Cooking with Kretz – DYI Wedding Meals on a Budget

shawn Congrats to Chef Shawn and his new bride!  Being a Chef has its perks and in today’s column Shawn discusses catering a wedding on a budget and uses his own as an example.  To reach Chef Shawn email us at   And if you’re getting married he might just be able to help.

DIY Wedding Meals on a Budget by Chef Shawn Kretz:

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of catering my own wedding.  Crazy perhaps?   Fun? Definitely.  Affordable? You betcha!   It certainly helps being a chef, however, anyone with a touch of culinary talent can successfully cater a wedding.

As we discussed a few columns ago; menu development is an important consideration.  One needs to tailor the menu to suit the number of guests, ones own preferences, tastes of the majority of guests and it should suit the decorum of the event.

Often ones friends are able to successfully plate or serve the meal buffet style. The key to achieving a positive outcome is to be prepared.   Have as much cooking and preparation done a day or more ahead that dishes merely require finishing, for example: reheating a soup, cooking steaks, etc.

Do not be afraid to challenge conventions.   My wedding consisted of great ingredients and dishes served in an unpretentious and austere manner. Everything went smoothly and our guests are still talking about the meal.  One should try to estimate the required amount of food. Remember, the more components to the meal there will be less required of each.

Also consider how guest friendly each component is, ie. potato salad vs. coleslaw. In my experience more people would choose the former over the latter.  An easy way to physically estimate quantities is to use a serving spoon and a plate; fill the plate with the requisite amount of food and then multiply the amount by the number of guests.

I suggest then adding 20% more to account for people having seconds, and to provide lunch for the wedding party the morning after. It is better to have too much than not enough.

Our wedding was rather informal but large with 120 guests, this prompted us to simplify the menu to help us execute it with success.   We chose to focus on one protein and local ingredients for our vegetable dishes to insure quality and freshness.  I sourced 100lbs of Bison ribs from Islandview Farms in Summerstown.

I slow cooked the ribs a few days beforehand and then made the braising liquid into barbecue sauce which was used at the wedding and we also canned it to give to all our guests.   Our other hot  component was grilled corn on the cob. We served these with 7 homemade gourmet cold salads consisting of: caesar salad, potato salad, coleslaw, shrimp and corn salad, broccaflower cheddar and bacon salad, multigrain salad, and greek village salad.

We also had veggie and cheese trays earlier in the afternoon and dessert trays to accompany the cake at night. Our extra food provided a very nice meal the next morning as well.

Overall the meal was easy to execute because most was prepared the day before. We enjoyed serving our guests in a buffet style line, this allowed us to also greet everyone we may not have had the chance to see otherwise.

I will leave you with a recipe for one of my favourite salads:
Broccaflower, Cheddar and Bacon Salad

1 head Broccoli (cut into small florets)
1 head Cauliflower (cut into small florets)
1 red onion (diced)
5 strips of cooked bacon (cut into strips)
1/4 lb cheddar cheese (cut into small cubes)
2 cloves of garlic minced
250ml sour cream
250ml mayonnaise
1/4 cup minced parsley or chives
white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste

Toss all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl then mix in the wet ingredients and serve.

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