Throughout my recaps of our wedding planning written for this blog, I really haven’t had anything negative to say up to this point. Sure — working with a limited budget has been stressful, finding a date seemed near-impossible for so long, and finding the perfect dress to fit my 6 bridesmaids was less than a cakewalk. But I haven’t had a completely negative experience in this process until this point in time.

Ultimately, I think I set myself up for failure in the area of food & beverage. Drew and I wrote out a priorities list back whenever we started planning and have since tweaked it some, but as a whole, we knew what things we wanted to really invest in and what things we didn’t really care about. As you can guess, food was on the bottom of the list.

As a wedding planner myself, I know catering is expensive. Good food doesn’t come cheap {but apparently neither does mediocre food}. On top of paying simply for the products your guests will be consuming, you also have to budget for plates, utensils, napkins, linens, the works. One of the reasons we chose our venue was for its all-inclusivity:  The Livery Stables provides tables, basic hotel-style stackable chairs, and china/crystal/utensils. They also offer in-house catering, at what was originally quoted to us {back in November, when we booked} at an outrageously low price. Honestly, those two features were main reasons why we chose our venue to begin with.

{Wedding Food I Love:  Strawberry butter, to accompany a biscuit bar!}

Let’s back up a moment. In November when the Great Venue Hunt was on, Drew and I talked to our first-choice location about hosting our wedding there, and were completely sticker-shocked at their required $40++ per person food costs (and labor, and cake cutting fees, and gratuities, and $18pp — beer and wine only– bar charges, the list goes on…). It was a deal-breaker for us, racking up the venue charges alone to over $15,000. {So in other words, that’s not including my dress, photography, videography, flowers, entertainment, our cake, invitations, etc.} So when the NEXT place we looked at offered $6-12 per person catering and a much lower venue rental fee, it was music to our ears.

{Wedding Food I Love:  Mini ice cream cones!!! I love minis and I LOVE ice cream!}

I should’ve known after I told Mary Alice and Hillary about the $6-12pp quote and they LAUGHED. Out LOUD. I should’ve known! Brides, take heed. If your caterer estimates their prices at $6 to $12 per person, things will probably not end well for you. You’re either going to be eating Tostitos and salsa, be extremely understaffed and unsatisfied, or end up with absolutely nothing in the end… because let’s face it. $6 to $12 per person is not a realistic amount of money to spend on catering. {SORRY! If you’re as cheap as we are, just splurge on the cake and serve champagne or coffee and go simple. Or do brunch. But you probably can’t even do brunch that cheaply, so really just give it up because it’s not going to work out. Sorry, sorry, sorry.}

So anyways, we booked the venue. We tasted the food. {Mediocre, but decent for being so cheap.} We asked for an estimate based on the menu we toyed around with. We heard nothing for three months. We met in April with the catering manager (also the venue owner) to discuss a more specific menu and “finalize” some ideas. We asked for an estimate based on THAT menu. Nothing. We emailed three weeks after the meeting and were promised that a proposal was coming that evening. Nothing. We emailed the following weekend. Nothing. This has continued for weeks. My mother, fed up with hearing nothing, called our catering manager/venue owner and was told over the phone that the proposal had been sent but that she would send it again that afternoon. NOTHING. Eight zillion emails later, we have still not heard a SINGLE WORD about the missing proposal. We have given her multiple email addresses to submit it to, multiple phone numbers to call to explain what’s going on, offered to pick it up IN PERSON — all to no avail.

{Wedding Food I Love:  Chicken and waffles!}

Looks like someone can’t deliver their $6-12 catering prices. Or doesn’t care enough to want the business.

I honestly don’t know what the issue is (clearly — communication has not been substantial at any given point of time) and can only postulate what could possibly be going on. I have given every opportunity to explain, try multiple avenues of transmission, etc. We have been polite but insistent, but at this point we are absolutely fed up with the unprofessionalism our venue/caterer has exhibited. {Another golden nugget of advice for other brides:  If your venue owner or caterer or — God forbid, planner– ever tells you, “This is just my hobby! Some people like scrapbooking; I do weddings for fun!” you better RUN LIKE HELL! Run! Flee! GET OUT OF THERE!}

Needless to say, we will no longer be using their catering services.

Instead, we’re going to have one spectacular wedding cake and take care of feeding our friends ourselves. Catering is not an area I would ever recommend to brides to DIY (by any means — if you’re looking for a legitimate, wonderful, will-deliver-what-they-promise caterer, please refer to our StudioWed caterers!! they’re FANTASTIC!). However, at two months out from the wedding day, having taken for granted that we would have cheap food all along, it’s too late to restructure our budget and book a legitimate caterer. This is one lesson we probably should have learned in January, but for better or worse, this is where we are.

{Wedding Drinks I Love:  Lemonade — with pink striped straws, of course!}

So, my family will be buying, preparing, and serving our wedding meal. Fortunately, my parents do have the experience of having catered both my sister’s and cousin’s weddings in years past (as well as countless parties I’ve thrown growing up). It will not be professional, it will not be overly fancy, but it will be tasty and satisfy our need for a meal (seeing as our wedding starts at 5:30PM and I’d prefer for guests not to leave right away). It will be a family affair. It will probably be extremely stressful (as it always is, having to get things ready on the DAY OF OUR WEDDING). There will be sacrifices made. But we made our bed and we will now lie in it.

And no one will go hungry. That’s the thing that counts, right?