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Food and Cakes

Catering-Back to Square One--XP

I hope this posts because TK is being super-weird on my computer. 

So, I know I asked for opinions on the menu from the caterer a week or so ago, and now everything's in limbo again. 

First off, our guest list has boomed from 150 to 250, and while my mother is convinced everyone won't attend, I'm not going to take that bet. Which means that the caterer probably wouldn't be too happy because the whole reason he took our wedding, during one of the most busy weeks of his year, is that there were probably going to be around 100 there. Too much over 150 and he was not going to do it (this is when I had told him the original numbers).

Of course, that might not matter anyway, because when my mom called my aunt today to get some more addresses, my aunt acted like my mom and I had already known that my aunts (there are 4) were planning on doing all of the food and drink prep already. She basically told my mom that "unless they--meaning me and FI--wanted to spend a ton of money" that they were already in planning mode for it. For them, 100 people is Christmas dinner, and they do weddings and funerals and church socials every weekend, so I know they know what they're doing. They're ready for me to give them menu ideas. What sucks about this is that I saw all of them several times before I met with caterers while I was in MS, and while they all said they'd help, I didn't think "help" meant do all the food, I thought it meant help with table decor or something. 

However. Without the caterer I wouldn't have anyone set to be there to open up the reception venue or make sure chairs got set up and make sure the tables were done unless the family did it either the night before (we have the venue all weekend and the rehearsal dinner will be there) or showed up really early the day of. I don't want my mom to be losing her mind the day of the wedding. So, I might have to spend the money anyway to hire a DOC for the reception. I also wouldn't have anyone to pack up the food except the aunts, none of whom was planning to stay the night of the wedding in town (they live an hour and a half away). I was thinking they would cut out kind of early and that our friends would want to stay until later, but that would mean making sure that at least some of the family could stay and clean up. Argh. 

In ways, I'd love my aunts to do it. I'd know everyone would eat the food and we'd have plenty. It would save us a ton of money, especially if we had more RSVPs than my mom thinks we will. But I don't know if it's worth the hassle. My mom seems to think her job on the wedding day is to stress out over everything so I don't have to, but if she is she won't be able to hide it well and she'll snap at me and I'll snap back (just picturing it in my head).

I'm now thinking of all we could do with the leftover money without a caterer, and it's tempting. What would you guys do?

CN: My aunts had apparently already decided that they were doing food for my wedding and were surprised I had talked to a caterer, which they think is a waste of money. Should I stick with the caterer or let my aunts do it?

Re: Catering-Back to Square One--XP

  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I would go with the caterer.  It will cost you, sure, but it sounds like it might cost you just as much to hire a DOC and staff to set up and take down everything.  Can you use the "I really want you all to just enjoy being my guests" line on them? 
  • egm900egm900 member
    Yes, you need to be able to accommodate everyone that is invited, and a hundred extra people is a lot, even for a caterer.  Can you find another caterer if yours cancels?  Because if your aunts cater it, you're right, you will need a DOC and maybe even someone to clean up afterwards.  I would price it both ways, if you are okay with your aunts catering the event.  If you would rather them not, I would go with PP, say you want them to be able to enjoy the celebration.
  • It doesn't sound like your original catering choice is going to work, so let it go.

    I'm confused how your wedding guest list could "boom" from 150 to 250. Who has determined the guest list? Usually it's the bride and groom with some input from the family, but you make the "cuts", who is in or out. Of course, this is based on the costs being paid 100% by the bride & groom, not sure who is paying for all the extra guests in your list.

    Nearly every post I have seen on the Knot says family & friends should NOT be required to prepare the food for the guests, they won't have fun, and they would be busy all day. They stop being "guests" and become "workers". However, it sounds like in your family this is acceptable, and has been generously, almost decidedly offered.

    If you are comfortable with your aunts preparing your wedding meal for up to 250 guests, then by all means allow them to do this. However, you can run into all sorts of issues depending on your reception venue, which you haven't mentioned in this post. Is it a hall? Someone's backyard? You will need a place that has at least a good sized kitchen where the foods can be kept at the right temperature, whether hot or cold. Ovens, refrigerators, a place to store the replenishments when the chafing dishes already placed out have been emptied. And you need staff to set up, clean up, replenish, and shut down the food service, as well as clean up the dishes, glasses, utensils. Those are all things that caterers do.

    My recommendation, if you are going ahead with the aunts doing the food is to hire a DOC, and you will probably need one with a lot of patience who is willing to deal with family members as one of your "vendors", and someone with connections to a caterer who is willing to just do the items the aunts can't, mentioned above. It should also be someone who is familiar with the requirements from a local or city licensing perspective for food service and alcohol, if you are having that. Your option for all the things I mentioned regarding the food & clean up might be a local community college that has a foodservice or hospitality program, where you can hire students who are familiar with the proper service and cleanup of large events, but you'd be paying them to remove this duty from family members. So you would have the cost of the DOC and the students to add into whatever you are being charged by the aunts. Your local board may have some suggestions.

    None of this includes the costs, set up and removal of tables, linens, chairs, the things that can be secured by a full service caterer.
    You have a lot to think about, and without knowing anything about your venue, it's difficult to provide more specific answers.

    Good luck.
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