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How To Have A Great Wedding Reception and Save Money Doing It!

Contributed by: Sam Knight

The cost to put on a great wedding has reached ridiculous proportions. I know plenty of people who have plunked down $25,000 or more on them. Whoa!

A couple of years ago I helped friends plan their wedding. They did not have a huge amount of money but, understandably, they wanted a nice, tasteful reception.

Checking around, they were floored (and somewhat dismayed) at some of the prices they were quoted for catering. As a matter of fact, they could not believe what chicken dishes were going for!

Knowing how much I love to cook they asked if I could do anything to help out. They were expecting a crowd of about 200. There was a particular cake they'd seen and loved so I wouldn't have to worry about dessert.

Because he worked at a place where they could get great discounts, champaign and other assorted drinks and liquor was another thing I didn't have to concern myself with.

My friends asked if I would be able to put together a spread that would look good, taste terrific and not break the bank? As my wedding present to them, I did and I'll share with you how I managed it.

The wedding reception was held at a hall that had cooking facilities so this made my job easier. With the budget they gave me I purchased six tenderloin roasts. Three beef, three pork. They were huge and the plan was to have them thinly sliced.

I wanted some kind of chicken dish but one that would allow me to stretch as much as I could. I waited until shrimp went on sale and then bought about fifteen pounds. I got 30 to 40 to a pound so this was a lot of seafood. My plan was to place a platter of shrimp salad on celery sticks on each table. Sprinkled with paprika they looked very pretty.

During a trip to a local Farmer's Market I bought mountains of vegetables: spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, peas, artichoke hearts, celery and lettuce. Then I bought a few of those large packages of rice and several small bottles of pimentos. I also bought a dozen or so packages of sliced bread.

The tenderloins were seasoned and cooked to perfection (about 30 minutes a pound). Afterwards I sliced them down the middle. Into the split I poured a sauce made from Thousand Island salad dressing, water and artichoke hearts. Not only is this attractive but it is extremely tasty. I put the leftover sauce into small cups for dipping.

My chicken dish turned out to be turkey salad with bacon bits and flavor-enhanced with garlic. I'd purchased two large turkeys and they went a long, long way.

The rice was cooked with the pimentos to give it color and a unique taste (oops, I also added parsle). The salad was finely chopped and was a combination of the lettuce, spinach and tomatoes. The peas, cauliflower and bread were served separately. I cut all the slices of bread into triangular pieces.

I don't believe I spent much over $500.00 altogether. In fact, I'm sure I didn't. I can be a pretty savvy shopper. My friends were deliriously happy because not only did I save them a ton of money, the food went over like gangbusters!

Was this a lot of work? To some extent, yes. But my pay-off was finding out people wanted to know the name and telephone number of the 'caterer'.


Author, Sam Knight is editor/publisher of "BOOMER BRIGADE!" Newsletter, operates an Affordable Ad Writing Service and is dedicated to a few online businesses. One is directly involved with food

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