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Potluck at wedding?

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luvthemstrawberries

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After reading Deco''s thread (https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/incredible-3k-wedding-for-175pp.109505/ - what a cool wedding!!) and looking through all the links on that website with the pictures and the bride''s descriptions of the day, it got me thinking. I haven''t started the meat of my planning yet, and this sort of idea is so "us."

I just wanted yall''s opinion on the meal portion. They did a potluck where everybody brought a dish. This was my and FI''s original idea - except we wanted to add our favorite indulgences (Papa John''s pizza and ChickFilA nuggets) to the mix.
I love the idea of everybody being comfortable and the entire event being so laid back. But I''ve also read so many times on here that it''s rude to ask guests to pay for anything at a wedding that you''re inviting them to - that they should just show up. My family does potlucks for all of our holidays and get togethers though, so most of my guests would be used to how it works. I just don''t know if it''s rude to ask them to do this at a wedding, based on "etiquette." Now, I will tell you that most of my family/friends have no idea about this sort of etiquette - between Southern hick family members, and my friend''s wedding 2 summers ago with the cash bar... I just know. Only a few will possibly find it "offensive" - and they can just deal, honestly.


But I just wanted your guys'' opinions on if it would really fly. We don''t plan on inviting hundreds of people - probably around 100 when all is said and done. But I''ve always said I just wanted my wedding to be like a big family reunion, just with a wedding also... which is why it''s interesting how the bride in the story coined their wedding as "a potluck and a wedding" - exactly what I was trying to get to. I don''t think my family would mind, but I just don''t know if it would fly, and if it would be something that required coordination of food or just more of a "bring whatever" type thing and let it fly.

So what do you think - would you just be excited to bring a dish to a laid-back wedding... or would you think about how it''s not how it should be done, according technically to etiquette?
 

elrohwen

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I think it''s a really cool idea! Maybe you could ask just certain guests to bring dishes? I''m sure there are a certain few who would be really excited about it and others who would want to just show up and eat. With maybe 10-20 excited guests you could have a great meal! And it would be easier to control a small number of people so that you know what they''re bringing and how much of it they need.

My future cousin-in-law had a potluck dessert table at her wedding and it was a huge hit. Considering how bad the buffet was, I wish they had done that potluck style too
 

mintve

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wow, what a neat idea. And ym..papa johns and chick fil A!!

I am not sure how it would work. Can you do a potluck for the rehearsal dinner? Then for the actual wedding, have laid back comfort foods like the Chcik-fil a, papa johns, BBQ, mac n cheese?

Ok, I must stop thinking about food, I am starving :)
 

neatfreak

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I think if it is TRULY a laid back wedding with a low budget it is a fabulous idea. I don''t think it''s a great idea if the couple is thinking of it as a way for the guests to pay for the food ya know? Like if the B&G spent tons of money on everything and THEN asked that it be potluck, it''d be a bit weird.
 

sammyj

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I love the idea of a casual, laidback wedding, but as a guest who is not a great cook and is asked to bring a dish, I would be concerned with making something to ''wedding standards.'' If I were in your position, I would be more inclined to ask close family members and known cooks/chefs to bring a dish as they''d probably be more comfortable with it, and then leave the option to bring something to the other guests.

As B&G, I would say that that it''s your responsibility to select/provide the main course being that it''s YOUR wedding and you should eat your favourite meal! Pizza and chicken nuggets sound yummy!
 

luvthemstrawberries

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:42:06 PM
Author: neatfreak
I think if it is TRULY a laid back wedding with a low budget it is a fabulous idea. I don''t think it''s a great idea if the couple is thinking of it as a way for the guests to pay for the food ya know? Like if the B&G spent tons of money on everything and THEN asked that it be potluck, it''d be a bit weird.
Good point - thanks neatfreak. I''m definitely trying to do it low budget. My parents have offered to foot the bill, but my brother''s still in college, and my dad and mom work really hard for everything we''ve ever had growing up. If it was up to me and FI to pay, we''d have to just elope, because we couldn''t afford anything special. But I have a really, really hard time imagining myself asking my dad to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for a DAY. Yes, it''s a special day, but to us, money doesn''t make it special - it''s who''s there, the love and support that surround you, and, most importantly, the committment we''re making. Sure, there''s a tiny selfish side of me that wants the attention and my time in the limelight. But we''re a pretty frugal and clever couple and family, so I think there are so many special touches we can put on the day to make it magical and more unique than "any other day," without spending lots of money.

