How I Catered my Own Wedding Food for $400

June 18, 2015

We are both obsessed with popcorn and bonded over our love of it at the beginning, so this was an important feature of the wedding. ūüôā

So we planned a wedding  in less than 2 weeks.  I am aware this is not normal or sane behavior.

I didn’t want a big production.

I cared about three things: having great wedding food, great friends and a stress-free day.

Since this was so last minute, I had no choice but to cater it myself. ¬†Of course, as a chef this is a common thing. ¬†If you don’t have cooking experience catering your wedding is the last thing I recommend.

Not only did I make the wedding food, I fed the guests fish tacos Friday and Shakshuka eggs for breakfast Saturday morning.

So how did I cater own wedding for less than $400?

1.  Kept it small


Tiny backyard wedding

Tiny backyard wedding

The wedding was small Р9 adults and 10 kids.  Any more than 30 guests would have required hiring help.

2. Kept the menu simple using the best produce available

I opted for a BBQ theme.  This meant slow cooked, smoked and grilled meats. Refreshing summer salads. Homemade dinner rolls.  BBQ sauce and salsa.

The menu?

  • Chili-Crusted Tri-tip grilled on charcoal
  • Spiced Crusted Smoked Pork Roast
  • Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs with BBQ Sauce
  • Watermelon-Feta Salad with Mint
  • Potato-Green Bean Salad with Pickled Onions Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Homemade Dinner Rolls

CUPCAKES! with silky light buttercream.

And this scrumptious cocktail of sparkling rose with elderflower liqueur.

The meat totaled $180.  The salads $40.  Copious bottles of this delicious summer rose, $60. 

3. Staggered the shopping + prep

On Wednesday obtained the meat and vegetables at the Farmer’s market. ¬†Made the spice rubs and crusted the meat. ¬†Made the vinaigrette for the potato salad.

Thursday: cut the green beans/pickled the onions.

Friday: cut up the watermelon, cook the potatoes and green beans.  Made bread dough.  Prep charcoal grill and smoker.

Saturday: Cook meat: place the pork and ribs in the outdoor smoker.  Forget about them for 6+ hours. Assemble salads.  Bake bread.  Grill tri-tip.

3. Enlisted help of several friends to help

I couldn’t have gotten married AND grilled the meat in time for dinner, so I had help from Chef Collen to do this.

My incredibly talented cook friend Andrea and daughter (and future chef) Piper made the DELICIOUS cupcakes, recipe graciously donated by my amazing friend chef Carla Contreras at Red Clog Kitchen.

4. ¬†Didn’t fuss over everything looking perfect

Dinner was served buffet style.  On paper plates (minor cringe but I catered my own wedding, which was enough work already!)

I didn’t have the energy to make sure everything looked perfect. ¬†But the food turned out delicious. ¬†The day was filled with love from friends who made sure we had a better wedding than the private 3 person wedding we’d planned on having. ¬†In the end, the day was perfect because I didn’t try to make it perfect. ¬†I focused on fun and I couldn’t have imagined a better day.

Now I enjoyed catering my own wedding. ¬†I’m a chef and we are control freaks with our food.

Should you cater your own wedding?

If it’s small enough and you love to cook, and you can stay organized – then go for it.

If you want to enjoy your own party without cutting ribs in your wedding dress, then you may want to enlist some help.

Chef Bride

If you are having a small wedding, consider hiring a personal chef for a more intimate experience.  If your goal is to keep the wedding small, intimate and personal Рa personal chef will enhance that experience.

If you wedding is larger than 30, then you’ll need a caterer.

If you decide to cater your own wedding, I’d love to hear about it. ¬†If you had amazing (or awful) food at your wedding, I’d love to hear about it too. ¬†It’s one of those things that can go either way….

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