A reader writes:
“My fiancee and I have started talking about food for the wedding. My parents offered to make the food and take care of everything foodwise (of course help will be enlisted), while her parents are worried that it would be too big of a task to undertake and that we would screw it up.
“Putting aside the question about the quality of the made food versus the catered food, and the fact that if something does happen her side of the family is going to be livid with my side and not the caterers, am I crazy to even consider my parents proposition?
“I seem to think it would be possible, especially knowing that we have 18 months to plan it all out. We’ve planned some big events before and had everything turn out, and by doing the food ourselves, we could save a ton of money. For what its worth, we’re thinking we’ll have about 150 people at the wedding.
“So, what do you guys think? Am I crazy? Is it going to be harder than what I think it is going to be? Or is it totally doable? I do like the idea of saving a few thousand dollars.”
There’s one very crucial question you have to ask yourself. “Is there even the slightest chance that this will upset your bride?”
Abort. Ditch it. Don’t even give it another second’s thought. This is the above-visualized trainwreck scenario. Tell your parents thanks, but no thanks. (Just like it’s a Bridge to Nowhere.) If she is worried that this will infuriate her own parents, cause drama, and unleash hell, then it’s not worth the gamble.
Here’s the great thing: people have a soft spot for homemade shit. Even if it’s cheaper and less impressive and less tasty, suddenly it’s a heart-warming thing. So let’s imagine that whatever you cater would get a score of 95. Even if your parent-made-food is only an 85, people will say things like, “Oooooohhhh… your mother made this?!? That’s wonderful! Now I like it even more!”
Yes, perhaps some hardcore snobs will have the opposite reaction, saying, “Hmmm. I see. Couldn’t afford to pay the caterer, could we?” For them, we suggest an activity that they’ll be sure to enjoy: they can go fu#k themselves.
The “Do it” answer does assume, of course, that your parents will deliver at least a competent spread of food. In your email, you say you need to “put aside” that question, but, well, that is the question. If you have Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Vacation flipping burgers for your 150 guests, you just might embarrass the bride. Assuming it’s of decent caliber, however, you’ll get the benefit of the doubt.
(Warning: This approach will make the back-and-forth between parents that much more sensitive and that much more of a pain in the ass. Brace yourself. Be prepared to be the go-between, to communicate with both sets, to massage some egos.)
So. Unless your bride has a bad feeling about this–and make sure she’s being 100% honest–use your folks, pocket the cash, and go spend it on something worthwhile. Like… booze.