Haha, so the short version is that you made reminded me of a good point. I certainly wouldn''t do this if we had it at some lavish place and had expensive flowers scattered all over the place. But if we do like I really want and can find a great, unique, low-budget venue, then our decorations will be unique and minimal. I think it wouldn''t look expensive at all.
 

strmrdr

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They are very common here.
Usually the meat, cake and punch will be provided and the rest is brought by the guests.
It is my favorite type of social dinner because it is way kewl to try all the different dishes.
I grew up with a potluck of one kind or another happening every 2 weeks or so usually at Church for one occasion or another.
All of our family gatherings were usually potlucks also.
 

luvthemstrawberries

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:38:55 PM
Author: elrohwen
I think it''s a really cool idea! Maybe you could ask just certain guests to bring dishes? I''m sure there are a certain few who would be really excited about it and others who would want to just show up and eat. With maybe 10-20 excited guests you could have a great meal! And it would be easier to control a small number of people so that you know what they''re bringing and how much of it they need.

My future cousin-in-law had a potluck dessert table at her wedding and it was a huge hit. Considering how bad the buffet was, I wish they had done that potluck style too
Haha, good point! I didn''t think how silly it probably sounded to ask ~100 people to each bring a dish!
Yeah and there are ones that wouldn''t want to participate, so I could zero in on the ones that would (and that I love their dishes!!!!
).

Potluck dessert sounds AWESOME! So did she not have a "wedding cake" then?
 

luvthemstrawberries

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:41:39 PM
Author: mintve
wow, what a neat idea. And ym..papa johns and chick fil A!!

I am not sure how it would work. Can you do a potluck for the rehearsal dinner? Then for the actual wedding, have laid back comfort foods like the Chcik-fil a, papa johns, BBQ, mac n cheese?

Ok, I must stop thinking about food, I am starving :)
Ah, I see... so they could bring food for the rehearsal, but then we''d take care of the actual wedding food, so there''s less people coordination... good idea! And especially good to add the mac and cheese and BBQ... we are pig pickin lovers!!!!
 

Clairitek

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I mentioned in Deco''s thread that my family has attended a wedding like the one in the article. Everyone brought a family favorite dish or two. I''ve hosted many potlucks in the last few years and they always turns out so well! I personally love tasting all the different dishes that are family favorites for your guests.

The only issue I could see is for OOT guests. It might not be easy for them to get into a kitchen to make you something so you might not be able to expect much more than a store bought veggie platter from them.

I do understand where you''re coming from by thinking some might be offended by having to contribute financially to your wedding but bringing one dish to serve 6-8 people is a drop in the bucket! You''ll be providing a lovely venue for a party and family gathering.
 

luvthemstrawberries

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:51:08 PM
Author: sammyj
I love the idea of a casual, laidback wedding, but as a guest who is not a great cook and is asked to bring a dish, I would be concerned with making something to ''wedding standards.'' If I were in your position, I would be more inclined to ask close family members and known cooks/chefs to bring a dish as they''d probably be more comfortable with it, and then leave the option to bring something to the other guests.

As B&G, I would say that that it''s your responsibility to select/provide the main course being that it''s YOUR wedding and you should eat your favourite meal! Pizza and chicken nuggets sound yummy!
Thanks! Good idea with the main course - I think that''s a great way to go. Would help with the coordination too. And I like the thought of recruiting a certain few and leaving the option to the rest maybe.

Haha our family get togethers are never with food to any "wedding standards" haha - it''s casseroles, vegetable dishes, cornbread, etc... hehe which is what I''d love to have hear. Something that we all know what it is and have had it before!

Pizza and chicken nuggets =
 

luvthemstrawberries

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:52:19 PM
Author: strmrdr
They are very common here.
Usually the meat, cake and punch will be provided and the rest is brought by the guests.
It is my favorite type of social dinner because it is way kewl to try all the different dishes.
I grew up with a potluck of one kind or another happening every 2 weeks or so usually at Church for one occasion or another.
All of our family gatherings were usually potlucks also.
That''s how all our family things are as well. We all have certain dishes from certain people that we always look forward to!

