Wedding Reception Forum

Mmmmm!!! Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone! My fiancé and I are having a small diy wedding at the end of this year and for our reception dinner my family is helping me cook my absolutel favorite meal (Traditional “Black” Thanksgiving dinner. At least that was my plan. I am now looking at and weighing other options however. The options are this:

1) use the industrial kitchen to cook dinner the day before. However I would need to bring my own cooking ware, utensils, heating supplies for buffet, plus the cost of food

2) Find a restaurant to set up a thanksgiving buffet the day of. Problem with this is I don’t know that there are any restaurants near that really know how to cook a traditional black thanksgiving dinner and also price

3) considered hiring a local church (church food is the best) to cook the food for me but again, I’d have to pay for the labor plus the cost of food. Also....I don’t personally know anyone who goes to church eapecially with ppl that know how to cook lol

Re: Mmmmm!!! Thanksgiving!

  • I think option 1 is a bad idea. You will busy getting things ready for your wedding and won't have time to be cooking for your reception too. Add on the fact that you need to know how to prepare and keep food safe for a buffet. The last thing you want is people to get food poisoning because you didn't properly keep food at the correct temperature.

    I would hire caterers to prepare the food. Caterers know how to prepare serve and keep food a safe temperatures. Since I have no idea what a "black" thanksgiving is I can't help you with ideas for restaurants but surely you could find one that could cater the type of food you want.
    OurWildKingdom
  • I think option 1 is a bad idea. You will busy getting things ready for your wedding and won't have time to be cooking for your reception too. Add on the fact that you need to know how to prepare and keep food safe for a buffet. The last thing you want is people to get food poisoning because you didn't properly keep food at the correct temperature.

    I would hire caterers to prepare the food. Caterers know how to prepare serve and keep food a safe temperatures. Since I have no idea what a "black" thanksgiving is I can't help you with ideas for restaurants but surely you could find one that could cater the type of food you want.
    Thx for the suggestion! I would offer that preparing and keeping food at a safe temp is not an issue at all as my any food prepared would be prepared the day before the wedding and some the morning of and I think the industrial size fridge will be more than adequate to keep food safe. The issue does then become putting food out during the cocktail hour. I would have to get my mom to do it and I don’t know that I want to burden her with that
  • I like option 2 the best.  All three options involve spending money, but only option 2 puts cooking, setting up, serving, and cleaning up a meal in the hands of professionals.  There are ways to add DIY touches without family and friends having to work the wedding.
    short+sassySTARMOON44OurWildKingdom
  • short+sassyshort+sassy member
    10000 Comments Eighth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited February 2019

    I agree with the other PPs.  Hire a caterer.  Cooking, setting up, and tearing down is way, way too much work for either yourself and/or your family members to do.  Especially the day before and day of the wedding.  Caterers are used to serving large amounts of people and doing it safely.  Let them do what they do best.

    As for preparing dishes the way you want and/or particular dishes, I'd assume you can find a restaurant/caterer to do that.  I'd start off looking at mom/pop restaurants you like with a more "home cooking" kind of vibe.  Like the way people make food for a church potluck...but by people who are caterers and professional restauranteurs.

    Edited to add:

    I just noticed you said the wedding is small.  My own wedding was 35 people and we had it at my mom/stepdad's house.  We hired a local restaurant we liked to bring all the food items we wanted and they set it up in a buffet style and then left.  It was only about $15/person, not including beverages and some veggie/fruit trays we got at Costco or the cakes.  The price even included a "loan" of all the stuff to set up the buffet, like the little heaters and warming trays, which were then returned to the restaurant the next day.  My mom also contracted with her cleaning service to have two employees come at the end of the reception, to clean up and put all the food away.

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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Jumping on the "hire a caterer" bandwagon.

