When Heather Augustine decided to cater her own wedding, it was a matter of dollars and cents.
The 27-year-old bride-to-be had trimmed her guest list to 500 and, allowing $20 per person (an estimated cost of a hotel reception for dinner and room rental only), she figured her expenses would be an amount usually reserved for a down payment on a home.There was no one she could eliminate from the list. She would just have to hope everyone invited wouldn't attend.
"What now?" she thought.
She had, on occasion, helped out as a waitress at a friend's catering business. And, there were those lavish parties she used to give for friends and relatives on Christmas and the Fourth of July. But carrying around trays of hors d'oeuvres and champagne or making nibbles to serve party-goers could not compare to the massive wedding reception undertaking she had committed to on this occasion.
How did she finally manage to feed 1,000 hungry wedding reception guests? Well, she was, in fact, so successful that she started her own catering business, the Rolling Gourmet, which accommodates everything from intimate champagne dinners for two to children's parties in the park and major sporting events in Los Angeles.
She offered the following suggestions for those who do want to prepare the food for their own wedding reception.
-Avoid hors d'oeuvres and finger sandwich foods because they are too tedious. Opt for bulky things that will satisfy.
-Always have a buffet with servers to control portions. Never have passed hors d'oeuvres, French service or a sit-down dinner, not with that many people.
-Servers can be friends or relatives, but only if they are reliable. Professional servers are salaried, so their job is to serve the portions you request. This is more economical because portion control saves money.
-Rent holloware, linens, tables and chairs, lights, canopy, dance floor, champagne fountains for punch and bars. Many companies offer payment plans that make budgeting easy.
-Substitute good quality, heavy-duty plastic and pretty paper products for dinnerware, stemware and linens, if a budget does not allow rentals.
-Have plenty of seats.