My partner and I knew that we’d have to do the majority of labor ourselves in order to afford our wedding. In addition to invitations, decorations, and dress alterations, it meant that we would cook the food for dinner, dessert, and brunch.
When people heard that we were cooking the food for our 100+ person wedding, they told us that it couldn’t be done and that we should just have it professionally catered. I ran the numbers on all options: self-cooking, cafe/grocery store catering, and professional catering companies. When our total budget had to be under 6k, having food professionally catered was not an option. Additionally, I was working with many food restrictions. Instead of preparing individual meals, I made sure that all dinner and brunch items were gluten, dairy, and salt free and that most were vegan-friendly. Desserts were appropriately labeled so that folks with food restrictions knew what they could eat.
We had our wedding in early September in New Hampshire and, since it was still really warm, we decided that a cold menu was a feasible option.
Our dinner menu:
- Stuffed green peppers with lentils, tomato, and summer squash
- Rice and beans
- Peach salsa
Our dessert menu:
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Whoopie pies
Our brunch menu:
- Muffins (blueberry, corn)
Much like other details in our wedding, I put a lot of thought into our food sources. We regularly visited a farmer’s market in Boston. In July, we talked to our favorite vendors about our needs and they were able to give us a great deal and were thrilled to be a part of our event. The rest of the ingredients we sourced from local farms and grocery stores in New Hampshire.
The muffins and cupcakes I made in the weeks leading up to the wedding and I learned that my freezer can hold over 300 muffins and cupcakes. One week before the wedding, we collected all the meat and produce and invited friends to a giant cooking weekend at my mom’s house. For three days, we soaked black beans and then cooked the lentils, black beans, rice, and chicken. These items were packaged and stored in about 5 different freezers around town. The day before the wedding, we chopped the summer squash, tomatoes, and peaches. We mixed the lentils, tomatoes, and squash together to make the filling for the peppers and then tomatoes and peaches together to make salsa.
On the morning of the wedding, I woke up early to slice all the peppers in half so they could be stuffed. When the wedding party woke up, they were shocked to see the 75 or so peppers that I had to prepare. One of my favorite photos is all of us in the kitchen slicing peppers and laughing.
We had hired some of my younger sister’s friends for the day to assist with putting food out, refilling treys, and facilitating the switch between dinner and dessert. It was great money for them and it was a money saver for us.
It was hard work to factor the amount of ingredients needed, to cook the food, and to have it all brought to the venue. However, it meant that we had even more time with friends and family leading up to the event. The wedding, as special as it was, was a single day. The process and the prep work was a full year and included just as many magical and loving memories.
By Stacey Lantz