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Food and Cakes

Reception food: family cooking v. caterer?

My fiance and I want a wedding reception without all the frills and thrills. We want something simple which doesn't require us to take out loans and which has a nice touch here or there, like a fun party favor, red velvet weding cake, etc. We had considered our favorite bar, where we met, but it can only hold 60 people and there's no way we can do less than 83 people. So we're considering other options. We're not you're typical bridal couple, however: my fiance has his dream wedding in mind and I've never given stuff like this much thought. So I'm pretty flexible and my fiance is pretty set with what he wants.  This includes having his cousin and aunt, who are professional chefs, cook for the reception.  I've never met them nor tried their food, and they'll be coming from another country.  My fiance wants to rent a big house by the shore for the reception and for our close family members to stay in.  I'm okay with renting the house but I would like to have the reception catered so we don't have to worry about finding a place big enough for his cousin and aunt to cook, buying/renting glassware and dishes, finding enough food, etc. Plus his cousin and aunt are coming to the US from another country, so I'm worried about whether something might happen with their flight and other uncertainties. I look upon having his family cook for the reception as adding a lot of stress and he looks upon it as a lifelong dream. I'm starting to be made out by him and his parents as the "bad guy" for not wanting things this way. He and I have talked about how I'm more flexible with what we do and he's more set in what he wants, but how this is supposed to be our wedding, which means he needs to compromise.  Any suggestions as to what we could do?

Re: Reception food: family cooking v. caterer?

  • I'd ask him if his aunt and cousin have volunteeered to cook for the reception and that it's rude to ask invited guests to work at your reception.  Cooking for 83 people can't be easily accomodated in a standard size kitchen.  I'd emphasize the logistics - you would need to order and prep food, have a serving set-up that will keep food an appropriate temperature, and rent all the dinner and glassware.  This is on top of the travel logistics - and the slight (hopefully) possibility that you would be without a caterer if something happened to their arrangements.

    Maybe you could find a caterer that could use family recipes for your reception meal.  Or maybe the aunt and cousin would feel more comfortable cooking a smaller family meal during their stay.  But mostly, I'd emphasize that unless the aunt and cousin have offered to cook, it would be rude to ask them to work.

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  • Just the logistics alone make this impracticle.  Professional chefs need a lot of equipment and a professional kitchen to cook for a crowd like that.  I think he is most likely caught up in this idea and not realizing what he is asking.

    Would he really expect these people to pay to come to this country, spend all of their time prepping and cooking instead of visiting with family they rarely see?  If he is serious and even if the logistics are figured out, FI needs to pay them as professional chefs and pay all of their expenses since he is viewing them as vendors.

    Please convince him that this in no only logistically impossible, it would be the height of rudeness.  Good luck.
  • lawgrl13lawgrl13 member
    First Comment
    edited July 2012
    By all acounts his cousin and aunt would be happy to do the cooking.  I'm concerned more about the sheer logistics.  I don't want to spend a lot of money on the reception but I am more willing to spend a little money to have it catered - whether buffet or seated - which comes with plates, glassware, tables, chairs, etc. (which presumably means less risks and stress) than to save money by having family cook, search for adequate facilities, and buy/rent all the silverware, glassware, tables, chairs, and find all the food, etc. (which presumably leads to more risks and stress).  His parents are super on-board with the idea of the cousin and aunt cooking, which doesn't make things easier for me.  My parents think we should cater it and have offered to provide us with some money to help us out.  My fiance still wants his cousin and aunt to cook though....
  • edited July 2012
    For someone whose SN is "lawgrl" I am really surprised that you are even considering this given the liability risk that you would be taking by serving food not prepared by professional caterers (who carry big liability insurance coverage policies in case someone does become ill from the food).

    ETA - Do his relatives who would be cooking carry their own insurance.  I just saw that you said they are professional chefs.

    ETAA - nevermind.  I need to read more closely.  Just saw that they are in another country.  I doubt any insurance they have would cover your wedding.
    Proud to be an old married hag!! image
  • Lol, my fiance is also in the legal industry and it's his idea!  I don't know whether they carry insurance or whether it applies to events outside their home country....
  • What does by all accounts mean?  Have they volunteered to do this or were they asked?  I'm sorry but for the money the are spending just to attend  your wedding, I wouldn't let them do it.  I'd want them to visit with family and friends and pay for a caterer.  sounds like you have your hands full with your FI and FILs.
  • Family cooking = bad idea:
    - you haven't found the house to rent where the reception would be
    - due to above, you have no idea whether it has a caterer's kitchen with facilities to cook and store food for 83 people, and keep it at the appropriate temperatures
    - You will have to divulge to the parties you are renting the house from what is happening. They will need to have the appropriate insurance in place, and may not rent considering the circumstances.
    -Most people renting houses on the shore charge by the week, not for a few days. Depending on the area, it's going to be $1500-$3000 for the week, whether you need it for a week or not
    - How soon would the family from out of the country be here before your wedding? It would take at least a week to find the ingredients, the appropriate rentals (chafing dishes, serving pieces, etc)
    - Hiring family means that friends or family do the cleanup. Even if you rent plates, glasses & utensils, someone has to clean it before the rental company will pick it up
    - Are there language barriers? This can be critical when planning a menu
    - Do they make food that YOUR family will like? I'm Polish, and while I love most of the cultural dishes my grandma used to make, I doubt my fiance's family would have loved it.

