Skip to main content

Budget Bride V: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Potlucks are a classic loaves-and-fishes trick to feeding lots of people on a budget, though buffet-style meals are, for sad reasons, quickly going out of fashion in the 2020s. Cue the food trucks! Food trucks can be a great alternative to a buffet because they're mobile, they can serve personally customized meals on-demand, and they come at a variety of price points. "Healthy" food doesn't just mean fiber and vegetables or avoiding fat and sugar. (What fun is that at a wedding anyway?) "Healthy" can also refer to safety from contamination. Plagues and food poisoning can really poop on a party, so I'd err on the side of hot, made-fresh, even fried foods. It's a special occasion, after all! 

Heavily spiced foods also lend safety in feeding large numbers of people due to the antimicrobial properties of many herbs and spices. Complex, bold dishes can offer a balance of special-night flair, comfort, safety, nutrition, and price. Check out your local Latin American, Asian, and African family-owned, small restaurants for exciting meal choices at a great value. My finest moments in arranging catering for events have involved two new, small businesses run by immigrants from Mexico and Lebanon.

Skip the elaborate fruit sculptures and pretentious plating. You don't want your guests to spend more time taking photos of their dinner than shoveling it down their gullets. Post-pandemic, it's all about sharing real-life experiences with real-life companions in real time. Whatever you choose, make it a spread that invites your guests to...

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Treat yourself and your guests to a decadent feast at your reception. You can be a gracious hostess and still save money for your honeymoon.


First, prioritize the elements of your food and drink service that are most important to you. Do you have your heart set on a catered meal, or would you be happy with a buffet that your guests can browse themselves? Do you have great cooks in your family or social circle who could contribute to an excellent potluck spread? Are you dreaming of a fanciful cake, or will you take a whimsical, less traditional approach to dessert? Is it important to serve alcohol at your reception?


Nobody really cares about your place settings or centerpieces; it's the edibles on the table that matter. I get tummy aches when I have to go too long without eating (and people with conditions such as diabetes can be put at serious risk by going without food and water), so I wanted to make sure a variety of refreshments were available at all times. Before the ceremony even began, we had a simple snack table set out with pitchers of water, nuts, and fresh fruit. This kept the wedding party and organizers, as well as the guests, comfortable and cared for before dinner.


My handsome groom and I opted for a multi-faith/secular ceremony, but we were both raised Catholic. We could not conceive of a wedding reception that was not well lubricated with drink! Cash bars are tacky. So we saved money by browsing wine and beer sales for the entire year before the wedding. Each time we went grocery shopping, we perused the sale racks and gleaned a few of our favorite reasonably-priced wines and beers and stacked them in crates in a closet until the wedding day. Good wines and beers aren't always expensive. Go for taste, not waste!


The menfolks at our wedding loved the beer selection. If you bring a variety of beverages, there will be something for everyone to enjoy! We even rented a keg of PBR, which was a smash hit while remaining totally avoidable for people who found it offensive. By giving the less selective crowd what they wanted, we saved enough money to splurge on a few nice champagnes for the bridal party's table.


Our wide variety of wines had another wonderful effect: Guests were encouraged to wander through the tables in the manner of a wine tasting party to sample different selections. Everyone, young and old, mingled and sipped and got very comfortable. Even my wine connoisseur uncle loved it! He did express that one of our wines tasted like "llama piss," but he had a great time hopping from table to table popping corks. Our magical ratio amounted to about one half liter of alcohol per adult guest. This was excellent because we had very little left over, everyone who wanted to drink got toasty and jovial, and nobody got too trashed until after the party ended and they could barf in the parking lot or at home. Perfection!


We had about 100 guests, not many of them into fancy cooking, so we decided to purchase familiar foods from a local caterer. We found a very good deal on a buffet service of roast beef, vegetarian spring primavera pasta, broccoli, and rosemary potatoes. Guests could take as much or as little of each dish as they wished, and they could go back for seconds or thirds. It's easy to overbuy food for a large crowd, so go conservative on the amount and opt for a wider variety of dishes instead. You'll have less waste and more satisfaction.


Along the same lines of more variety, less bulk, we rented a cupcake stand instead of a traditional full layer cake. We were able to afford the glory of fine bakery cake and buttercream frosting, as well as a beautiful presentation, by ordering cupcakes. Also, we did not have to bother with cutting and serving slices. Guests could come and select their pleasure--each frosting flower color signifying a different cake flavor--with less fuss and more fun.

Cinzano! Opa! Bon apetit!

Comments

  1. I'm thinking my wedding theme will be "BrokeBack Bride." Because when you give into the Wedding Industrial Complex you are bound to take it in the rear!

    Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week. Tip your waitstaff.

    Your wedding was the most fun wedding I've attended and I drank plenty of wine... plenty.

    I saw on Cakewrecks the other day that someone had a cake that was a real cake made to look like a stack of pancakes. That is an idea as well...

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be: You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")    35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't

Diversity, Get In My Belly!

