in the name of "etiquette". How about using manners and tact to tell someone when you don't agree rather than proclaiming the "horror!!!" of an idea. I thought this was the budget board... Anyway, although I am greatly in the minority, I do not see this idea as inherently rude. If you were asking those who did not or could not help then that would be one thing. If it was made as a requisite of attending, that would be one thing. If you have spoken to the people who offered to help already then that's a whole other story! No one has to know WHO made the food, it can be tastefully displayed and served and then who's the wiser? 
  • I understand that I posted this asking for advice, but isn't there a way to make it not tacky? My fiance is a chef, but he wants to enjoy our wedding, would it be unacceptable if he cooked all of the food? Does it make it ok that he is professionally trained and previously owned his own catering company? I can't pay for my families plan tickets or gas to get here, but helping with accommodations is more than necessary. Asking 4 or 5 people who have been cooking since WWII to help us by just cooking side dishes that they have been making forever doesnt exactly seem like the most tacky deal. I just feel like the term "potluck" turns people off... but I guess with the way we were planning on doing, it's not exactly your usual "potluck".
    Sorry about it, but after reading other posts on other discussions, some of you sweet, blushing brides are very rude. You're entitled to your opinions, but you dont have to make people feel shitty because daddy isnt throwing down $50,000 for a wedding.
    I agree with this so much... sad really that so many think that it's OK to bash each other in the name of "etiquette". How about using manners and tact to tell someone when you don't agree rather than proclaiming the "horror!!!" of an idea. I thought this was the budget board... Anyway, although I am greatly in the minority, I do not see this idea as inherently rude. If you were asking those who did not or could not help then that would be one thing. If it was made as a requisite of attending, that would be one thing. If you have spoken to the people who offered to help already then that's a whole other story! No one has to know WHO made the food, it can be tastefully displayed and served and then who's the wiser? 
    People aren't trying to make anyone feel "shitty" they're trying to stop her from making a huge mistake and offending people. My daddy didn't give me $50000 for my wedding. Actually, he didn't even give me $5. Magically, we still managed to feed 150 people a delicious dinner.
    atlastmrsgjnrsgirlchibiyui[Deleted User]
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