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Mrs.Cullen
Expert September 2013

Self Catered vs Catering Company

Mrs.Cullen, on January 8, 2013 at 7:36 AM Posted in Planning 0 19
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Hey ladies! I've been going back and fourth with the idea of self catering my wedding or hiring a catering company. We're trying to keep our wedding cost as low as we can and I'm starting to notice that hiring a catering company is going to be a huge chunk out of our budget, but at the same time I've noticed that self catering looks as if it might be just as expensive if not more. I don't really want the headache that I can foresee coming with self catering, but I also don't want to spend a huge chunk on a caterer. So....What are some of the pros and cons of both? Any personal experiences with self catering that someone would want to share?

19 Comments

Latest activity by Lindsay, on October 25, 2016 at 1:09 PM
  • tiedaknot™
    Master March 2013
    tiedaknot™ ·
    • Flag

    You will have alot on your plate (no pun intended) without the catering aspect...I would have to say if it is going to cost the same (or maybe even a little less) let someone else take on this task!

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  • Desiree
    Master August 2013
    Desiree ·
    • Flag

    Agree with tiedaknot... if it's not going to be HUGE price difference I suggest hiring someone. It's just one less thing you'll have to worry about and you're going to be so busy as it is.

    • Reply
  • Mrs. S™
    Master October 2011
    Mrs. S™ ·
    • Flag

    Hire a caterer. Your wedding day should be the day you celebrate, and not spend it worrying about food. If the cost is a major issue, cut the guest list to a bare minimum, or have the reception at a non-meal time. Oh, and we had a bride who had food poisoning at a self-catered wedding. Unless you're a pro chef, you're probably not trained to deal with large amounts of food properly.

    • Reply
  • WWLeeor
    VIP June 2020
    WWLeeor ·
    • Flag

    I'm really liking the advice Mrs.S gave. Who wants to stress on their wedding day?!

    • Reply
  • S
    Expert July 2013
    Sue P. ·
    • Flag

    I went back and forth on this as well. We are having it catered. I did find that by not having china (wedding is in a park, reception at shelter house) reduced the price per person (buffet style) and that by not having them provide any table service at all saved me $3 per person. Which will save over $300.00. I found very nice looking heavy plastic plates (look like china until you touch them!) at Sam's Club. It'll cost us about $100.00 for the plates/plasticware/napkins...the plasticware looks like silverware.....but we are saving over $300.00 on the catering. Made sense to me!

    The only thing we are "self catering" is drinks (non-alcoholic since FH and I don't drink)...and I'll have someone else in charge of keeing the tea, lemonade, coffee filled and ready!

    sorry....edited for typo's!!

    • Reply
  • Sara
    VIP May 2013
    Sara ·
    • Flag

    You can find caterers for a decent bargain. My brother's now ex-girlfriend's mom (follow that?) is a wedding caterer. It is just a side job that she does outside of her home, she doesn't have a website, and she probably wouldn't be found on any wedding vendor searches. She is doing our catering (except the main dish, we are having my mom's cousin roast a pig for us), and it is coming in around $5-6 per person. It is buffet style.

    By going lower budget, I had to make some sacrifices. I didn't like the plates she would provide (disposable styrofoam), so I am providing plates and silverware (still using disposable). There won't be a large amount of servers, so people will probably have to throw away their own plates (I wasn't a fan of this, but my mom and FH convinced me it would be ok), and no one will be going around to top off water glasses.

    She does 20-30 weddings/year over the past few years, so I am very confidant she will do well for mine

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  • HoundMama
    VIP May 2013
    HoundMama ·
    • Flag

    Seriously, unless you throwing peanuts in a bowl, you do not want the headache of catering your own wedding.

    Have you tried local restaurants? Sometimes they will cater, but not be as pricey as an actual catering company. You could always try that route, but please do not attempt to cook on your wedding day!

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  • We'llAlwaysHaveParis
    Master November 2013
    We'llAlwaysHaveParis ·
    • Flag

    That is way too much stress to try catering yourself. Your closest friends and family would end up helping when really, they're the ones who should be celebrating with you.

    Have you thought about a cake / punch reception? Lunch versus dinner?

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  • Marilyn
    VIP January 2013
    Marilyn ·
    • Flag

    I at one point was going to self-cater, and now I couldn't imagine doing that!!! I have so much else on my plate! Plus it wouldn't really be you or me, you know? It would be your family.

    For example the day of I am getting my hair done, getting dressed, than straight to pictures, straight to ceremony, more pictures, intro into reception... so if I was self-catering it would be put on the shoulders of my family. Who are setting up the ceremony, putting up decorations, helping me into my dress...

    It is a lot to do, and planning a wedding is overwhelming as it is. I would skip the self-catering, and save you and your family that stress.

    Catering can be expensive, but if you shop around you can find good deals. We tasted about 3-4 places and LOVE our caterer. They are $20/a head, which isn't that expensive comparing against the average for wedding catering..