Haha those were my favorite Sundays growing up at church - the days we had covered dish lunches after the service!! YUM!

I like the idea of providing the meat, dessert (cake), and drinks - makes the rest easy and pretty foodproof as to what people would bring. Thanks!
 

luvthemstrawberries

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:58:40 PM
Author: Clairitek
I mentioned in Deco''s thread that my family has attended a wedding like the one in the article. Everyone brought a family favorite dish or two. I''ve hosted many potlucks in the last few years and they always turns out so well! I personally love tasting all the different dishes that are family favorites for your guests.

The only issue I could see is for OOT guests. It might not be easy for them to get into a kitchen to make you something so you might not be able to expect much more than a store bought veggie platter from them.

I do understand where you''re coming from by thinking some might be offended by having to contribute financially to your wedding but bringing one dish to serve 6-8 people is a drop in the bucket! You''ll be providing a lovely venue for a party and family gathering.
Thanks Ctek! Yeah I think we''d have to make sure it was local for some (we haven''t even set a venue/date yet). I think zeroing in on just some people would make it easier. I probably wouldn''t want to burden people that are traveling much.

Thank you for the opinion on the etiquette part too.
 

Clairitek

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:51:08 PM
Author: sammyj
I love the idea of a casual, laidback wedding, but as a guest who is not a great cook and is asked to bring a dish, I would be concerned with making something to ''wedding standards.'' If I were in your position, I would be more inclined to ask close family members and known cooks/chefs to bring a dish as they''d probably be more comfortable with it, and then leave the option to bring something to the other guests.

As B&G, I would say that that it''s your responsibility to select/provide the main course being that it''s YOUR wedding and you should eat your favourite meal! Pizza and chicken nuggets sound yummy!
I think this is a great idea, to add to the other suggestions. I especially like Strm''s idea too- you guys provide the main course meat, cake, and drinks and then people can offer up a side dish or appetizer.
 

luvthemstrawberries

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The only other issue I see is having someone to watch over the food and help set it up. I don't really have anyone I'd like to "invite" but ask them to be the setter-upper instead of being at the ceremony. Maybe hiring a wait staff or something?

Oh, and a way to keep it warm... hmmm, can you rent those warmers like they have in buffet restaurants?
 

elrohwen

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:52:56 PM
Author: luvthemstrawberries

Date: 3/11/2009 12:38:55 PM
Author: elrohwen
I think it''s a really cool idea! Maybe you could ask just certain guests to bring dishes? I''m sure there are a certain few who would be really excited about it and others who would want to just show up and eat. With maybe 10-20 excited guests you could have a great meal! And it would be easier to control a small number of people so that you know what they''re bringing and how much of it they need.

My future cousin-in-law had a potluck dessert table at her wedding and it was a huge hit. Considering how bad the buffet was, I wish they had done that potluck style too
Haha, good point! I didn''t think how silly it probably sounded to ask ~100 people to each bring a dish!
Yeah and there are ones that wouldn''t want to participate, so I could zero in on the ones that would (and that I love their dishes!!!!
).

Potluck dessert sounds AWESOME! So did she not have a ''wedding cake'' then?
I honestly don''t remember any official wedding cake. Their family is obsessed with this rum cake that a little old woman makes and sells out of her house. I think they started with that, and the idea grew to having other people bring their special desserts too. Most actually brought cake of some form or another, so you could say that had 10 wedding cakes!
 

elrohwen

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Date: 3/11/2009 1:05:43 PM
Author: luvthemstrawberries
The only other issue I see is having someone to watch over the food and help set it up. I don't really have anyone I'd like to 'invite' but ask them to be the setter-upper instead of being at the ceremony. Maybe hiring a wait staff or something?

Oh, and a way to keep it warm... hmmm, can you rent those warmers like they have in buffet restaurants?
I'm pretty sure you can buy chafing dishes with simple throw away aluminum pans. They're not as nice as typical buffet ones, but I think they're fairly inexpensive. Maybe someone else will have info about renting nice ones. It can't be too hard to find! You can rent anything these days.

