From plated dinners to food trucks set up outside the reception venue, the options for feeding your wedding guests are growing every day. Pick something that will make you and your guests happy, but don’t sacrifice your tastes or the style of your wedding for others’ opinions. It is your wedding day, after all.
Don’t assume that your catering costs are going to be similar to costs at a restaurant. In most cases, it’s more expensive because catering is personalized to your tastes. We recommend tackling this to-do fairly early in your planning process, just because the best caterers tend to book up well in advance.
One of the first things you should do when deciding on a caterer is check whether your venue comes with on-site caterers or if you’ll be responsible for providing your own. Talk with your caterer to make sure the facilities are suitable for the type of meal you want prepared. The size of the kitchen and the technology that it has available are both things that should be considered when deciding your menu.
If your venue comes with a caterer, or if you’re using an outside caterer, meet with the person who will be providing food for your wedding. Talk with them about your wedding plans, sample some of the dishes they recommend, and trust that this caterer will truly treat your guests well.
Remember to take your guests’ dietary restrictions into account when working with your caterer. You can ask for specifications on the RSVP cards, and talk to prospective caterers about gluten free and vegan options, if necessary.
A buffet dinner is most likely going to be the most economic way to serve all your wedding guests a good meal without blowing your budget. However, interactive food stations set up around the reception room are a current trend with weddings. These stations are usually hosted by a chef or member of the catering staff to help your guests customize their selections. Having these stations spread out keeps the line of guests waiting for food down.
Of course, remember to pick a reasonable food budget and stick to it. One of the quickest ways your catering bill can add up is for the labor your catering company provides at the event. Take a close look at how many servers, chefs, or other staff they have allocated to your event on the invoice, and ask your caterer if there’s any way to cut those costs. It can be as simple as opting for stationary vs. tray-passed appetizers.
Don’t forget to ask potential caterers if they have a license, a liquor license if you’re going to be serving alcohol, and liability insurance. These precautionary measures will help protect you and your wedding from unexpected problems.
Be sure that you and your new spouse take the time to eat during the reception! You’ve got a night full of dancing and merriment ahead of you, so you’re going to need the food!