Go Your Own Way: Catering
Looking for a culinary experience that goes beyond the typical "chicken, fish, or beef?" Forgo the traditional sit-down supper in favor of a less conventional dining experience.
Ask friends and family to bring a favorite dish for twenty; not only is this a great way to get others involved in the festivities, but it also keeps costs down. Request that all offerings fall under a basic category, such as Italian, Mexican, or comfort food.
Host amateur hour.
Another budget-friendly option is to enlist the services of a rookie chef or a cooking student from a local culinary institute. Often these beginners are as well trained and talented as professionals, meaning a win-win situation for all parties: You benefit from their know-how, and catering your wedding serves as a great résumé-builder for them.
Blur the line between food and entertainment.
Set up the kitchen staff in a place where guests can view the action; this works especially well if the dishes are hard to prepare or exotic. If you have the means, hire a well-known chef to do this; showcasing his work as a main wedding event will furnish your friends with an experience they won't forget.
From the Fall 2005 New York Wedding Guide