It’s important to make the right choices for your wedding catering. Almost all wedding receptions involve some kind of meal, whether it’s a simple buffet or a three course meal.
The food served at your wedding reception is known as the “wedding breakfast”, regardless of what time it’s served. This is because it is your first meal as husband and wife.
Wedding catering is a lucrative business and you may be surprised at how much it costs. If you are going for a full dinner with several courses, then as a rule of thumb you can expect to pay roughly as much per head as you would at a good quality restaurant.
Your venue may specify that you have to use their own catering services, or one of a selected panel of approved outside caterers. In the latter case, the venue will almost always be getting a financial kickback from the caterer. It’s worth checking for this type of restriction before you book your venue.
Once you know what restrictions, if any, you are dealing with, you can get quotes from several caterers. If you can get personal recommendations from friends, so much the better.
It’s worth getting at least three quotes. You will need to give them your requirements (e.g. three courses, cold starter, roast beef for main course, warm pudding, coffee). You can tweak this later – this is just for the purposes of comparing costs – but try to specify the same requirements to everyone on your wedding catering shortlist.
Make sure you take into account any extra charges. Some caterers will give you a straight up fee. Others will charge you for every conceivable extra – serving staff, linen hire, glassware hire, rubbish disposal – you name it.
You should also spend time talking to the caterers about how they work and what level of service you can expect. Some caterers scrimp on staffing, which means it can take an age to get each course out of the kitchen. You may have finished your course on the top table before some of your guests have even been served.
Other caterers try to save in other areas, for example by providing coffee at the end of the meal from a side table, rather than serving it to guests. This means they need serving staff for less time.
However, if you are choosing a caterer with a good reputation then you shouldn’t be too worried. Remember that they are experienced in wedding catering and you can make use of that.
They may be able to offer you advice in certain areas, such as quantities for your wedding drinks. They will also have a good idea of which dishes work well in particular seasons.
Once you’ve chosen your caterer, you simply pay your deposit and relax. Generally they will expect full payment shortly before the big day.