If you read my post last week, you saw that our catering experience has been less-than-stellar throughout wedding planning. The whole battle has been a back-and-forth debacle of endless brainstorming, problem-solving, head-palming, and pacing across the floor stressed to the max.

We thought we’d come to a nice solution last week when we decided to just self-cater the affair, much like we did for my sister’s wedding in 2007. But when it came to facing reality, it was evident that self-catering conflicted largely with our vision for the day and priorities as far as how we wanted to spend the day and experience the company of our loved ones.

{Pictures are from my sister (and MOH) Dani’s wedding July 2007 —

the inspiration behind our self-catering/DIY wedding dreams!}

As you can imagine, self-catering any large-scale event is a big undertaking. It’s definitely doable, but can be costly and definitely stressful. It takes a lot of time, too. While most brides probably don’t think through the logistics of how their steak and shrimp bruschetta and miniature BLT sliders are composed and presented… if they did, they’d have a much larger appreciation for those people slaving away in the kitchen. SO MUCH time and energy and effort goes into making food for 200 guests: ¬†cutting, slicing, washing fruits and vegetables; seasoning, grilling, cooling, reheating meat; baking, slicing, broiling, buttering bread… the more you start to think about it the longer the list becomes.

The number one reason we decided to go with a caterer in the first place was not because we felt that the food quality/taste would be superior (my parents are superb in the kitchen, y’all), but because I want to be a Bride on my wedding day, and I want a Father and Mother of the Bride that play the part of Father and Mother of the Bride. I want to wake up with all my girlfriends, drink some coffee out on the screened-in porch, eat some cinnamon toast, giggle and chat and excitedly await the afternoon to come, get prettied up in my parents’ bedroom, play with my nephews, slip into my dress (without a rush), get the most beautiful pictures taken, see my future husband for the first time on our wedding day (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), hold his hand and kiss him and cry and be swung around by him and dwell in his loveliness, pose with my friends and family on the farm, cool down with some lemonade and fans, caravan over to the venue, gush over how gorgeous everything looks (and probably cry), wait excitedly for the music to start, my mother to walk down the aisle, and then hear Mary Alice say, “It’s time!”, cry again, and make my way to say my I-Do’s.

Here’s how I don’t want to spend my wedding day: ¬†Waking up to 12 family members crashing around in the kitchen, frantically throwing things into the oven/grill/stove/fridge/sink, have two little restless boys being ignored or shooed out of everyone’s way, listening to chaos, only being able to see my mother for thirty-second bursts of time as I’m getting my makeup done, having to radio in my mother to have her get her makeup done, waiting twenty minutes longer to start family pictures because the rolls still haven’t risen enough to bake, driving back and forth a hundred times to the Livery Stables to get all the food transported and appropriately refrigerated/cooled/heated/simmered/sauteed, having to find a way to politely decline the very kind but unwanted offer of meatballs cooked and brought by a well-meaning relative, having 30 people see me in my wedding regalia before the wedding starts, speeding over to the venue for the last time before we’re rushed upstairs, setting out all the food during “cocktail hour” that only half the guests actually get to enjoy, seeing my mother picking up plastic plates as they pile up on guests’ tables while I’m dancing with my father…. etc.

I hired a caterer in hopes of eliminating the stress of doing it ourselves. We chose a venue that would take care of things so that my family wouldn’t have to. For better or worse, that caterer did not work out.

She did give me an estimate. She sent it late Sunday night, after one of my father’s coworkers (a friend of hers) asked her about it after hearing our distress over the situation. She’s, of course, busy. My wedding is not number 1 priority for her, clearly. And that’s to be expected — I realize, as a wedding professional myself, that the world does NOT revolve around my wedding. Thousands of weddings go on every single Saturday. I am one of many brides. However, two months prior to the wedding date is not an appropriate timeline to send a first-draft catering proposal, especially when it has been requested for the past six months. It is not unreasonable for me to set a deadline prior to the two-months-out mark. She did not meet my deadline. She will not be receiving any more business from me. We will still have our wedding at the same venue, but we will not be using their catering services. Or any services beyond unlocking the door and turning on the A/C.

{That’s me in the blue polo jumping for the bouquet! While I didn’t catch it, I DID meet my very own future fiance just one short month after this was taken!}

For those wondering, her price was in line with the original estimate she’d given us at our showing of the property back in November ($10pp). She did, however, add on the $100 kitchen rental fee that she’d said would only be charged if we brought in our own caterer. She added a few random charges that didn’t make complete sense to me and a few labor expenses that I absolutely understood. Her estimate was within our allotted budget. If she’d sent it to us in a timely manner (or even an untimely manner that still met the deadline I explicitly laid out for her), we would have been happy (or at least appeased) to book them, put everything behind us, and let them take care of the day for us. I’d have written a check and gone on my merry way. Unfortunately for the both of us (perhaps), that was not the case.

I don’t believe in doing business with someone (or some company) I cannot trust, rely upon, speak honestly with, or feel comfortable dispensing responsibility to. Even though the price was right, the person was not.

So what does a bride without a caterer do? She gets resourceful. And creative. And pulls from her lovely little inventory of wedding ideas and comes up with something that is a lovely little substitution.

…. to be continued!!!!

Want to find out what we decided? Stay tuned for next week’s installment! :)