I think i'm certain weather it would be more comfy to have an in house meet! and i agree, if you decide to have a nice dinner or lunch, that stuff can add up. Ingredient costs add up very quickly
i understand if it was a potluck, i wouldn't want to pay, but if a host was cooking everything and providing a space, food and drink it shouldn't be absurd to give them 15-20 dollars or bring them a gift at the very least.
My family has a long history of at home entertainment, and that's the thing i notice the most. Their friends will bring over alcohol, desserts, sometimes side dishes or will just shell out cash for a side of meat or an expensive dish, and when it's over you take home your portion of the meal or if you don't want it, leave it with the host. It's typically an unspoken rule, but unless someone's demanding 20 bucks a person to eat egg salad sammies their mom made with costco bucket egg salad mix, you gotta be some sort of special or a downright dick to not provide anything in return to someone hosting
on another note, i love the idea of hosting a wonderful luncheon or high tea at my house once i have it finished. It would feel more authentic i feel to have a simple meet to get to know each other without worries of outside eyes. i know it's nice to be out in public with other lolitas but it does get exhausting sometimes