I'm currently trying to get the Memory Garden to fit into my budged for my wedding. The only way I think I can manage that is by not having catering and doing a bbq style buffet. Has anyone ever done this? Were you able to pull it by yourself ( obviously with some help) or is catering a must when using this site? Any information on this venue would be really, really great!
I'd recommend against doing your own bbq. It's not really fair to your family or friends who should be enjoying the party. Catering and clean-up is a ton of work.
You might consider following the custom of the Filipinos and certain other cultures which asks groups of family members to sponsor different parts of the party. In this case, the catering. You can have a flower sponsor, a video sponsor, a photography sponsor etc. Then later when you are older and more well established you can sponsor a cousin or other family member for their wedding expenses. It takes the pressure off of everyone and spreads it out over time.
I have also heard that weddings at Asilomar are very reasonable. You might also check with Adventures by the Sea, Monterey Beach Resort (Best Western) and the Old Whaling Station.
We did our wedding there but we had it catered, I would suggest talking to http://paradisecater.com/ and be honest about your budget. They may tell you it's impossible but they might be able to help you work something out. They are very reasonable people and we still get compliments on how wonderful their staff was. Good luck!
I also would discourage you from doing it all yourself. There are so many other things than just the food that needs to be considered, such as ordering the rentals and the set-up and break-down of them, serving the food, cleaning it up, just to name a few! And Memory Gardens, while beautiful, is tough even for caterers to cater at as they have no kitchen or running water. Maybe you might want to look into a caterer who does drop offs, although that still leaves you with rentals. Anyway, a local caterer that has great wedding reception drop-off food is Classic Catering, you can check them out at www.eventsbyclassic.com.
Good luck with everything and have fun with all the planning!