Diversity is good! That’s common sense, right? Human physical and cultural diversity is good for developing kids' social skills and self-esteem, good for the workplace, and important in media representation. Diversification is desirable in financial investment portfolios and income streams. Diverse perspectives are good for education, arts, and entertainment. Diverse experiences in life are cool. Expanding the diversity of one's own life skills is useful. Natural diversity of flora and fauna is good for healthy ecosystems.  Inside the human body, diversity is good for the microbiome of our guts.  Diversity!  It's great in the world, in the wild, and inside of our own minds and bodies. So why do so many people think that exclusionary food diets are beneficial? And who am I to judge them? Hello, I'm a lifelong slim person who has never had a chronic condition related to body weight or an eating disorder. I don't think that there is anything magical or genetically frea

It's BEAN a Long Time

The days are lengthening, and hope is returning to humankind! I feel like starting something new--something that will complement the slow, gradual fade-out of the pandemic rather than put me and my family at premature risk. Instead of making travel plans or even party plans beyond distant daydreams, I'm confidently moving ahead on plans to grow a new and improved vegetable garden this spring. I'll use compost and wisdom that I've collected over the past 15 years on the ol' homestead, and I'll re-start my veggie garden using a mix of tried-and-true and new techniques. Over the years, I've learned which edible plants grow best on my suburban Michigan property: beans, peas, corn, cabbage, onions, garlic, sunflowers, potatoes, tomatoes. This year, I'll continue tending to my fruit and nut trees and only plant a few seasonal veggies that I can trust to thrive--unless a fun opportunity comes along, like when someone gives me a plant as a gift or my daughter brings

Budget Bride VI: Party Like an Immigrant

One thing I'm loving about the 2020s is that all of a sudden, Black Lives Matter has gone mainstream, our government representation suddenly has become more diverse, and there has been a seismic cultural shift toward celebrating racial and cultural diversity rather than suppressing it. We are a proud, colorful people! Look around you at those you plan to invite to your wedding. What family traditions would you like to uphold, revive, or remix to celebrate the union of you and your beloved and all the people who made each of you who you are? For a wedding that is rich in tradition yet affordable, both meaningful and joyful, look for the immigrants ! Party Like an Immigrant Budget bride s, now is the time to look deep into your cultural heritage for wedding inspiration and soul. America is a great big progressive potluck, and so are most of our families. Search through your own ingredients to find spice and flavor for your ceremony and reception. Got any Jews in the family? Big Fa

International and Time "Traveling" on the Silver Screen

As the pandemic marches on, one of my favorite ways to escape the feeling of cabin fever safely (and without spending any money!) is to "travel" to different countries and time periods through the magic of historical and international films. I use my library card to access the Hoopla streaming service, which is similar to the Kanopy service offered by some other library branches. Check with your local library about free film streaming services you can access, and then sign in on your laptop, smart TV, Roku, Fire stick, or outdoor projector if you live someplace warm!  If you find that your appetite for international films surpasses what these free services can satiate, here is a list of the 10 best streaming services for international content .  I live in Michigan, which is currently in a beautiful polar vortex, so I fit my movie watching time into the early morning hours before dawn (seriously, one of my favorite ways to wake up, with a hot cup of coffee) and after dusk. Ado

Budget Bride VII: The Magic Words

The words of a marriage ceremony describe what is happening ("Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today...") and how it's going to work (the vows). My husband and I, like most Europeans and an increasing number of Americans, had two marriage ceremonies, a legal process at the county courthouse and then a spiritual/social wedding celebration. We got the contractual issues buttoned up at our legal ceremony, so we felt free to be more creative on our big wedding day. Instead of repeating our courthouse vows or writing additional vows, we decided to express why we had already committed the rest of our lives to each other. We used English-translated passages by Spanish poet Pablo Neruda to illustrate the story of our relationship leading up to the joyous celebration of our union in the springtime of the year and of our life together. The Magic Words Love is free. So is expressing it in words. All brides, regardless of budget , can bring beauty, uniqueness, and meaning to

Own Your Sads and Your Glads

All human beings have complex emotions, especially in complicated times. At this moment, we all have things we are sad about and things we are glad about. Every emotion tells us something true--but not everything that is true. There is healing and wisdom to be found in embracing our emotional complexity exactly as it is, not dramatizing, romanticizing, or wallowing in our mood swings and also not repressing ourselves. We don't have to feel guilty about our positive feelings when bad things happen, and we don't have to feel guilty about our negative feelings just because somebody else in the world has it worse.  Instead, we can practice gratitude for all the lessons our feelings teach us about what we need to do and how to make it happen. This peak pandemic winter (with the spring just weeks away), I am learning how to pay better attention to the full spectrum of my emotional responses to life so that I can accept the truths they bring me and the tools they provide me to care fo

Budget Bride VIII: Let the Good Times All Roll Out

My favorite kind of wedding is a joyful wedding. Who cares how pretty the pictures are if the day wasn't any fun? Perfectionism is a big old party pooper. Don't invite it. Instead, minimize fuss and maximize fun. Design your day so that the tasks requiring order and focus (such as formal portraits) come first and aren't too complicated, and build lots of flex time into the schedule so that the unexpected can be handled gracefully and everyone has time to actually enjoy being there, in each other's company. Put some laughs and silly surprises into the reception to signal to your guests when it's time to loosen belts and ties, kick off high heels, and hike up those bustles. You want to create a mood transition between the reverent ceremony and the raging celebration. My wedding day began with elegant, well-rehearsed precision accompanied by live cello and ended with unexpected combinations of people making out in an elevator to gay dance music. That's #goals! If y

Budget Bride III: Location, Location, Location

Today's Budget Bride post affirms that a wedding isn't just about providing a cool photo backdrop for the star couple. The location and venue create the environment that shapes the whole experience. Location determines who can attend, how much and what kinds of fun everyone can have, and how everyone feels throughout the ceremony and reception. In addition to accessibility, aesthetics, and amenities offered at the site, there's also the general aura the place gives off. Is the site associated with historic events? Legendary romance? Is there anything ugly associated with it, like bigoted owners who refuse to support unions between people who are not of their preferred race or gender combinations? If your guests can possibly know the answers to those questions, your choice of venue will send a message that includes the values associated with it. A blank slate is just fine, but take care to avoid obvious stinkers like gay-hating orchards and slavery-stained plantations (that