A Homey Budget Wedding Meal for 120: The Menu

Homemade Weddings

I recently mentioned that I'm catering my brother's wedding, a homey winter meal for about 120 people. Well, it's this weekend, and it's fast approaching, so I finally nailed down the details. Here's a look at what I'm planning, with a menu and the setup. Tomorrow I'll share the plan for actually executing and getting it all done!

The whole concept for this wedding meal is that of a homey winter dinner shared among family and friends, with platters passed at the tables. It's not trying to be overtly fancy or impressive — just delicious wintertime food that suits everyone.

The Venue

My brother and his fiancé are getting married at a local church, one which much of our family attends. It feels very all-in-the-family this way, as I know this venue well and all of the people involved are very supportive and generous. I always think that, by far, the most important aspect of throwing a big event is choosing the right venue. The church is providing tables, chairs, table linens, dishes, flatware, and glassware. (This is so helpful!)

The church has a decently equipped kitchen adjoining the hall where the reception dinner will be. It has a large refrigerator and floor-to-ceiling freezer. The range, however, is comprised of just a very basic electric stovetop and oven. I really wish there was an extra oven.

The Schedule

The wedding ceremony is early in the day, and it will be followed immediately by a cake and punch reception (which I have nothing to do with, thank goodness!) for about 300 people. Then the wedding party will go off to take pictures, family members will put up their feet for a couple hours at the hotel, and after that everyone will come back to the church for dinner.

So I have a substantial amount of time in the middle of the day to finish off the meal.

The Budget

Miniscule. Tiny. Joking aside, the budget is small but also, I think, similar to the kind of budget many people have when they're doing their own wedding catering.

I have about $650 to spend on the food itself, not including the serving dishes, paper products, and other peripheral things. (Much of this will be provided by the church, which is why, again, getting a venue with a lot of extras included is so incredibly helpful.) I am not sure yet how well I will stick to this budget; I am planning on kicking in a little of my own money as a gift to my brother. It's always hard to know exactly what will be spent on groceries ahead of time, but this is the planned budget so far.

The Menu

OK, ready for the menu? Here's what I'm planning.

A Homemade Wedding Dinner Menu for 120 People

Pre-dinner snacks
• Homemade White Cheddar & Rosemary Crackers
• Roasted Herbed Almonds

To drink
• Citrus & Rosemary Spritzer
• Water with citrus slices

Dinner
• Roasted Chicken Thighs with Bacon & Parsley
• Braised White Beans with Rosemary & Tomato
• Potato Dough Rolls & Whipped Salted Butter
• Lemon-Dijon Slaw

Dessert
• Butterscotch Pudding with Whipped Cream
• Cookie Platter of Butter Sablés & Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunkers

The menu is largely gluten-free, aside from the rolls and crackers, since there are several gluten-free guests.

I'd love to throw in a third pre-dinner snack — ideally something with a different texture than the crackers and almonds. And I wish I would have the time and space to do a second vegetable, something cooked. But I don't think it will be practical.

I should also mention that this whole menu will be served family-style. The chicken and beans will come out on platters and bowls to about 15 tables, and people can pass and serve themselves.

How Does It All Work?

So of course the next question is — how will I get all this done? How will the food be cooked in such quantities, and be presented hot and on time? That's the subject of tomorrow's post: The Plan!

More on Catering a Wedding

Practical Advice for Self-Catering Your Wedding
Catering Your Own Wedding: A Step-by-Step Guide
Do You Have Any Advice for Catering My Own Wedding?

(Image: My friend Michelle, from my own wedding)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.