Broke-Ass Tag: wedding food


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,

  • 1/8

    Real Bride Elissa: Catering to My Love of Food

    Food is very, very important to me in my everyday life. When I say things like “I love to travel!” it’s really because I love to try new food. When I say “Let’s go do something!” it usually means “Let’s go out to eat!” Because of this, I knew going into wedding planning that finding the perfect caterer was going to be a tall order. While all-inclusive venues are sometimes a better deal, in the long run, we knew we wanted flexibility with our menu. Then, the many venues that don’t require you to use their caterer still need caterers to be licensed and bonded by the city (understandably), but that rules out bringing ANY food of your own. One of my bridesmaids happens to be an amazing cake-baker, and we have a friend who makes the best stuffed mushrooms in the world, so we really lucked out finding a venue that didn’t have many rules regarding food.

    Once ALL the choices were opened up to me, though, the search became a little overwhelming. At first I found a caterer whose food sounded amazing and was right at our budget. However, newbie wedding planner that I was, I forgot to factor in servers, tax, and gratuity. And that’s in addition to renting plates, silverware, and table linens! The out-the-door price doubled, and that caterer was off the list. Next I got a recommendation from some friends who had just booked their caterer, and who raved about how the company was both delicious and reasonable. This was the vendor who, as I mentioned in my first post, told me to come back when I found more money. So, no. MY BUDGET IS ENOUGH.

    I reached out to a few of my favorite local restaurants. One came in right at budget, and I called my fiancé in joy. But (and there’s always a but), as I read through the menu in detail, I realized that for all the money we were paying them, they were only serving us four passed appetizers for two hours – not the big family dinner we wanted. The other restaurants were just way too much; at one point I calculated that if we could take everyone to dinner AT the restaurant, and all 80 guests ordered their very own appetizer, entrée, and drinks, with tax and tip, it would still be less than the catering department was charging for one, portioned buffet plate. That just felt wrong.

    Finally, after months of searching, I found what seems to be the ideal caterer. They are perfectly within budget, service included with no extra fees, have worked with our venue before, and are even located a mile away from the venue. The food, BBQ, is perfect for us, too – both from the Mid-West/South, our second official date was to a BBQ restaurant, and we consider ourselves BBQ connoisseurs. Here is the but, though: they refuse to do a tasting, as the food preparation is so labor intensive, and are asking us just to trust that their food is delicious. Catering is the owner’s passion and hobby, not his full-time business, so what’s it to him if we don’t want to hire him? The Yelp reviews back up his claim that the food is amazing, but since BBQ is so close to our hearts, we do have some ideas about what we like and how it should taste. Plus, it is incredibly nerve-racking to put down a few grand on something I’ve only seen in photos.

    Another of my bridesmaids didn’t get the chance to taste the food at her venue before the big day, and guests are still raving about it.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts, too, fellow BABs! Should we take a leap of faith and be done with it, or go back to the drawing board?

    Elissa Stooker
  • 10/24

    Dear Liz, How to do your own food (with a bit of help from willing friends/family) for your reception??? Food item suggestions and logistical tips especially! Signed, Self-Serving Dear Self-Serving, Funny thing is, I  talked to someone this morning who catered his own wedding, and he did not have fun with that.  Logistically, it's a nightmare. You have to buy the food (for 100 people),…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    Image courtesy of Simone Dear Heather, How much time should I plan for the receiving line immediately after the ceremony if there are about 80 guests? I really don't know how to ballpark this. Thanks! Stacy Dear Stacy, A general rule of receiving lines is about 20 seconds per guest, so yours should take less than a half-hour. However, there are definitely alternatives to doing…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    Frances Thank You Card from Fab

    Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what's up! Frances Thank You Cards, $16 for 8 at Fab Hey Liz, We got married in August and have not had a chance to send out our thank you cards. We traveled until the end of September, my father in law died in October, then amongst the holidays, we started the…

    Read the full article →
  • 12/5

    I'm about to tell you something you might find shocking.  But hold onto your hats, because our wedding is going to be a....MEAT FREE ZONE! That's right folks!  I am a longtime vegetarian and Zach rarely eats meat nowadays.  So we won't be serving anything that used to breathe and have eyeballs at our wedding.  I think a lot of our non-vegetarian friends and family…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    Reader Request! My name is Alicia and I am 20 years old. All my hopes of a wedding were lost until I found this website. Since I am a full-time student and my part-time worker funds are EXTREMELY limited, so the budget would be about $1000-$3000. I DEFINITELY qualify as a BROKEA**. The colors will be hot pink, bright yellow, and a bright orange. I…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    Many thanks to Kerri, a local bride who generously gave me 15 dozen mason jars yesterday, left over from her wedding last weekend! Since our ceremony will be outdoors in May, we thought it would be a nice touch to serve a refreshing beverage beforehand. However, renting 150 glasses for a 30 minute ceremony seemed a touch excessive, and getting disposables goes against our "Carbon…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!
  • 7/15

    As foodies, it is really important that the food be a reflection of our taste, and surprise and delight our guests with its tastiness. That’s why we were so excited to have our expectations exceeded by the Bungalow Club’s delicious“middle-terranean” cuisine (thats Middle Eastern/Mediterranean fusion, yo.). Its even got a hint of Japan here and there. Perfect for our eclectic asses! During each meeting with…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!