    • Reply
  • HRH Mags
    Master March 2014
    HRH Mags ·
    • Flag

    Everyone has given some great advice. Now I on the other hand am self catering. It does cut our cost signifigantly and with our venue it is doable. If I had to take things to the venue and do all the transport I would never even consider it. However that being said we have a small guest list and are having our wedding in a cabin with full kitchen. It is doable, but you have to be realistic about it. I'd never attempt to try for a larger guests list.

    I have found a lot of great articles and websites that give info on self caterering if you are interested, just pm me.

    If you can afford a caterer I would go with that to save yourself the trouble Smiley smile

    • Reply
  • Mrs.Cullen
    Expert September 2013
    Mrs.Cullen ·
    • Flag

    Thanks for the input ladies. After reading some of these comments I think we will go with a caterer. We don't have a place at the venue to cook so it would all have to be ahead of time, plus the guest list is roughly 150 (95% family!) so we can't really cut it down any more, and cooking for that many people is tons of work! My mom has offered to help out as much as she can if we self cater, but I don't want to put that on her shoulders when she should be enjoying her daughters wedding day, especially since she already said she's going to do hair for the bridal party!

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  • P
    Just Said Yes September 2013
    Private User ·
    • Flag

    I would be as honest with your caterer as possible, some menu options are cheaper than others and just as good. Let them know from the get go you are on a budget and ask if you oculd trade one menu item out for another that might be cheaper. Some items are labor intensive and have more expensive ingredients, while others are not and therefore less expensive. I would definitely not self cater for 150 if it isn't something you've done before. You want to enjoy your day and you want for 150 guests who are coming and most likely bringing gifts to feel like you appreciate them being there, they will be pleased with a catered meal. I would definitely ask around though, because I am sure you can find a caterer (as mentioned above) who might do it on the side or as a start up and as a result is cheaper. Good luck!!!

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  • HRH Mags
    Master March 2014
    HRH Mags ·
    • Flag

    WOW good choice. I would never in a billion years attempt to cater for 150 people. I'm just not that talented lol.

    • Reply
  • Iris
    Master February 2014
    Iris ·
    • Flag

    You could do self-service cater. At one point I wanted to do homemade food, but the ladies are right, it's too much stress. However, even with our new savings plan, we still cant afford even buffet style cater. So we are going middle ground. We are using the cater company we love, but they will do a drop off thing, food & the food heating sets (I forget what it's called). It'll be up to everyone to serve themselves. Both our families being casual, noone's going to complain about this. The difference between buffet cater & self service is $600, so you can see why we choose it.

    See if that might be something you can do

    • Reply
  • Meta
    Expert September 2012
    Meta ·
    • Flag

    If you were to choose self catering, which I wouldn't suggest, let some one else do it, not you. I helped my friend caterer her daughter's wedding and to be honest, while all the other guests enjoyed themselves, my friend and I were so busy that neither one of us remember the reception. So when my daughter suggested that we do it for her wedding I said NO WAY!! I wanted to enjoy and remember the whole day, and I don't regret one cent of the cost of the caterer.

    • Reply
  • Danielle
    Super June 2013
    Danielle ·
    • Flag

    I was considering the same thing and decided to go with a caterer. However, if you research BBQ places that cater in your area, you can usually find a place that can do it for a really good price. Most of them (at least where I live) offer stuff like herbed chicken and fresh salad (just a few examples) so even though they advertise as BBQ, you don't have to pick messy ribs or something.

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  • Terri
    VIP August 2013
    Terri ·
    • Flag

    We went back and forth on this issue in the beginning. FH is a chef and is the one that is usually doing the catering...it was hard for him to let go since he knew he could do it for a lot less expense. But when we got to talking to the caterer we decided on she was a huge help in working with us on what our budget is and helped us create a great meal within our budget. She also was willing to let us do the appetizers and dessert table which are all things we can do in advance and not take a chunk of time out of our wedding day stressing over and dealing with. The very few dollars more we will spend on catering is more than worth doing away with the stress and freeing us up to enjoy the reception with our guests.

    • Reply
  • L
    Savvy September 2017
    Lindsay ·
    • Flag

    I'm considering self catering with the help of a co worker.

    We are thinking we can produce a sit down dinner with a simple salad, three meat opinions, two sides, and bread.

    The bride and bridesmaids will make the appetizers (fruit display, veggie display, cheese plate, and maybe a few nicer options).

    Having the grooms family bring desserts for a dessert table ( they are great bakers).

    I can hire local waitress and bartender for the evening ($10 an hour for the waiters and $16.50 an hour for the bartender.)

    This will come out $2000 cheaper than I was quoted for a buffet of chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, and a roll.

    I haven't made up my mind yet because of all the things I'd have to think about but I'm kind of leaning self catered.

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