How to navigate the sea of wedding catering options
What vibe are you going for?
Take a minute to think about the atmosphere you are imagining for your big day. These types of questions might help:
- Is it a formal, sit-down affair with the traditional bridal table, champagne toasts and speeches?
- Will you be seating your guests at long tables or round ones?
- Are you after something a little different? Perhaps you dream of tables under the fairy-lit trees, with platters of farmer’s market produce or a selection of different food stations.
- Or would you love more sushi, snacks and mingling with your loved ones?
- Would a Mexican food truck on the beach suit your style?
Two things to do before you make the call
1. Spend time talking through your ideas with your future husband or wife-to-be so that you know exactly what you are both after.
2. Start work on a rough guest list. You may imagine a small, intimate affair but, when you sit down to write that list, it really can raise some tricky questions. Does Aunt Pam have to be there? How about cousin Drucilla? Only you can decide.
Knowing how many guests you’re thinking of inviting will stand you in good stead to start looking at the budget and choosing a caterer.
How to find the right caterer
It may sound obvious, but your caterer is key to this part of the party. Get in touch with a caterer as soon as you start planning your big day – top notch caterers can get booked up from one year to the next and their availability may influence the date you choose.
- It’s likely that your venue will have a list of recommended caterers but ask your friends and family too.
- Take a look at their websites for sample menus or give them a call and arrange a meeting.
- Before you meet, however, have an idea of budget and the number of guests, as this really will help nail down the options available and the final dishes you choose to serve.
Good questions to ask your caterer
On meeting your caterer, don’t be afraid to bombard them with questions. It’s better that you clear the lines of communication now and not closer to the big day. Your caterer will also probably have a lot more wedding experience than you do, so ask for their tips, ideas and expertise and plenty sample menus. These questions are a good starting point:
- How long in advance do you need to make the final food decision?
- What ingredients will be in season?
- If a sit-down meal is on the cards, how will the timing of the speeches, toasts and courses work?
- What is included in the quote? Is it just the food or the serving staff and all the hiring equipment too?
- How does the caterer feel about your planned set-up and venue? In other words, is he/she happy with long tables, round tables or for you to be relaxing on hay bales?
- Will you have a tasting and will they help with wine pairings?
You may choose to get quotes from a few recommended caterers. Sit down with these quotes and make sure you are comparing like-for-like (some quotes may or may not include service, prop hire etc). and then make your final call.
Budget-friendly catering ideas
As you’ll soon realise, when service providers hear the word ‘wedding’ they often add a few zeros! Sticking to a budget can be one of the most challenging aspects of planning a wedding and is often the reason why the thought of eloping before the big day crosses the minds of many couples. But, don’t fret, you have options.
Weddings where friends and family are involved in the preparation are often the most heart-felt and memorable. Instead of a dessert table, how about asking each one of your special aunts and family friends to bake a chocolate cake? Set up the cake table and you’ll have one beautiful talking point. From cheese boards to whole main courses, there are ways ‘DIY’ can help bring down the cost.
Hog roasts, cheese and charcuterie boards, bowl food and buffets can take the costs down. Instead of missing some key people on your big day, be flexible with your menu, think out-of-the-box and ask your caterer for recommendations to bring down the cost. You don’t have to dine on fillet and lamb shank with silver service – a butternut risotto or a selection of homemade cheesecakes could work out perfectly too. Or perhaps a rustic pizza station – now there’s an idea.
5 top tips to coming right with wedding catering
- Food creates memories but it also fuels a dancing-on-the-tables party. Will you need bacon rolls for that midnight snack?
- Pinterest and brides are a marriage made in heaven. Use it to get ideas of the atmosphere you are after, ingredients you love and flavour combinations. Share your ‘wedding food’ board with your caterer.
- Always make sure there is going to be enough food. The last thing you want is for people to be hungry. Your caterer should be able to guide you.
- If you have a wedding website or some info that goes out with your invitations, ask guests if they have any dietary requirements.
- For buffet-style, check how many serving stations there will be and who will call which tables up first. You don’t want a traffic jam.
There’s a lot to organise for the big day and a whole heap of expectations to manage and choices to make but remember, after all, this day is about you and the one you love. It’s your happy-ever-after, so make it about the two of you and try and have as much fun doing so.
We run a great Pinterest competition every month – so while you’re pinning all your best ideas, get entered and get lucky.
Get the competition details and entry form here.