    There are simply some jobs at a wedding that need not to be DIY because they're too much work for the couple (and guests should not be asked to "work" at weddings). Catering is right at the top. 
  • edited February 2019
    Believe me I would LOVE to hire a caterer but I can’t seem to find any that make a full thanksgiving dinner :( I wonder, is it possible to cook food and hire someone to set it up and manage it the day of?
  • Believe me I would LOVE to hire a caterer but I can’t seem to find any that make a full thanksgiving dinner :( I wonder, is it possible to cook food and hire someone to set it up and manage it the day of?

    I've heard of employment agencies that specialize in providing employees for banquets and that kind of thing.  You'll probably pay more than hiring someone off a gig-type site, but a company should have more accountability and back-ups.  Plus, while not a complicated job, it would still be better to hire 1-2 people with experience and knowledge of food safety.  An employment agency will have already vetted their people for that (or should have).

    Also, look for personal/private chefs in your area.  I know a few people who make full and part-time incomes doing that.  It can be surprisingly affordable.  The upside is those are typically people who are very flexible and will make whatever dishes you want.

    I'd still look into getting at least some of the food items you want from a restaurant that could have it delivered or picked up.  Whatever you can get off your plate (pun intended) will be money well spent.  Think about how long it takes and how many people are involved to prepare a Thanksgiving spread, just for family?  And now multiple that by the amount of people that are invited to the wedding.  I suspect this will be a much bigger, more expensive, and more time-consuming endeavor than you are thinking it will be.  Even for a smaller wedding.

    Think outside the box and don't be afraid to speak to a restaurant(s) about preparing a bulk quantity of A, B, or C if you think it would be in their wheelhouse.  Even if they don't advertise catering.  People who have food trucks...not that they'll bring the truck, but bring their cooking skills.

    For example, there is a mom/pop fried chicken place that is walking distance to my house.  Walk-up counter.  No seating.  As casual as it can be.  But make no mistake, it is delicious food.  They fry turkeys year round and carry a lot of sides, including Thanksgiving ones.  And it's just some random place I know about because I live near it.  Granted, I live in a medium-sized foodie city (New Orleans).  But, with a little searching, I'm pretty sure I could find reasonably priced bulk quantities of almost whatever dish I wanted.  Perhaps that would work for you also, even if you (or someone you hire) have to go to more than one place to collect them all.

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  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    Believe me I would LOVE to hire a caterer but I can’t seem to find any that make a full thanksgiving dinner :( I wonder, is it possible to cook food and hire someone to set it up and manage it the day of?

    I've heard of employment agencies that specialize in providing employees for banquets and that kind of thing.  You'll probably pay more than hiring someone off a gig-type site, but a company should have more accountability and back-ups.  Plus, while not a complicated job, it would still be better to hire 1-2 people with experience and knowledge of food safety.  An employment agency will have already vetted their people for that (or should have).

    Also, look for personal/private chefs in your area.  I know a few people who make full and part-time incomes doing that.  It can be surprisingly affordable.  The upside is those are typically people who are very flexible and will make whatever dishes you want.

    I'd still look into getting at least some of the food items you want from a restaurant that could have it delivered or picked up.  Whatever you can get off your plate (pun intended) will be money well spent.  Think about how long it takes and how many people are involved to prepare a Thanksgiving spread, just for family?  And now multiple that by the amount of people that are invited to the wedding.  I suspect this will be a much bigger, more expensive, and more time-consuming endeavor than you are thinking it will be.  Even for a smaller wedding.

    Think outside the box and don't be afraid to speak to a restaurant(s) about preparing a bulk quantity of A, B, or C if you think it would be in their wheelhouse.  Even if they don't advertise catering.  People who have food trucks...not that they'll bring the truck, but bring their cooking skills.

    For example, there is a mom/pop fried chicken place that is walking distance to my house.  Walk-up counter.  No seating.  As casual as it can be.  But make no mistake, it is delicious food.  They fry turkeys year round and carry a lot of sides, including Thanksgiving ones.  And it's just some random place I know about because I live near it.  Granted, I live in a medium-sized foodie city (New Orleans).  But, with a little searching, I'm pretty sure I could find reasonably priced bulk quantities of almost whatever dish I wanted.  Perhaps that would work for you also, even if you (or someone you hire) have to go to more than one place to collect them all.

