Potluck reception

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Jan 30, 2010 9:42 PM Go to message in response to: Ranger84

Dear Ranger,

OK, on more sober reflection, here's my final word.

When I was a kid, I went to weddings with my parents. We brought wedding presents. As a young adult, I was invited to weddings on my own. I brought wedding presents. The other guests brought wedding presents. Thus, when it came time for my own wedding, I fully expected to see a bunch of wedding presents. I did. After I got married, I continued to be invited to weddings and I have always brought a wedding present. Today, wedding presents are the norm. Still even though wedding presents are customary, they are not obligatory. Wedding presents are a voluntary offering from guest to host, or to the host's newly married daughter/son.

I am 55 years old. I was around in the 1960s, and never once did I see, nor hear of, a potluck reception.

If you lived in a part of the world where potluck receptions were customary, you would have attended such events. You would have attended them as a child with your parents. As a young adult you would have attended them on your own. Upon hearing that a friend was getting married, you would reflexively contact that person and VOLUNTARILY, without prompting, offer to bring a dish as your part of the potluck. You would have learned that from your parents. You would have seen your mother bring potluck dishes to many weddings, after having offered. Your mother might have organized a bunch of ladies into providing for the wedding. (A hundred years ago, household cooking was done by women.)

Get it?

Your parents bring gifts (now) or food (then) as a voluntary offering to the newlyweds. You learn from them, then you do the same.

Even though everyone knows darn well they will get gifts (now) or food (then) from their invited guests, they do not proactively channel gift giving in that direction.

What you are trying to do is reclaim an old tradition, but in doing so you are in violation of an even older tradition that you do not direct gift-giving to yourself. If those around you truly wanted to help with your reception by bringing potluck food, they would so offer.

This is like those who say "In FarAwayLand, it's customary for the guests to give nothing but cash. We want to follow that tradition (even though neither of us has even set foot in FarAwayLand), so how do we tell our guests that we don't want their stupid gifts, but instead to just give us cash? After all, if it's traditional in FarAwayLand, then it's OK in America."

It is especially murky when you try to reclaim an old tradition not because of any sentimental attachment to The Old Ways, but out of a greedy gimme-pig desire to host a party without paying for it.

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AmyJustin2010 Posts : 201 Registered: 1/18/10
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Jan 30, 2010 9:43 PM Go to message in response to: Ranger84

Again, if you post your budget and guest headcount we could better help you. I don't really think that providing the food is that out-of-reach financially. My Mom's doing my sister's HS grad party picnic full-meal style in June and she's having 75 guests and paying 400 dollars total for food and probably 50 bucks on drinks. The church hall rental is 100 dollars.


I would just urge you to go to the supermarket or your nearest large quantities supplier (Sam's, Costco) and price some things out. I'd be willing to bet money that you could make food enough to feed an army for under 500 dollars.

AmyJustin2010.Weebly.Com

 

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myra Posts : 5,550 Registered: 3/28/06
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Jan 31, 2010 1:48 AM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

What else are you going to do? Demand a dowry? Tell your father that you have to come into your marriage with a couple of cows?

AOTB, to funny! You should write your own book! By the way, I, too, was around in the 60's/70's and I did attend a potluck wedding. It was grad school, two poor grad students, far away from their families. One of the professors had it at her house and it was she (not the bridal couple) who asked for pot-luck contributions. We all did that gladly, but this group really was like an extended family.

But, that was then, and this is now, and the kind of wedding being planned does not sound at all like the same kind of thing. Pot-luck is fine for an immediate family/ very close friends kind of informal celebration. Any other type of occasion--no way.
myra at www.classysassyweddings.com

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CheetahAngel Posts : 2,017 Registered: 11/29/08
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Jan 31, 2010 11:36 AM Go to message in response to: Ranger84

How about your very close relatives can make the food. Like your mom, sister, aunt, cousin...But it's rude to have every single guest bring food. It just looks bad. You can still cut the costs by having your close relatives cook. That way your guests can come to the wedding with just cash or a nice gift and not have to worry about being in the kitchen the night before or getting up really early that morning to cook. At weddings it's best to let the guests enjoy themselves and celebrate with you instead of having them slave over a hot stove :-p
                           
  

