Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dean Weddings

In this blog, I plan to offer you a sneak peak behind the scenes of the many weddings we do over here. At the Dean wedding, I was just lending a helping hand. I had no part in planning or set up. I was just the knowledgeable hands and feet for the day along with my husband. It's been a while since I was on my feet 14 hours straight. It brings back memories of the old caterer days!

The wedding was set on a beautiful piece of private property in the Mohawk valley. A wonderfully landscape lawn blended into a wide-open field trimmed just for the day. Huge white tents stretched over the white and green clothed tables. The site was such a blessing for the couple! Aside from how beautiful it was, they had no site rentals for either the ceremony or the reception. The in-laws even had all of the large white tents to use as sun coverage. All in all, a savings of possibility thousands of dollars. The wedding was beautiful. The bride was beautiful. The band was great and there was food for everyone. It was a beautiful August wedding in Oregon. Now for the inside scoop!

The family chose to go with the do-it-yourself option on food and spent the money on the band and a great bar. Doing the food yourself is an option that will not work for everyone. The huge expense of TIME can often out way any money you save by not paying a catering staff. We're not just talking YOUR time and energy. The time of various family members will be used as well. In this case, all of the bride's immediate family was elbow deep in food for days before the weddings. (For anyone who's contemplating this, Potato salad for 300 takes a long time, just so you know!) I understand the concept of saving money this way, but brides and their families are often not prepared for the emotional and physical cost of doing the food yourself. When my sisters and I got married, we had the advantage of many years of combined knowledge in the business and a restaurant at our disposal. For those of you without the experience or tools yet would still like to do it on your own, here are a few tips that will save you time, money and energy.


Pick a simple menu to prepare. Grilled chicken breasts are a lot easier than chicken skewers - a lot less preparation involved. Green salad is easier than potato salad - again, a lot less preparation. If you're going to do it yourself, save yourself time and energy wherever you can and the easiest place to do that is in the preparation of the food. Make sure you choose foods that will hold up well over time and are simple to arrange on the buffet. Also give thought to whether the menu you choose can ALL be prepared ahead of time so no one is stuck at the grill during the ceremony cooking something at last minute so it will be fresh and edible.


Have you ever thought you'd have to have a place to store food for 300? Most people don't have refrigeration for that much food just hanging around in the garage. Check into renting a refrigerated trailer. Beer distributors have them for kegs and you may be able to get one cheap if you're serving their beer. Believe me, it’s a lot easier than sending gallons of potato salad home with members of the bridal party to refrigerator until the big day.


Although food preparation is a time drag before the wedding, it is a consideration during the wedding celebrations as well. Obviously you and all your immediate family will playing their various roles in your ceremony. None of you will be available to get all the food out on the buffet - nor should you try to. Make sure to assign a responsible adult not essential to the ceremony to take care of any last minute cooking. This person also needs to get all the food out and arranged on the buffet right before the ceremony starts. And not forget about refilling the buffet. Depending on the size of your wedding, the buffet may need to be refilled half way through and YOU better not be doing that either. Here's a place you might spend some extra money on staff. Hire someone experienced to head this up and stick around for the clean up. Helps a lot.


A buffet is the only real option for a wedding do-it-yourselfer. Have you ever set up or stocked a buffet before? Stocking a buffet, especially for a large wedding, requires two people. They'll play tag team, a runner to check food levels and report back and the other to prepare the next platter of food to put out and hand it off to the runner. Weddings larger than 200 need two buffets and they should always be double-sided so people can go down both sides of the buffet. This will speed service time up and keep everyone in good spirits.


Don't forget about clean up! Who's going to break down the buffets, wrap up all the leftovers, take down the decorations, and clear the tables? You'll get lots of volunteers to help with set up including bridesmaids and girlfriends of groomsmen. Don't expect these same people to stick around afterwards to break everything down on their own. This requires a special request on your part. Otherwise, it’s going to be the mother of the bride or some such responsible individual who gets stuck with it all at the end of the night. Many hands make light work and a word to your bridal party ahead of time is not out of place. Their role as part of your bridal party comes with responsibilities, not just the fun and games.

Like all aspects of your weddings, the food service is all about details. You will have to think of everything necessary for food service and make sure it gets to your reception whether by your own hand or delivered. If you still want to do it yourself after all this, go for it! The best thing you can do is to be informed. Don't be afraid to ask someone who knows what they're doing to advise you or even help you out on the big day.

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