    All great ideas here.
  • Option 2. Seriously. Call in the pros for your wedding and save yourself and your family the trouble. Start looking for caterers/restaurants now. You could google black-owned businesses in your area, but don't rule out other businesses as long as you are clear on the dishes you want. Lots of non-black folks are familiar with dishes traditionally served at a black thanksgiving.

    If there are certain family favorites, you could supplement with those, but leave the bulk of the cooking to the pros and really enjoy your day.

    A long time ago, a friend of mine did a DIY wedding in a beautiful mansion where she lived as a grad student. (It was female-only grad student housing, but you could rent it out for special events.) We all brought food to help her out, but she didn't want to make her guests clean up, so she and her new husband were up all night cleaning the place. It sucked.
    OurWildKingdom
  • Believe me I would LOVE to hire a caterer but I can’t seem to find any that make a full thanksgiving dinner :( I wonder, is it possible to cook food and hire someone to set it up and manage it the day of?
    What kind of places have you called? I was able to pick almost anything from our catering company. Is there a particular dish that they haven’t been able to make? Or are you just going off a sample menu? is your wedding actually around thanksgiving or are you just having the food but at a different time? In my area, there are loads of places that will cook a whole meal and have it delivered to you house around Thanksgiving. Idk how many people you are having but maybe look for places that have done this in the past. 
    OurWildKingdomcharlotte989875
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited February 2019
    Also on the hire a caterer band wagon. Are you just looking at sample menus they've posted online, or are you actually calling places to see if they make the specific dishes you're looking for?

    Also, check out grocery store catering. My local Publix makes an awesome Thanksgiving spread with all the trimmings. (Still no idea what you mean by black thanksgiving). They could do the dishes, and then like S&S suggested, you just hire staff to take care of the buffet. 
    Grocery store catering is an excellent idea. You’d be surprised what they can come up with. 

    Something I’ve learned in my wedding planning experience is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The second time we were planning, we wanted to do a brunch. We reached out to a couple of local restaurants, and one of them came up with an excellent menu for us. 

    If you live in a decent-size area, finding a black-owned catering company or restaurant shouldn’t be too difficult. Ask them what they can come up with.

    As for staff, if the catering company doesn’t provide their own, ask hospitality departments at local colleges. Students are always looking for experience. Obviously you’ll have to pay them, but it might not be as much as you would a traditional caterer.

    ETA:  A Thanksgiving dinner reception sounds awesome. 
    ShesSoColdMesmrEwe
  • Hire the caterer!  One thing a lot of people forget is what is the cost value of people's time and you're paying full price for the ingredients/warmers/etc. vs. a caterer who is going to make it so you and your guests can enjoy the day and days leading up to the wedding relaxed.  Expand your search when it comes to the caterers into the specific foods, check with some of your favorite restaurants, a LOT will do food for events at a reasonable rate if you ask!  Until you ask, the answer is no.  

    The other reasons why - food safety!  They're going to prepare your meal so hot food is hot, cold is cold, and their butts are on the line if anyone gets a food borne illness!  Next, dollar for dollar you're money and time ahead.  Unless the event is in your home most venues will not allow you to bring in DIY food for the above reasons.  
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  • Believe me I would LOVE to hire a caterer but I can’t seem to find any that make a full thanksgiving dinner :( I wonder, is it possible to cook food and hire someone to set it up and manage it the day of?
    I'm honestly shocked about that, a lot of people I know don't even cook their own thanksgiving dinners, they have it catered. And it's always standard thanksgiving dinner food.

    Really, keep looking for a caterer, you do not want to deal with this yourself, both with the time/effort required and the liability when it comes to food safety.
    OurWildKingdom
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