Let’s help you make your decision!
You’ll find from a lot of professionals in the industry would answer the question “Should I self-cater?” with a hard and fast no – and I get where they’re coming from, I really do, but what can I say besides ‘I disagree’?
Those of you who are new here, HI! I’m the recently married Breanne Dodge and I plan weddings for a living. I decided that I wanted to be a wedding planner because I grew up in my chef-dad’s industrial kitchen, watching the weddings happen from behind closed kitchen doors and longing to help with more that just peeling carrots. Naturally, having spent the majority of my life working in the kitchen in one capacity or another, I’m very comfortable around food… And a little particular about it. I know what I enjoy eating, what flavors make me happy, and, more importantly, what flavors do not.
I’ve eaten a lot of food at a lot of different weddings and you’ll find that more often than not you get the same brand of dry chicken, well-done beef, and caesar salad. That, in and of itself, may be a good reason to consider self-catering, or exploring different catering options.
When you, the couple, do your food tasting with a caterer that you’ve decided might be the right one for you, keep in mind that you get a much different product than what arrives for your wedding buffet. No one wants this to be true; not the couple, not the wedding planner, and especially not the caterer. The caterer wishes that the individually plated meal that they serve you at your tasting tastes exactly the same as your buffet will on your wedding day, but it just won’t, and there are a few reasons why:
- What the caterer is making for your tasting are a few plates of food; quality control is super easy when there’s only three or four plates of food being served. When your caterer makes meals for 100 people, it becomes difficult to make sure every. Single. Meal. Is that perfect, no matter how many staff members are trying to ensure perfection.
- Travel. For your tasting, typically, you go to the caterer: they prep everything on site, the ovens and deep fryers are right there, and the walk-in fridge has everything they might need. When they’re catering your wedding, unless you’ve hired the on-site caterer (e.g. at a golf course, private club, etc.) the caterer brings most of the food pre-prepped and oftentimes pre-cooked. Have you ever picked up takeout, knowing that you wouldn’t be eating it until you get home, some twenty minutes later? Well, those fries taste great while you’re driving, but your dinner has lost some of its oomph – it has continued to cook itself from the steam in your takeout container. The same phenomenon happens when you cater brings pre-cooked food to your wedding. (Bear in mind, this can happen if you self-cater hot food too.)
When your caterer makes meals for 100 people, it becomes difficult to make sure every. Single. Meal. Is that perfect, no matter how many staff members are trying to ensure perfection.
Knowing this, you may decide that hey, a traditional caterer isn’t right for you. (That’s why you clicked the link to check this out, isn’t it?)
I knew from the get-go that hiring a caterer wouldn’t be my cup of tea. I’m picky and when we were thinking about wedding food, only one menu item came to mind for what I would really want… tacos! There is no way a caterer, no matter how good, is going to make the tacos the way I want them to be made (read: Breanne is a control freak about food). Knowing this and also how easy tacos can be, I decided to treat my wedding like a giant taco night.
The reason other event professionals might tell you you self-catering is a big fat bad idea is because of the amount of work it takes, and they wouldn’t be wrong; there’s a good reason hiring a caterer costs so damn too much.
If you aren’t aware of the sheer amount of work self-catering is, my blog post about how to be your own caterer should give you a small insight. I strongly recommend that you take a look there before looking further ahead here.
Now we know why you might want to self-cater, the question left is should you?
I’m not going to lie, a fair number of you are going to finish reading this and decide no, I shouldn’t, but to the few of you strong-willed crazy people (and you are my kind of crazy, I’ll have you know), you’re going to finish here and start working on your meal plan with gusto.
Consider the questions below, then make your decision on if you should really self-cater: