Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Caterers....the bane of my existence...

Hey pretty ladies!  I have been quite busy/crazed/accomplished over the last month of wedding planning.  I've managed to:
- finalize the save the dates (and their ugly stamps)
- pick out the bridesmaid's dresses, shoes, and gifts
- purchase the flower girl dresses, jewelry, and gifts
- pick out wedding invitations (more on those later...I'm totally in love with what I chose!) including my thank you notes
- pick out flowers (more on that later as well...I'm going to let you in on a secret to saving some major moo-lah)...and still have peonies.
However, I have one big snag in the planning.  I have no food.  That's right, I haven't signed a contract with a caterer and at this point I don't plan to.

I'm sure that some of you readers just gasped and I don't blame you.  Before you fall out of your chair, let me reassure you that I plan on having something (and a whole lot of something) to offer my guests.  I'm just not using a caterer.
When I first started planning this wedding, I read all the reviews for the caterers in the Roanoke area and I contacted a few to get preliminary proposals.  I have done a little bit of event planning through my sorority days, so I'm familiar with food costs and contracting and I know it's not cheap.  However, what I wasn't prepared for was the almost $1,000 fee to provide real china and glassware for 125 guests.  Staring at the total of about $7,000 for heavy appetizers and no booze pained my Posh Purpose heart...especially when our expected guest count grew to 150 people.  This seemed to be about average across the board and switching to disposable china and glassware would only have cut the bill about $500.

I've also never been crazy about wedding dinners to begin with...it's usually a lot of overcooked meat and starchy carbs.  I've only been to one wedding with dinner, exactly one, where everything I ate was wonderful.  The thought of spending that much money on (potentially) icky food was not appealing.  So, we started looking into other options.  I knew that I wanted to have dancing and from past bridesmaid experience, I knew I wanted all day to get ready.  That meant that brunches, lunches, and teas were going to be out.  Briana had brought up the idea of an elegant dessert party to me a couple of times...and one day it just clicked.  I love dessert, it's very elegant, and easy.  It's also very pretty to look at on a buffet table and I drool every time I check out Amy Atlas stuff on the web. 

Mr. 3 was behind it from the beginning and so we started looking into it.  I knew that we would need to offer some savory items and things like fruit so that 1) the men folk didn't riot and 2) the elderly didn't go into diabetic comas.

We took a few things into consideration...mainly that we needed to have the ceremony and reception at a time when dinner wouldn't be expected and that we needed to let people know on the reception card included in the invitation that we would be having "savories, desserts, and dancing", as my mama put it.  So we included this information in our invitation and we settled on 7 PM for the ceremony with the reception starting around 8 PM.  We are having a live band, which I have always wanted, as well as wine, beer, champagne, and possibly mojitos as our signature drink.  Which means we shouldn't have any problem keeping the party going until 12 AM!

I started working on the menu and where we could source all of our food (this is NOT a 100% DIY affair...I'd like to hold on to my sanity and my hair).  I knew I would need a wedding coordinator, so I interviewed two ladies on the phone.  One lady tried to talk me back into having a boring buffet dinner, but my second lady was behind the idea from the start!  I signed a contract with Vicki Itson from Events by Simplicity and she has been such a help!

I still thought...maybe there is a chance that we could find a caterer to provide this type of food, so I went back to the list and contacted the caterers in the area.  What a waste of time. 

They either didn't call me back or they still wanted $5,500 for dessert and essentially tea sandwiches served on plastic disposables.  My final breaking point was when I took the time to meet with a caterer in person while visiting Roanoke and a month passed without them even bothering to put together a proposal. (Side Note: The economy must not be as bad as everyone on the news says, because I have NEVER had this much trouble getting people to take $.)

So, I'm coming up with my own menu and sourcing it from local restaurants, Sam's Club/Costco, and family contributions.  It's still a work in progress, but I'm very excited about self catering my wedding because I know that everything will taste great, look beautiful, and my Posh Purpose heart won't feel like we were robbed by a bunch of caterer bandits.

I'll keep you posted on the menu, details, quantities, and all the other nitty gritty as the weeks go on!  Wedding planning is picking up speed, but I'll keep posting as I go!

What things are you doing to save $ or offer something different and fun?  Do you have any suggestions for me?