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kelleyiskelley Posts : 11,590 Registered: 7/2/06
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Jan 31, 2010 11:56 AM Go to message in response to: CheetahAngel

Hi. I think the key here is that most of the online articles you are referring to all start with "one hundred years ago, this was acceptable and normal." You have to understand that what was aceptable then is defiantely NOT the norm now. Even in New Hamphire, which is NOT the backwoods, by the way lol. Im from Massachusetts, and know NH very well. The people there, for the most part, arent exactly the type youd see on "My Big Redneck Wedding." And hell, even on THAT show, where the people ARE as backwoods and TACKY as all hell, they dont ask their guests to supply the meal. No. They "git her done" and have that spread of baked beans, hot dogs, little debbie snack cakes, lard rolls, pig tongue, and other slop themselves.

I do know what you mean about it being normal within a close family/friends to do potluck events, get togethers. We do them all the time in my family too. But A. they are not weddings and B. its only the very close family (mom,dad,aunts,uncles,grandparents,siblings) that we would feel comfortable enough with to say "Hey lets all bring a dish ......." So, I think the pp's advice is good when she says IF youre going to do a potluck, dont advertise it as such. Just ask your IMMEDIATE close family members if they would mind helping you out wiht some main dishes ...and then invite everyone else, with no mention of potluck, bringing food vs. gifts, etc etc. Just invite them and supply them with food and a good time.

OR, what I would really suggest is having the wedding you can afford, and going to Costco, BJs, or a big wholesale store like that to buy your food. You can easily do things like finger sandwiches, a ziti bake or lasagna, salad, some small finger foods or apps, a wedding cake, coffee and tea for pretty inexpensive. Trust me, people will respect you more for having the wedding you can afford, than they will for getting an invitation where THEY have to now cook/bring a dish to supply their own meal.

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Jan 31, 2010 12:53 PM Go to message in response to: Ranger84

OP,


I think I may understand where you are coming from with this potluck idea.

In my neighbourhood--which is near Toronto--so not in the boones or anything--potluck affairs are very common.


My mother is a part of a large circle of friends and they regularly throw parties. For all of the parties--people tend to bring some kind of appetizer dish--it could be sushi, shrimp skewers, fruit plates, cheese plates--whatever they wanted to bring.


The host usually creates a few dishes (I cooked for my mother's and we had baked brie with a variety of fruit sauces and homemade breads, smoked salmon quesadillas and jerk chicken skewers) as well as sets up a bar (my mother had about a dozen bottles of red and white wine, a few cases of beer and i made enough kir royales for everybody to have about two, and she bought a few bottles of vodka and supplied tonic water--she also provided non-alcoholic beverages such as some nice flavoured waters and fresh made juices.)


This is very common for throwing a party in my neighbourhood. People would come in hand with some nibblies and then if they like to drink something very specifically--then they would bring something as well.


However--this would not be done for a wedding. On her invitation that she sent via e-mail it said "Hope you are able to attend, a long over due gathering--nibbly pot luck affair" and then listed the event info. That being said--we would never say "Hope you are able to attend our wedding--a nibbly potluck affair." That being said--if something like that is common in your area--go for it.

But reflect on past weddings that you have been to in the area--have you ever been invited to a potluck wedding?

Parties are not equal to weddings.

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NJ4Life Posts : 3,358 Registered: 8/10/07
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 1, 2010 11:55 AM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

I probably wouldn't attend a potluck wedding. Something about eating food from people's kitchens who I don't know SKEEVES me.

And I am really not feeling the whole "we can't afford to feed you, so bring your own food". You may have not said it in so many words but that is what you are getting at. I can kinda see the BYOB side b/c not everyone drinks so whatever. But this isn't a kegger or a cookout. It's a wedding.

I am trying to plan a 30th bday for my DH and I am looking to do it on the cheap side. And I've found several BBQ caterers that are VERY reasonable. I'm taking trays that feed up to 30 for $30-$40 each. And I am in NJ, I am sure in NH you'd find something even cheaper. Casual and affordable.

I dont think anyone is suggesting you serve lobster tails b/c it's a WEDDING. but I think if you do some research you can find some reasonably priced caterers for even heavy hors d'ouevres and a couple carving stations.

