How do we have a 5+ hour cocktail reception with wine and beer, and provide enough food without going broke?

by Poor bride
(London, Ontario, Canada)

Sunday afternoon, about 100 people - we're struggling with timeline and food. We've paid a lot for our venue, and don't want to only use it for a couple of hours. We also don't want to miss most of the reception while we have pics done, so 1-5 or so won't work . . . but if we get married at 11:30 and the reception goes until 5, we'll have a bunch of drunk guests if we don't feed them a lot! Even appetizers are expensive!! We don't think we can afford to feed everyone a meal, and our venue won't allow us to bring in our own food, unless it's made in a commercial kitchen that has $5 000 000 in insurance, and they're also saying WE need $5 000 000 in insurance if we don't hire a caterer. Any suggestions?

Hi Poor Bride!

Sounds like you are getting wedding stress from your venue. You will need to feed your guests as your reception is over lunch time which can mean expensive. I guess that as your venue is putting conditions on you hiring a caterer that they would prefer you to have them cater for the event.

Some suggestions would be to delay the time of the wedding so that your reception is in the afternoon where you could then serve an afternoon tea reception of sandwiches, cakes and scones with pots of tea and of course your wedding cake. Have a chat with a local deli or sandwich place that has the insurance but not the price tag on catering for events!

Local restaurants, cafes and even catering colleges will have to have the insurance that you spoke about, they may be able to provide your reception buffet at a fraction of the cost of a wedding buffet from local caterers. Colleges love real life projects for their students (I know I was once a catering student) make initial enquiries at their training restaurant and explain what you want and that you would love to give students the experience and that you are impressed with the college's reputation. Don't panic that the students won't know what they are doing, the lecturers will ensure everything runs smoothly.

The same goes for local cafes and restaurants especially new ones that are building up their reputation. They would love the exposure, just imagine an article in the local paper on how you loved their food so much you wanted them to cater for your wedding.

Another option is to keep the costs of your food down by choosing comfort foods, one popular idea from the corporate event world is to have a mash potato or risotto bar at the venue where your guests can go and choose what they would like. You could extend this to a soup and local bread bar. Have a chat with a local baker and ask them to provide local specialities for the event. Everyone loves bread and it fills people up, which is what you need if your reception is going to be long!

Don't forget to have your wedding cake served as the dessert to save you money.

Although canapes and cocktails are becoming more popular I don't think this would be the right way to save money on your reception, this is more for a couple of hours in the evening.

Good luck finding something that works for you.

Suz

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