Fun fact: The average couple spends about 39 percent of their budget on wedding catering — more than any other vendor. WeddingWire’s FallBook 2014 features the ultimate catering guide with everything you need to know about food and drinks from over 30 experts like the differences between passed vs. stationery hors d’ouevres and plated vs. buffet dinner.
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Can’t decide what to serve at your wedding reception? From hors d’oeuvres to entrees and desserts to late-night snacks, every guest secretly expects the food to be absolutely amazing. Create a standout menu with some of these 15 options that they can chow down on.
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Of course, your guests will attend your wedding to watch you and your fiancé(e) get married. But they’ll also want to celebrate – and eat! When looking for a wedding caterer, you’ll want to make sure that the food both tastes and looks appealing and fits your wedding style and budget. Plus, it’s essential to find a caterer that’s approved by your venue. Check out WeddingWire’s Vendor Reviews to find a caterer near you, and then take a look at these questions to ask a potential caterer.
Are you available on my date? Of course if the caterer is not available on your date, it’s a no-go.
Have you ever worked at my venue before? Some venues only allow approved caterers to work at their site. Whether or not that’s the case, it’s a good idea to find a caterer who is comfortable at your venue, though not a deal-breaker.
Can I see a sample menu? Start by telling the caterer about your wedding – your style, the guest count, how you visualize the food, etc. and ask to see a menu from a wedding that’s similar. You’ll get a sense if you and the caterer are on the same page in terms of style.
Do you allow couples to customize their menus at all? If you have specific requests or dietary restrictions, it’s important to find a caterer that’s flexible. Maybe you’d like to have your grandmother’s green bean casserole recipe served at your wedding. Find out if the caterer would be open to preparing family favorites, if that’s important to you.
Are you licensed? Depending on the state, make sure your caterer is licensed from the health department and for alcohol service.
Can we do a tasting? If so, is there a fee involved? Having a pre-wedding tasting is an important part of the planning process. Find out how the caterer’s tastings work – are they done before or after the contract is signed? What is included?
Will you provide rentals like tables, chairs, linens, etc.? If the answer is no, your venue should be able to assist you with finding a rental company to work with.
What’s your typical ratio of servers to guests? This depends on if you’d having a buffet or sit-down dinner. Usually sit-down dinners will have around a one server to 20 guest ratio or less, while for a buffet the guest count will be higher.
Who will be on site on my wedding day? You’ll want to be sure that you meet the coordinator who will be at your wedding beforehand.
Can you provide a per person price range for an event like mine? While this won’t be exact, it’s a good idea to make sure that the pricing fits within your budget. Note that catering will be one of the biggest expenses of your wedding day.
Photo by Kate Wenzel Photography
Sure, your wedding guests are there to see you get married, but they’re also there to celebrate, dance – and eat! One of the biggest expenses of your wedding day will be the catering, so it’s important to set a budget and do your best to stick to it. Here are our top tips on saving money on food and drink.
Choose Hors D’oeuvres Carefully – Cocktail hour is usually held after the ceremony. Guest s will likely be at their hungriest, so while it’s important for food to be plentiful, there’s no need to go overboard with the hors d’oeuvres. We recommend making sure there are at least 5 bites per person, spread out among several different offerings, some passed, some stations. Guests tend to eat more food that’s offered on stationary platters as opposed to passed by servers on trays, so try to serve your most expensive items, like seafood, as passed hors d’oeuvres. Less expensive foods, like fruit, veggies, and cheese, can be served on stationary platters.
Think About the Bar – Alcohol can be a major budget-buster. If your venue allows you to buy your own alcohol, that can be a great way to save money. You can also skip serving hard alcohol, and just serve wine and beer, or as a compromise serve wine, beer, and a signature drink featuring hard alcohol.
Buffet vs. Sit-Down – or Family Style – It’s common knowledge that serving food buffet style costs less than a sit-down dinner. Depending on the type of food you serve, buffets can get pretty pricey, as guests will eat more and the food needs to be constantly replenished. However, a sit-down dinner is quite labor intensive, as you’ll need enough people in the kitchen and as waitstaff. A good compromise can be to serve dinner family style. Large platters of food will be presented to each table, and everyone can serve themselves. We love the casual feel of this serving style, and it’s very budget-friendly!
Keep It Simple – When it comes to your wedding cake, don’t go overboard with size or decorations. A simple cake will be the most cost-effective. If you’re having a lot of guests, you can ask your baker to create a small decorated wedding cake, but also have a larger sheet cake on hand to serve.
Serve Brunch – Forget serving dinner, brunch is the most budget friendly meal of the day! For the most part, the food is relatively inexpensive and you don’t need to serve alcohol. And how delicious does a pancake wedding cake sound? Yum!
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