DIY wedding receptions

by Lesley
(UK)

I have two daughters, both of whom are now happily married. Being sensible girls they wanted to keep the cost of their weddings down so we decided that we would arrange the receptions ourselves.

With both girls we started with a guest list. First the family, then the special friends and their workmates. We had to reduce the list a bit for my eldest daughter, we started off with about 400 on the list! Eventually we got that down to about 240.

Then we had to find a venue. My son-in-law went to the comprehensive school in his home town and we were fortunate enough to be able to hire the school hall. There was a very nicely equipped kitchen with lots of fridges and serving space. We were able to use the canteen tables too and being a school there were plenty of chairs.

We used proper tablecloths to hide the very basic tables. First plain white cloths went from one end of the table to the other. Then we put smaller square red paper cloths in a diamond pattern to pretty it up and fit with the overall wedding colour scheme.

After the wedding I sold the tablecloths to another bride who was arranging her own wedding reception.

My younger daughter has a less extensive circle of friends than her sister so we used a local village hall for her reception for about 175 people. It's a hall that we've used many times before and again is very well equipped. We hired proper tablecloths from a local catering company and again that saved lots of work because they went to the laundry when we'd finished with them.

We borrowed wine glasses from the local supermarket chain for both receptions and for my eldest daughter we hired cutlery and crockery for the day. That was excellent because we didn't have to wash any of it up, just rinse it off. The hire company took care of the washing up which was a great time saver.

For the food we asked people to bring things. I had a list of what we needed and I shared it out around the guests. People made all kinds of things and we ended up with a wonderful buffet.

A friend of mine gave me a basic formula to work out the quantities. The "average" person will eat three sandwiches and two slices of cake. Based on that formula we worked out quantities for sweet and savoury food.

I didn't want to spend too much time clearing up at the end so we stuck to what you might call finger foods. Things that don't necessarily need cutlery to eat. So, slices of pizza, sandwiches, quiche, rolls, vegetable sticks with dips, sausage rolls, mini pasties and things like that. Tasty little snack type things that are easy to make, easy to divide into portions and don't cost a lot to make.

For sweet things we had big cakes cut into slices and smaller cupcakes, chocolate brownies, meringues, and biscuits.

Anyone who didn't want to bake could buy potato crisps, biscuits or drinks.

At the end of the day we kept the cost down, everyone had a share, there was plenty to eat, not too much left over and we had two very happy days with lots of good memories.

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