FI and I are planning a fairly casual garden wedding with outdoor reception. It's super important to us that the food be delicious and match our personalities, but not necessarily that the food be fancy or "wedding-ey." Right now we're looking at doing either Chinese or barbecue, and looking to feed around 100 people.
A fully catered service would bring in the food and plates/cups/etc. and serve all of it, right?
But if we chose a restaurant that didn't exactly cater, I'm assuming we could buy the food ourselves and rent the plates/warming trays etc. for the event. So, like, we could buy barbecue by the pound, then put it in the warming trays and set up a buffet or whatever.
So here's my question, having never catered an event before: How exactly would the logistics of that work out in regards to the timing of the ceremony/reception? Would we delegate someone to pick up the food right before the ceremony and keep it warm through the ceremony itself (15-20 minutes), then eat right after? I don't really know how long food can hang out while still tasting fresh and yummy.
And would warming trays/buffet setup be super expensive to rent? Could you get them from the same place you get plates and silverware? Does all of that equipment rental defeat the money-saving benefits of picking up food that way vs using a catering service?
Basically: HALP I do not know how to feed large quantities of people.
(PS: I'd like to keep the budget under $2,000 for food and servingware if at all possible, although there is a little bit of wiggle room)