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dawnh29 Posts : 1 Registered: 2/4/10
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 4, 2010 11:24 AM Go to message in response to: Ranger84

The more I read the uppity responses that you received the more upset I became. I don't know where everyone that responded comes from but I come from a small town in the South, not far from larger cities so we aren't backwoods here, where you only invite people that are family and friends that are close enough to be family, and when the rest of the town shows up they are welcomed with open arms. Where I come from you drop what you are doing to help a neighbor, family or friend out and they do the same for you without being asked. I have talked to about half of my guests, which are about 200, and all but 2 suggested a pot luck reception the 2 that didnot ask what they could do to help or what I needed them to bring!
I am getting married in October and we are having a comfortable outdoor wedding with a reception afterwards with a live band. We are supplying the meat, drinks and cake. On the reception card it does state that it is a, hold your panties ladies, POT LUCK and to please bring your favorite covered dish.
I wish you all the luck in the world. The only advise that I have for you is to talk to your guests and see how they feel about a pot luck. Don't rely on the advise of uppity strangers or that of a downhome Southern lady.

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Beeble Posts : 306 Registered: 11/19/09
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 4, 2010 12:01 PM Go to message in response to: dawnh29

I think a pot luck reception is wonderful for a number of reasons. Over a hundred years ago, people were much less materialistic and didn't need all these fancy gifts, blenders, fine china sets etc to get by. Now adays people are generally getting married later in life and often have all these material posessions, have a house, possibly living together already etc. Personally I have a hard time thinking of more things that I would like to buy for myself let alone to put on a regsitry or what not.

My SO and I have discussed what we would like for our wedding food(if he ever does ask lol) and we both agree a bbq is the way to go, we would supply the meat and have close family members help us provide the side items etc. We would only concider giving the option to contribute to the meal to close family members who actually live in town so that food transportation, chilling, heating etc would be easier. We would ask in person in the beginning when figuring out a general budget, not on the invitations, that does seem a bit tacky. Then if nobody seemed game on this idea we would have plenty of time to make alternate arrangements.

The other details are left to my imagination at this point,
In my vision our wedding would be out on my uncles acreage, people would be invited to bring tents, campers, trailers etc, and camp out (no worry then about drinking and driving) and our reception tent could be converted into a kind of bunk house for the night for those that don't have their own tents. There would be a few bedrooms in the house for grandma, grandpa, mom dad etc and the bride and groom of course. Our acreage is only 20 min away and could be back up lodging. It would be BYOB for the event, then everyone can have their preferred beer etc but we would probably provide wine for each table during dinner and maybe a signature drink provided before dinner. Since we had help with the dinner from friends or family, and people were camping out overnight we would supply a pancake breakfast for everyone in the morning.

However if things were to change and we were to get married in a formal venue we would have the event catered, and style things up to suit the venue. But neither of us are very formal, and neither of us want to get married in a curch, so i see backyard as the way to go.

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NJ4Life Posts : 3,358 Registered: 8/10/07
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 4, 2010 12:15 PM Go to message in response to: dawnh29

Where I come from you drop what you are doing to help a neighbor, family or friend out and they do the same for you without being asked.

So basically you are saying you need to be from a "small town" to help a neighbor out. So bascially anyone from a NORMAL sized town or a city just turns their backs on their neighbor?

New Jersey: We have dumps, bays and cement boots and we know how to use 'em

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 4, 2010 12:19 PM Go to message in response to: dawnh29

dear Dawn,

" they do the same for you without being asked"

There's the key. They do the same without being asked.

I wrote exactly that in an early message. If you have the personal experience of having grown up in an area where people voluntarily offer WITHOUT BEING ASKED, then great. Do the same at your wedding.

However, if you are in an area where the norm is to bring presents to the wedding, and expect the party hosts to feed and water you, then it will look strange to ask them to bring their own food.

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 4, 2010 12:20 PM Go to message in response to: Beeble

Um, Ranger, seriously? We don't agree with you, therefore we must be uppity snobs? That's really fair.

You asked a question. We gave answered, and even offered to HELP you make things work without resulting to an etiquette faux pas. I'm sorry that wasn't good enough for you.

I have heard of " pot luck" weddings . However, in every case, the word "potluck" as actually misused to mean " home cooking". Family members made the food, not the guests. THAT would be okay, if your family was willing to help. There is nothing wrong with home cooking.

