In one day, I will be married eleven years to my wonderful husband. Today, eleven years since the eve of the wedding brings back many memories. Some of them are dreamy and some of them-well remind me of how focused I was eleven years ago.
Kevin and I both had very large families and had both attended different churches our entire lives. I had been in a sorority in college. My parents had many community connections-and the invitation list kept growing and growing. I had a dozen bridesmaids!
We simply could not afford a caterer for all these people. Eventually, we invited about 800 people, and around 500 attended.
I cooked all the food for our wedding. You can cater your own wedding, but you have to be extremely organized. Fortunately, I had some experience in catering dabbling before this time. But little parties for the local theatre and helping out at someone else’s wedding or two was quite a different story.
We had nine months to plan, and I had always had a dream of providing my wedding guests with hearty fare at the wedding-how I hated those stand-up mint and cake and punch receptions. I had another reason for catering the wedding myself. I don’t want to sound flip, but I am simply a better and more creative cook than most caterers in our small North Georgia town.
My two biggest tools were Ziploc bags and a large chest freezer at my mom’s. We asked about twenty friends to help serve the food at the reception.
I cooked for three months, on and off, prior to the event. The point is to focus on items that can be easily made and frozen ahead of time. Standard fare like cheese balls and sausage balls fit that fare. Simply thaw out the items the day or night before.
Secondly, be a great consumer at discount club stores such as Sam’s or Costco. You can buy big jugs of ranch dressing, for example, at very good prices. All caterers do this-be aware of this. You just simply have to refrigerate it and pour into elegant bowls at the event. This common dip is loved by all as a dip for vegetables, and it is so easy.
Stores such as this have a wonderful selection of pretty frozen items. We went for the meatballs. For the event, we thawed them, placed them in heating chafing dishes and poured Kraft barbeque sauce over them, which was also purchased in jugs at Sam’s. The men loved it.
About five days before the wedding, you can prepare items such as cubing cheese, cutting most vegetables (but leave cucumbers for the day before), and preparing items such as pasta salad, which really fills out a plate nicely.
All in all, we served our meal to our 500 guests who went back for seconds at the buffet. Our wedding was at four o’clock in the afternoon, and we had so many people tell us that they had expected to go out to eat afterwards, but were too stuffed to do so.