Why Hosting a Self-Catered Wedding May Be the Best Decision You Ever Make

The first wedding I ever attended was for my cousin, and it was held in the backyard of her childhood home. It was a perfect wedding—intimate and sweet—but the thing I remember most vividly is something I've never seen again since. With 45 minutes before the ceremony was set to start, there was the bride with an apron over her wedding dress carting out serving trays full of home-cooked food from the kitchen. Her sisters had to drag her away from the stove to finish doing her hair, and she kept smudging her lipstick on tasting spoons. 
Now, it might seem incredibly overwhelming to think about cooking for your entire guest list; I know that my respect for my cousin skyrocketed when I saw her doing it all—literaly all. But there are plenty of reasons you might want to feature some home cooking on your special day. 
Whether you’ve been dreaming about cooking for your wedding forever or you’ve never even considered it, here are some reasons why we think having a home-cooked wedding is the way to go.

Save money

For very practical reasons, let’s talk about money. Weddings are expensive to plan and put on, and caterers are very easily a huge part of your expense. Cooking for yourself can definitely help you trim down those dollar signs. However, just because you’re not hiring someone means that you don’t need to budget! Having a plan is a crucial part of any DIY process, especially regarding food. What you save in money, you'll have to make up for in effort.

Get others involved

Having a home-cooked wedding does not mean that you have to do all of the cooking yourself! If you like the idea of having home-cooked food but don’t have the time (or the skills) to take on this task yourself, make your wedding a potluck! Family and friends can bring their favorite recipes to share, and you’ll have endless options to keep the party going all night long. 

Be inclusive in your choices

Dietary restrictions are a very real roadblock in any sort of menu planning situation. More options usually mean extra catering confusion and sometimes even extra costs. If you know that a large percentage of your guests have varying dietary restrictions, it honestly may be simpler to take over some of the cooking responsibilities. That way, you know that everyone will be taken care of, and you can crowdsource and provide the food they really want.

Share your traditions

Perhaps you and your partner cook a lot. Or maybe you and your grandmother used to always bake this certain kind of cookie together. Food carries a certain kind of intimate connection with it, and allowing others to try your food can invite people into your life and the start of your marriage. Cooking for your wedding might be a perfect way to share pieces of your life that might be normally kept quite personal. 

Calm your nerves!

Now, this might not be true for all people, but for those of us who might be called “control freaks,” it can be really overwhelming to think about turning everything over to other people. If cooking is something that you enjoy and wedding planning is not, having something to look forward to on your wedding day (besides the ceremony itself, of course) might be a helpful distraction. Make sure to pick something that you will truly enjoy, otherwise this tactic won’t work!

Highlight your passions

Speaking of enjoying yourself, you may genuinely get a lot of joy from cooking for other people. Hiring a caterer is definitely something that is pretty expected, at least currently, in American wedding culture, but if you feel like it’s not for you, trust your instincts! Everyone has different joys and passions, and your wedding will feel much more authentic if you are given the opportunity to highlight what makes you you. If that’s food, then cooking for your own wedding might be the perfect way to make the day unforgettable for you and your guests.  

Limit external players

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, those couples who are still moving forward with wedding planning are desperately trying to find ways to trim the number of people who need to be involved with ceremony day. However, even outside of the pandemic, there are a lot of moving parts under the “food and drink” umbrella of wedding planning, from caterers and waitstaff to bartenders to bakers. If you feel inspired to, maybe take just one piece for yourself. This couple pictured here decided to have their friends bake their wedding cake, and we think it came out so cute!
Cooking for your own wedding may not be for everyone, but hopefully, these tips gave you the ability to see this as an achievable and attainable alternative to the fully-catered route. And just remember, as Charles M. Schulz, the creator and cartoonist of Peanuts, once said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Happy cooking, Loverlies!