And look, just because "everyone" in your area does something doesn't mean that it isn't rude. There is a tradition done where I live (to avoid debate, I won't mention what it is) that "everyone " does, but it seems horribly rude to me. So even though a lot of people suggested it I - read this care fully - DID.NOT.DO.IT. Because I care about being polite, and on the off chance that even 25% of people would be offended by it, I did not do it.

And seriously? 100 years ago? 100 years ago women weren't even considered "people" in my country (Canada), so I really hope that we don't start doing things like it was a century ago.

BRIGHTER - I live not too far from Toronto too!
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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 4, 2010 12:30 PM Go to message in response to: Beeble

Dear Beeble,

" we would supply the meat and have close family members help us provide the side items etc. We would only concider giving the option to contribute to the meal to close family members who actually live in town so that food transportation, chilling, heating etc would be easier. We would ask in person in the beginning when figuring out a general budget, not on the invitations, that does seem a bit tacky."

Nothing wrong with that. The key is that you are going to close family members. What happens within a nuclear family is not really within the realm of Proper Etiquette. After all, close family members have seen you naked. They changed your diapers. Some, in the distant past, might have taken baths with you and your rubber duckie.

So, when you come up with plans for the actual wedding, you ask Mom, Dad, Sis and Fav Cousin Bob if they can help with the food. Great. Go for it.

As for the more "distant" relatives and friends, they will be invited to a party and served delicious home cooked food. In return for that hospitality, they will bring nice gifts to start you new life.

The OP proposed putting "In lieu of a gift, please bring a dish of food" on the invitation that goes out to everyone. That is tacky, as you said.


" Personally I have a hard time thinking of more things that I would like to buy for myself let alone to put on a regsitry or what not. "

In that case, just skip the registry and let yourself be surprised with what people give you. Some of the best gifts come as a total surprise. After all, you can't exactly put "Grandma's antique desk" on a registry. If Grandma is downsizing, she might be very much inclined to give prized possessions away as gifts, then see the recipients enjoy the gift while she's still able.

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bosoxgirl Posts : 231 Registered: 2/3/10
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 4, 2010 12:43 PM Go to message in response to: Ranger84

I hail from the good ole' Garden State and when we host informal events (christmas, birthdays, get togethers), our family members always ask, "Can we bring something?" If they need a dessert or an appetizer, we bring it. If it is a formal dinner, the host ALWAYS provides the food (At most, they may ask us to bring a bottle of wine...but who wouldnt bring a house gift to a formal get together?)

I would never word anything on a wedding invitation that reads, "Please bring your favorite dish." If you do something like this, you shouldn't call it a wedding reception. Call it a BBQ or a family get together and have it a week after your wedding (Almost like having a picnic if you do a private destination wedding between you and your FH). Though, you did say you wanted it to be informal, laid back and more of a family get together...so why not take that idea into consideration? When you are invited to a wedding reception, whoever is hosting the event should provide the food and drink.
My cousins live in Georgia and were married in 2008 and had an outdoors reception and didn't ask family members to bring food. They had an offsite catering company deliver food to the venue and they were able to provide 2 main dishes, 1 pasta choice, 1 veggie, salad, bread and butter for 75 guests for under $600.00 (about 8.00 a person). They rented round tables with throw away colored table covers, regular white folding chairs, and "high performance" plastic wear. The bride DIYed cute centerpieces (for under 6.00 a table), they had someone play music from an ipod that plugged into a small sound system, they provided 3 types of soda, water, tea and 2 types beer and 2 types wine... they were able to pull all of it off for under 3k (alcohol being the bulk of their reception budget). I am not sure how much your budget is but there are ways to pull off a decent outdoors reception without asking your guests to chip in with food and not bring a gift.

If you want home cooking for your reception, perhaps you, your mother and FMIL should do the cooking a day or two before the wedding. It shouldn't be expensive to cook cold mac salad, potatoe salad, fruit bowl, corn on the cob, green salad...most of that stuff can be prepared a day before the wedding by two people and stored in foil trays!


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AmyJustin2010 Posts : 201 Registered: 1/18/10
Re: Potluck reception
Posted: Feb 4, 2010 12:43 PM Go to message in response to: dawnh29

I'm from a small town and enjoy helping out others yet I don't expect people to finance a party that my FH and our parents are hosting. I just don't see how these things go hand in hand.....

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