Choosing catering for a wedding

The key things to consider when choosing catering for a wedding are:

Canapes
Buffets
Sit down meals
Drinks
Cakes
Extras such as Chocolate Fountains or Ice sculptures
Hire of catering equipment

There are three types of catering that you will want to consider for your wedding: self-catering, outside catering and in-house catering.

The first could be done in your own home or a venue that you hire such as a village hall or marquee. Outside caterers could be used in your own home or any venue that allows them on their premises. However, most venues will have their own in-house caterers, although they may allow you to supply the alcohol.

Contact caterers early on as they will give you a good idea of budget and this might determine how many people you can invite.

catering

I thought we'd save loads of money by having outside caterers. We calculated that you could feed people well enough for £10-15 a head. In fact the cost per head of our buffet for the food was £16 but by the time you add in the linen, waiting staff and hire of equipment, it came to £30 a head and that's without booze. The food was very good and plentiful but it's not as cheap as you think.

It's important to think about the timing of your event with regards to catering. If you have a ceremony earlier in the day, you may have to feed people twice, once for lunch and then an evening buffet or meal.

We held our ceremony at 4.30 and the party started at 5.30. We had a reception first serving pink Cava. We had thought about having canapés but I indulged my fantasy and had a chocolate fountain.

chocolate fountain

Guests were able to dip strawberries, melon, pineapple, marshmallows and mini doughnuts into the flowing chocolate. It was a fun start to the event and looked great when people first walked into the room. We then a buffet supper, which gave people lots of choices.

If you hold your ceremony in the late afternoon, people will have eaten lunch before they arrive. I have been to many a straight wedding, where the ceremony starts at say two, lasts an hour, then there are endless formal photographs and we finally sit down to eat at about five. By that stage, most people are either tipsy, famished or both, not a good combination.

If you want to really splash out you can hire first class chefs from top restaurants for the day.

Money saving tip

Jeremy Gibson from Yumarooney caterers says: 'If you are on a tight budget you should ask a caterer to do a 'lay & leave' buffet and then rope in friends to help run the reception, thus avoiding staffing costs.'

What to ask about catering for a wedding

What is the minimum and maximum number of guests you want to invite?
What type of food do you want?
Do you want a sit down meal or a buffet?
If you are having a lunchtime wedding, do you want a buffet for the evening?
Does the venue have all its own crockery and tables?
Are there cooking facilities for outside caterers at the venue?
If hiring a marquee, do you need a separate catering tent?
Do they have references that you can contact?
Are there any 'extras' not on their quote?
How much and what type of liability insurance do they have?
What are their billing terms and conditions?
What are their contingency plans if they are ill on the day?

Helpful hints
Insist on giving a deposit, no matter how small, it will make it
harder for caterers to dump you should they be offered a larger
function.

Make sure you have a caterer's personal mobile number

If visiting the kitchen of a caterer, see if it is clean

Ask for a tasting session, so you can check out the quality of the supplier

See our cakes and catering page for gay-friendly suppliers