Wedding Catering Top Tips

Let’s Talk Menus…

Wedding catering is likely to be where you spend your biggest chunk of budget so there’s lots to consider. I would advise not to cut corners when it comes to catering. Making sure your guests are fed and watered is one thing, but really focussing on the detail when it comes to food and drink is what’s going to wow your guests and keep them talking about your wedding for years to come. 

Where to start with your Wedding Catering

If you’re getting married at a venue, they may have in-house catering, or you may have a small list of preferred suppliers to choose from. This is a good thing because it means the venue have worked with them before and give them their seal of approval. Consider the catering options available before confirming the venue, to make sure they’re able to offer what you’ve got in mind. 

Marquee Wedding Catering

If you’re having a marquee wedding for example, in private grounds, you’ll obviously be free to choose any caterer, which may seem daunting! As an experienced wedding planner in Surrey I can offer plenty of advice and contacts, but a good starting point is always your own experience (other weddings you’ve been to for example), or a personal recommendation. See my previous post about choosing the right caterer for further advice. 

Do you want a formal feel or something more relaxed? Are you considering a specific theme/cuisine? Perhaps there’s a dish or cuisine that’s an important part of your relationship, such as countries you’ve travelled, or places you’ve lived. 

Image Credit – Caper & Berry

In your negotiations with caterers, not only will you need to consider menu options, but you’ll have to factor in costs such as equipment hire, staff, travel expenses, insurance etc. Having planned many marquee weddings in Surrey and Sussex I’ve seen what goes into erecting kitchens in gardens! 

What’s on the menu? 

Food and drink proceedings kick off with reception drinks and canapes… It’s time to celebrate! Traditionally Champagne or Prosecco is served to welcome your guests to the reception but perhaps you’d consider an alternative such as Pimms for a summer wedding? Or a different signature cocktail. 

Your caterer will advise how many canapes to order per person. I suggest going heavy with canapes if your budget allows! Your guests may have travelled for a long time and it could have been a long time since their last meal. A creative selection of delicious canapes and beautiful, imaginative ways to serve them will keep your guests very happy. Kalm Kitchen come up with all sorts of amazing, creative ways to serve their canapes. Practically art installations, involving moss, flowers and bird cages! A real wow factor for marquee weddings at home. 

Image credit – Kalm Kitchen

If you want a novel idea for canapes/starters you could think about a DIY Bruschetta bar. It’s a bit of fun for your guests to get creative with toppings. Big bowls of fresh chopped tomatoes, pesto, tapenade, basil plants, giant pepper grinders. Delicious, and it can be styled beautifully too with chalkboards and interesting serveware. 

To continue the DIY/interactive concept, how about a ‘pimp your drink’ bar? A selection of additions such as Chambord, Aperol, fresh fruit and herbs such as sprigs of rosemary. Ideas like this will keep your guests busy, while you’re off doing photos etc, before the sit-down wedding breakfast. 

So, the wedding breakfast. The main event. How many courses will you go for? You could go for plated throughout all the courses, or sharing starters or bistro boards… or grazing stations. There are so many options these days! London-based Caiger and Co believe it’s really important to have what you (as a couple) want. It’s impossible to accommodate everyone’s requirements so they suggest creating a menu you love which can be adjusted for individuals where necessary. They also look for a theme, no matter how loose, in terms of food. They say: “do you have fond memories of travelling to Spain on holiday and eating wonderful plates of tapas? Or are you having a Winter wedding and looking to conjure up the best of British comfort food? Perhaps you’re getting married by the coast and want to have a seafood feast for everyone to share?”

Last summer, I had the pleasure of fully planning a marquee wedding in the grounds of my client’s property. At our initial consultation it was clear that they were passionate about food. They wanted steak and chips for 180 guests, they wanted the beef to be from their local butcher and they wanted the steak cooked to order. This was a big challenge for a caterer in a field kitchen! A few caterers laughed at my proposal, but the job was taken on and executed perfectly by the amazing Four Gables. David Gillott and his team were delighted to rise to the challenge and meet their requirements. They were a dream for a wedding planner to work with!

Wedding Catering Ideas

At the end of the main course you may be considering the first speech (see our last post about speeches and toasts) so you may wish to keep guests seated with a plated dessert. If you fancy another creative station/art installation check out Kalm Kitchen’s ideas. 

Come the evening, when much drink has been consumed and your guests have worked up an appetite on the dance floor, it’s time for evening food. You could go for street food, wood fired pizza for example or how about a heaving grazing table? Local speciality cheeses, homemade chutneys and slaws, salty cured meats, artisan breads… The Curated Kitchen specialise in luxury grazing tables and they take great pride in making their displays beautiful. 

Another consideration is how about a food van? I love the options that Caper and Berry have to offer. They have a vintage H Y Van; offering a number of other street food concepts from Burgers & Shakes, Steak & Ales and Butcher’s Dogs as well as Sea & Spud concepts as well as their infamous Pizza Oven Land Rover

Image Credit – Caper & Berry

To Cake or Not to Cake?

By this point your cake will be cut. Think about serving it as part of the buffet with big bowls of berries and cream. 

To conclude, think carefully about the budget you have available for catering and do your research to find the best supplier in your price range. Make sure they’re enthusiastic about your event and on the ball with communication. Make sure you confirm everything with a written contract and ensure there are no hidden extras. If you’d like a list of useful questions to ask potential caterers then please get in touch. 

As an experienced wedding planner in Surrey and Sussex, specialising in marquee weddings, I’d love to arrange a consultation with you to go through ideas and offer advice.

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