As far as setting up goes ... That is a tricky one! I assume you're having the ceremony in a church and then going to your reception venue rather than having them at the same place? In that case you'd definitely need someone to be in charge. Maybe a catering company would allow you to hire some of their wait staff (not sure if they would do this since you won't be paying for their food).

ETA: I found some decent chafing dishes online for $40 each. That might be a little expensive, but maybe not! But then what would you do with them afterwards?? Sell them on Ebay?


ETA2: How much does a day of wedding planner cost? Maybe you could hire one of those to set everything up.
 

decodelighted

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The reason I loved that pot luck wedding so much might be because it reminded me a bit of my own ... *blush bright red* We had a pot luck dessert table (in addition to our stack of wedding cupcakes) ... but our "catering" was kind of piece meal. Got the BBQ & mac & cheese & pig roast from one vendor ... & bought all the drinks/ apps/ snacks/ salad makings/condiments etc ourselves. Our wedding coordinator laid out the stuff & made the salads but it was LOW TECH. The only passed apps were - heh - pigs in a blanket bought from Sam''s Club & deviled eggs. If my family (& friends really) had been local, I might have considered going all the way "pot luck" ... but in our case it seemed an unfair burden on DH''s family & friends. Most of my peeps were traveling 2-10 hrs & staying in places w/o kitchens. MIGHT have been doable but not stress-free doable. Relying on *some* guaranteed yummo professionally prepared foods worked for us.

As a *guest* ... if I was driving distance I''d be happy to contribute a dish. Most folks have a couple go-to crowd-pleasing dishes they can whip up & feel proud of. It would help to have someone coordinate so there weren''t too many apps/salads/desserts or whatever. Or duplicates of potato salad. Yanno?
 

doodle

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Would your venue be okay with it? i know that if anyone got sick from the food, you could be sued for it, so a lot of venues require that all food be provided by a licensed, insured caterer. other than that technical issue, though, i think it could work pretty well!
 

swingirl

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I must tell you about an experience I had. I went to a wedding where not all the food was pot-luck but many dishes were. One aunt made her family favorite, other relatives made theirs. Without proper food handling skills for large quantities these home cooked dishes tasted great but sent a bunch of people to the hospital and many more to spend a weekend in their bathrooms. Everyone who ate the potato salad got sick. I don't remember whether the bride and groom were affected but right after they headed out for a month long honeymoon. They apologized heavily in the thank yous but for those who ended up in the hospital it wasn't quite enough.

I think you are taking a risk serving home cooked food because you really don't know how they are prepared and what someone's kitchen habits are.

Personally I don't think it's polite to invite people to a wedding and expect them to bring their own food. Parties, yes, weddings, not so much. That means that you expect them to spend some time during the day cooking or preparing food before they get dressed, deliver it to your venue and at the end take home their dirty serving container. But if it's a tradition your family likes and practices that it might not be an issue.
 

LilyOfTheValley

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I would only have a potluck wedding if the guest count is 50 or under. At 100 guests, I think that I would just splurge for a caterer. 100 guests + potluck = things may get out of control, which is not something that I would want for my wedding day. Heck, 100 guests for ANY event, catered or not, would scare the living bejesus out of me.

I guess what I''m trying to say is: If you''re comfortable with having 100 guests bringing dishes to your wedding, then why not? It sounds stressful to me, but if it works for you and you want to do it, then I think that you should go ahead.
 

panda08

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I really love the idea of a potluck but can see SwingGirl''s point about food safety, especially with a large group. Will you be having the reception outdoors? If it''s an indoor venue, food safety might not be as huge of a problem. If you are doing a potluck, I agree that the main dish(es) should be provided and you can ask some of the guests (probably your relatives, the fewer people cooking, the less of the chance of food safety problems) to fill in with sides and/or dessert.

As for whether it''s appropriate or not, I personally wouldn''t have an issue with it. Just depends on your guests, who you know best. I thought the wedding that Deco posted was awesome.
 