    Caterer= good idea:

    - Caterers have all the requisite insurance, and even if you find the house to rent, will bring everything there and do all the prep (if they even accept the job in the first place since you don't even have the mentioned house rented yet).
    - Caterers can supply all the items needed. We had an almost "bare bones" reception venue, the only thing they supplied was the venue, tables & chairs & dance floor. We rented everything else. I looked into using individual vendors, and went with having the caterer supply these items because they WILL clean everything before they leave, they had the servers in place to replenish food items as they were depleted in the chafing dishes, and are pros. Even if your fiance's family are pros, are they pros at wedding food prep?

    If cost is an issue, it sounds as though your parents are willing to assist.

    To be honest, as an outsider, this sounds like a "cultural war", where your fiance & his family have a set idea of what a "wedding" is, and while you are very flexible, you and your family sound as though they have a different idea of what a wedding is. It is possible to compromise, so I'd recommend the following:

    - Hire a caterer for the bulk of the food, and have the aunt & cousin chefs make one special dish
    - If you can't get your fiance to agree to this, then have the family chefs send the recipes (hopefully it's not "a dash of this, a handful of that") and have a caterer do the meal. This will eliminate the language barrier as well as the issues of insurance, the family having to work instead of enjoying the wedding, etc.
    - If the cousin & aunt are willing, on the day the food is being prepped by the chefs, they can attend the food prep if the caterer will agree.

    Good luck dear. I am also a very flexible person, but there was no way I would not have had significant input on my wedding, nor abdicated it to others.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_reception-family-cooking-v-caterer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:23Discussion:55945826-63ae-483e-862d-fddcb6866586Post:dca65a8b-a6fa-4805-ac12-d404ad8db834">Re: Reception food: family cooking v. caterer?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Lol, <strong>my fiance is also in the</strong> <strong>legal industry</strong> and it's his idea!  I don't know whether they carry insurance or whether it applies to events outside their home country....
    Posted by lawgrl13[/QUOTE]

    What does this mean exactly?  To me it means you two could be in the mail room at a firm.  Unless either of you is an attorney (and even if you are) run this idea past some of the liability attorneys at your firm and see what their responses are.

    Sue & Kevin gave a great rundown of why caterers are best.
    Proud to be an old married hag!! image
  • lawgrl13lawgrl13 member
    First Comment
    edited July 2012
    Sue-n-Kevin raises some good points.  I appreciate everyone's thoughtfulness - it helps to have a third-party sounding board, since I'd use my fiance and parents as a sounding board otherwise. 
  • lawgrl13lawgrl13 member
    First Comment
    edited July 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_reception-family-cooking-v-caterer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:55945826-63ae-483e-862d-fddcb6866586Post:eb7ea2b5-bf5a-41a4-9cb6-a3d0a7cd16de">Re: Reception food: family cooking v. caterer?</a>:
    [QUOTE]What does this mean exactly?  To me it means you two could be in the mail room at a firm.  Unless either of you is an attorney (and even if you are) run this idea past some of the liability attorneys at your firm and see what their responses are. Sue & Kevin gave a great rundown of why caterers are best.
    Posted by GoodLuckBear14[/QUOTE]


    We both work full-time and go to law school at night.  Our current jobs are related to the law too.
  • His aunt and cousin could always good for the rehearsal dinner (or if you aren't doing a rehearsal dinner, maybe jsut a nice supper the night before the wedding for immediate family).
  • What about having a caterer and then having the family make a couple of his favorite dishes?  Or Just tell him that if they are a no show he can go to mcdonalds and pic up burgers for 100.
  • Having family cooking might be a risk, stay within your budget but find a cater that can help you, we worked with Mimi and Ben and they were great to us, google them Mimi's Fusion of Flavors caterers

    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_reception-family-cooking-v-caterer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:55945826-63ae-483e-862d-fddcb6866586Post:6de4fead-2ac5-4cec-a847-20e8cd316d70">Reception food: family cooking v. caterer?</a>:
    [QUOTE]My fiance and I want a wedding reception without all the frills and thrills. We want something simple which doesn't require us to take out loans and which has a nice touch here or there, like a fun party favor, red velvet weding cake, etc. We had considered our favorite bar, where we met, but it can only hold 60 people and there's no way we can do less than 83 people. So we're considering other options. We're not you're typical bridal couple, however: my fiance has his dream wedding in mind and I've never given stuff like this much thought. So I'm pretty flexible and my fiance is pretty set with what he wants.  This includes having his cousin and aunt, who are professional chefs, cook for the reception.  I've never met them nor tried their food, and they'll be coming from another country.  My fiance wants to rent a big house by the shore for the reception and for our close family members to stay in.  I'm okay with renting the house but I would like to have the reception catered so we don't have to worry about finding a place big enough for his cousin and aunt to cook, buying/renting glassware and dishes, finding enough food, etc. Plus his cousin and aunt are coming to the US from another country, so I'm worried about whether something might happen with their flight and other uncertainties. I look upon having his family cook for the reception as adding a lot of stress and he looks upon it as a lifelong dream. I'm starting to be made out by him and his parents as the "bad guy" for not wanting things this way. He and I have talked about how I'm more flexible with what we do and he's more set in what he wants, but how this is supposed to be our wedding, which means he needs to compromise.  Any suggestions as to what we could do?
    Posted by lawgrl13[/QUOTE]
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