Self-Catering a Wedding

by Melissa on January 17, 2011

One of the many wedding-budget saving tips I have read is to self-cater your wedding.  Catering is by far the biggest expense of a typical wedding, so self-catering can be a major money-saver.


Why I don’t think self-catering is a good idea

Although I’m a penny pincher, I never really thought self-catering would be a good idea, for a couple of reasons:

  1. The last thing I want to be doing the days before my wedding is stressing about cooking and baking.
  2. Most venues, even those without preferred caterers, require that food-providers be licensed and insured
  3. Logistics are difficult.  Transporting and storing that amount of food, in addition to figuring out how much food one needs for 100+ people, sounds daunting.

Why my view on self-catering has changed

We found a awesome venue at a nearby National Park site that we’re hoping to use as our wedding venue (rental applications can’t be submitted for another few months).  There are no restrictions on food.  Catered or self-catered, you can do whatever you want.  The only requirement is a Virginia liquor license and some liability insurance if you’re serving alcohol.

Realizing just how much of our budget catering will eat up (no pun intended), I had an epiphany that self-catering really isn’t that bad of an idea, especially if other relatives are willing to help.

Menu Ideas

  1. One table of specialty foods from my fiance’s side of the family.  This would include things like German Potato Salad and other amazing German dishes
  2. One table of specialty foods from my side of the family.  This would include foods such as pierogies, kielbasa, pizelle cookies, homemade pickles, and spicy shrimp.
  3. Catered accompaniments by a local restaurant, like an Italian restaurant
  4. Cupcakes made by my fiance’s aunt, and possibly a more traditional cake from a bakery. Plus some other dessert options, including a candy or sweets table.  And of course, s’mores for the fireplace
  5. Bartender services through a local company.

We still have to crunch the numbers to get clearer budget figures, but I still think this will be considerably cheaper than the least expensive catering option we have found in the DC area, which is approximately $36 per person, not including alcohol.

Action Plan

  1. Ask venue for contact information for other couples that have had their wedding at the park and ask what they did for their catering
  2. Research nearby restaurants for accompaniment catering options
  3. Search wedding forums and contact other couples that have self-catered their weddings for their lessons learned
  4. Firm up potential menu offerings.


In the meantime, I’d love to hear from other brides that have self-catered their weddings

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