FrekeChild

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My thoughts are that it would be hard for guests to try to cook one dish for even 20 people. And I agree with neatfreak that it would be odd if it was really obvious that you had spent a lot of $$$ everywhere else. I think it''s a delicate situation and it would have to handled carefully...
 

doodle

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Date: 3/11/2009 1:23:11 PM
Author: swingirl
I must tell you about an experience I had. I went to a wedding where not all the food was pot-luck but many dishes were. One aunt made her family favorite, other relatives made theirs. Without proper food handling skills for large quantities these home cooked dishes tasted great but sent a bunch of people to the hospital and many more to spend a weekend in their bathrooms. Everyone who ate the potato salad got sick. I don''t remember whether the bride and groom were affected but right after they headed out for a month long honeymoon. They apologized heavily in the thank yous but for those who ended up in the hospital it wasn''t quite enough.


I think you are taking a risk serving home cooked food because you really don''t know how they are prepared and what someone''s kitchen habits are.


Personally I don''t think it''s polite to invite people to a wedding and expect them to bring their own food. Parties, yes, weddings, not so much. That means that you expect them to spend some time during the day cooking or preparing food before they get dressed, deliver it to your venue and at the end take home their dirty serving container. But if it''s a tradition your family likes and practices that it might not be an issue.
oh man, that sucks! this is exactly what i was thinking when i commented earlier. the manager at my little sister''s venue was explaining to us that they won''t even allow you to bring in a sandwich to munch on while you''re getting ready unless it came from somewhere with a $1 million insurance policy!!!! but hey, they give you snacks, so we were cool with that, haha! according to the manager, they had a bride once whose aunt catered on occasion for fun but not professionally, and she took care of her niece''s wedding. well, when the bride and groom returned from their honeymoon, they came back to a WHOPPING lawsuit because aunt betty crocker had given a number of guests salmonella poisoning. that puts a whole new spin on "the honeymoon''s over" huh!?
 

Haven

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I don''t think it would be rude or against etiquette to have a potluck wedding as long as the invitation explicitly stated that it was a potluck party rather than a formal event. If you look at those pictures from Deco''s thread again you''ll see the adorable invite that said something like ''Potluck and a wedding."

I also agree with Neatfreak that it''s important to only have potluck if the entire wedding is going to be laid-back.

I think it''s a lovely idea. If I had seen that link two years ago, I would have tried to emulate it. I said it in the other thread, but I''ll say it again--that wedding looked so joyous. I always think of Neatfreak''s unbelievable wedding photos when I think of joyous celebrations, and the photos from the potluck wedding had the same shine to it as Neatfreak''s. Both weddings looked so unbelievably full of love and joy and happiness--what else could you want?
 

katamari

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Date: 3/11/2009 1:19:12 PM
Author: doodle
Would your venue be okay with it? i know that if anyone got sick from the food, you could be sued for it, so a lot of venues require that all food be provided by a licensed, insured caterer. other than that technical issue, though, i think it could work pretty well!
I actually spent some time looking into this this week because we were looking for event insurance. No company I looked at would insure the event unless we were serving food from licensed caterers. This was bad news for FI who really wanted some family-made favorites at the wedding.

I would definitely coordinate it somehow so that you have the range of foods you need. You also don''t want too much or too little food.

One final issue I thought about was people could consider it their "gift" to you, especially because cooking a dish for 20 people could easily run $100 + (at least for my family of foodies). If you were cool with that, it wouldn''t be a problem, but if you would rather other gifts, it would be something to think about. I would at least scale down my gift if I made an expensive dish, as a guest.
 

JulieN

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definitely not for me. I''d give up a dress budget and bouquet before asking people to bring food.
 

House Cat

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I read all three articles on the $3000 potluck wedding. It seems the way that they kept things relaxed is that they asked most people to bring things like fruit salad or fresh fruits and vegetables. This is perfect for those who don''t cook and it is also an easy way to address the food safety concern. I would just steer clear of mayonaise based items and make sure that all meats, like chicken and pork are cooked thoroughly and ON SITE (meaning, you will probably need a barbeque.)

But, back to the article, it seems to me, things were kept VERY low key, so lots of fresh food, cake, breads, plenty to feed everyone, NO WORRYING!


Personally, I would love to bring food to a friend''s wedding. I think most of us would love to help our friends and would perform this small task to make their wedding day special.
 
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