Determining the menu for your reception: The time of day will help determine what you serve: For a morning wedding or event, you may want to serve a brunch menu; hors d'oeuvres are perfect for afternoon receptions; and a sit-down dinner or buffet is appropriate for evenings.
Favorite foods: If you, your fiance, or your families have favorite dishes or prefer certain types of foods, talk to your caterer about incorporating them into your menu. Extra attention to detail is always appreciated.
Menu selection and the weather: Be certain that your menu selections will withstand your special day's anticipated weather. Avoid hot or heavy meals on muggy and humid days. High humidity may also wilt potato chips, cut cheeses, and similar foods. On hot days, extra care should be taken to protect easily spoiled foods. Be especially careful with mayonnaise-based items and raw shellfish.
Catering guidelines: To avoid running out of food at your reception, it is important to plan your menu carefully. Your caterer will be able to help you determine the best style of menu, with the correct amount of food based on your budget. Be sure to ask your caterer if they prepare any extra food for unexpected guests, and if there is an additional cost for this service. Always get a written estimate for the menu you have selected from the caterers you are considering. This estimate should include all food costs, rentals, labor, gratuities and taxes. Make sure the prices quoted will be valid at the time of your event!
Estimating the number of guests: Determine your guest count as soon as possible, since all price quotes will be based on this number. Begin by requesting prospective guest lists from both your and the groom's parents. Then put together your own list. Once all the guest lists are combined, you can use the "rule-of-thumb" that 70-75% will attend to establish a final guest count. We highly recommend that you include RSVP cards with your invitations whether you serve a sit-down dinner or a less formal buffet.
What the caterer supplies: When it comes to supplying china, flatware, glasses, cups, saucers, and table linens, catering companies differ. Some will include the cost in their catering prices, while others will not. Ask each potential caterer how they handle this matter and make sure you fully understand all fees before signing a contract. What the caterer should always supply is great service. They will coordinate all the details of your reception, including rentals, service staff, and referrals to other wedding-related businesses.
Serving the food: After you have expressed your expectations for your reception, and have determined the flow of your party and time lines for the reception, your caterer will be able to suggest buffet table layouts and food start times. They may recommend that waiters serve hors d'oeuvres so that your guests can mingle, or offer you ideas about food stations, which will create a more interactive reception for your guests. The important thing to remember is that you've planned well...now it's time to leave the details of the food service to the caterer so that you can enjoy your reception. The party is for you and your groom, and you should fully enjoy it without worrying about details that have already been delegated.
If you are planning an outdoor event be sure you have talked to your caterer about how they intend to handle bees or unwanted animals.
10 Questions to ask your Caterer:
- How many weddings have you catered?
- What type of service do you offer (i.e. buffet, sit-down and served)?
- Do you offer bar options and are you licensed to serve alcohol?
- Do you bring your own equipment? If so, what and how much space do you need?
- Do you have current health permits?
- What is the charge for servers?
- Can you accommodate certain dietary restrictions?
- Can I sample your food?
- Can you cook special requests, possibly a family recipe?
- Have you catered at my venue before?