Broke-Ass Category: Liz


Ask Liz Wedding Time vs. Catring

Dear Liz, 

The second deposit for my venue is due next week, and when I looked at the contract and thought about what we want to happen that day, I’m starting to freak out. Our wedding is next month, we’re getting married at 5pm, and the music has to be off by 10pm, so we can be totally out by 11pm. With the ceremony, cocktail hour and buffet dinner,  that’s not a lot of time to party, and everything’s going to be so rushed, right? I talked to the caterer and he said it’s going to take at least an hour, at least, for everyone to get served, at least, so that sucks up all the dancing time, and I’m worried that we won’t be able to relax because we’ll be too busy trying to end on time. I’m fixated on the buffet. A whole hour? Is there a way to make that shorter, or somehow make the day…longer? Help!


Eating Up My Time

Dear Eating,

Trust me, the day is going to be long enough! But, yeah, one of the challenges of having a buffet is that it does take a while if you want to do it in an orderly manner — calling tables, giving each table enough time to go through before you call the next one. If your caterer is saying it’s going to take an hour, you have what, between 150-200 guests? It’s a lot of people.

Tell your caterer that you’re concerned and bounce around some ideas. Double-side the buffet so that more guests can go through at a time? Double up the number of buffet tables? What’s going to work in terms of the staff he has, or how much more is it going to cost to make it happen? Get clear on what’s possible on his end. And, have a discussion about maybe shortening up the cocktail hour. Talk to your photographer about that, too.

You can also free up time in other ways. Do the first dance right when you enter into the reception area. Ask that your meal be served at your table, so you can eat quickly and then mingle. Maybe have toasts during dinner service, depending on how everything is laid out? Open up the dance floor. Go visit all those people you’re afraid you won’t have time to hang out with, or drag them on to the dance floor that  you opened up for that purpose. Your priority is to enjoy the night with your friends and family, so enjoy it. It’s all there waiting for you. And remember, there are no rules, you just need to figure out the best way to make it work.

Oh, and more thing: If the music has to be off by 10 p.m., you should close the bar by 9:30. I know, ouch, right? Sorry about that.

Are you worried about your wedding time? Have any questions about my advice. Let me know in the comments below.

And, if you would like to find out more about me and my corner of Wedding World, come visit at

See you at the end of the aisle,

  • 8/28


    Photo: Andie Freeman Photography

    Dear Liz,

    My fiancé and I are in the very beginning of planning our wedding. Naturally, we started with the venue hunt. But now we have a small problem.

    I  found a beautiful venue, it barely needs decoration, and it’s sooo unique. However, they  only have one exclusive caterer, and they don’t impress me. With our budget we would only be able to afford a small buffet, and most likely, we won’t be able to serve alcohol.

    On the other hand, there’s venue number #2. It’s a cafe that serves a huge buffet of delicious Italian food, with complimentary and unlimited alcohol! And,it’s about the same price as venue #1. The space is also beautiful, even if it isn’t as unique, but we would have to do a lot more work to make it look the way we want.

    What do I do?

    Venue Blues

    Dear Blues,

    I figure I don’t have to tell you that you’re going to get more for your money with venue #2. So, if you want confirmation of that, there you go. You like the food, alcohol is included and you can afford it. If those are your biggest concerns — the wedding bar has some powerful guest-expectation mojo — My head says go for #2, and figure out how to make it work and make it pretty. That is, after all, why God invented Pinterest. Pinterest and preferred vendor lists.

    But there’s something about venue #1 … and it sounds like that might be where your heart is, which totally overrules my head. If I’m right, we have a saying in Wedding World, “When in doubt, play it out.” Before you make the final call, crunch the numbers and all the options. Is it the food at venue #1 that you don’t like, or that there won’t be enough of it? There’s nothing wrong with a small buffet, as long as you have enough food for everyone. You don’t have to offer five entrees and three side dishes. Most guests will only pick one entree and go through the line once, very few of them will go back for seconds. No one is going to fume because there’s no salmon or truffle mac and cheese, or whatever. You can keep it simple. If it is the quality of the food itself that’s a problem, talk to the caterer about alternative menus and pick one or two that you’re more okay with. Another benefit to a small buffet — if the food isn’t good, at least you’re serving less of it. It never hurts to ask, always ask. The same goes with alcohol. You can set your guests’ expectations. Can’t afford a full bar, cool, just serve beer and wine. Why, someone might ask? Because that’s what you’re serving. Again, people don’t care if there’s everything, just as long as there is something. Or, if you really were looking forward to cosmopolitans and tequila shots all night, find out exactly how much that will cost, and more importantly, how long you have to decide to do it. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have to be right now. If you love the place, don’t give up, yet.

    Are you having the same dilemma choosing between two different venues or vendors? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll figure it out. And if you want to find out more about me and my corner of Wedding World, go to

    See you at the end of the aisle,

  • 8/21


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  • 7/17

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  • 6/5

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