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Saturday, June 11, 2011

DIY Weddings. Everybody's Cooking but Not a Caterer?

This is an introduction at the beginning of each topic in this series.  Look below for the new entry in this series.  We all want to save money whenever we can, but if we end up paying more in the long run or creating a bad experience, what are we really saving?  Everything boils down to what you don't know can hurt you.  Here are just a few things you should know about various aspects of your wedding if you don't use professionals.  This is just the tip of the iceberg!  If you hear yourself say any of these statements, you might want to really stop and take the time to consider the costs in time and money.  Stop and be honest with yourself first to make sure that you aren’t making a decision you will regret weeks or years later.  
“I can do that!”  
“I have a friend who does that!”  
“That looks easy enough to do!”  
“I don’t think that will matter”. 
“I don’t have the money for that”.
“I think that _____ would enjoy doing that!”

Unlike in the past when you weren't expected to feed your guests anything more than cake and beverages, it's common place to be expected to feed your guests a meal in some style.  Here is just a little Catering 101.  The three main styles of serving a meal at a reception are what the industry refers to as plated, family style and buffet. Simply put, the most expensive is a plated meal.  A plated meal is when the food is going to be served by staff to your table.  Family style is when the food is going to be on each table in adequately-sized serving containers to be passed around as you would at the family dinner table.  The last and most common is a buffet style where everyone goes through a line and selects from a choice of food that you and your caterer have determined to be a good combination.

For DIY weddings, your most common option is where a select group of friends to family members cook food to provide in a buffet line.  The second option is to have a potluck.

This post, in a series of DIY wedding posts, is focused on what you might need to know before deciding on having food provided by someone other than a caterer, if your venue is one that allows outside catering.  In this case, outside does not me outdoors!!  Outside means that they allow someone else to come in to provide food other than their own catering facilities, or caterers from a preferred vendor list of people they have probably worked with many times.

Here is a list of things to consider that could pose a greater risk if you are not using a caterer and having a DIY reception.

1.  Food-borne illness is probably the biggest concern.  You've undoubtedly heard the declaration of "Keep Hot Food Hot and Cold Food Cold".  Nothing could be more important.  A caterer is equipped to do that.

2.  Do you know if your guests who are bringing food prepare food in a safe and sanitary way?  
Beware of having Aunt Mary bringing food is everyone complains of getting sick after eating at her house!

3.  Do you know how much food you should prepare without their being a lot of wasted food.  This added cost could have been applied to hiring a caterer and would be one less worry for you.

4.  Back to keeping things hot or cold as necessary.  Bluntly put, let's talk leftovers.  

5.  Do you have containers to give to guests?  

6.  Do you know how long their trip is before they get home? 

7.  Is there an adequate way to refrigerate food where your reception is taking place?  

8.  Do you know how long food can be set out over Sternos?  

9.  Do you have an adequate way to keep the food chilled?  

10.  Do you know how long it takes a guest to arrive to your wedding and how long something might have sat on their counter, in their car and then in a buffet line and has their been adequate refrigeration?

Again this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as considerations when you are not using a professional caterer.  There are a zillion things that would be helpful to know before hiring a cater.  You can also go to my link below to sign up for my newsletter to get a lot of information on a continual basis.

As always, wishing you the greatest of days!      Click on the link below to get the free Wedding Vision Questionnaire and other information that will help  brides and grooms plan their wedding.

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