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Food for Thought: Working With a Caterer

Food for Thought: Working With a Caterer

There are so many options when it comes to deciding what food you will serve at your wedding.  Selecting a caterer can be overwhelming, but just take it one step at a time and you’ll be fine.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your caterer as you make decisions about your wedding food.

What food will you serve?

You can serve whatever food you want at your wedding reception regardless of what tradition says. Remember it’s your day! Whether you want barbecue, tacos or southern classics, there is a caterer out there that can make it happen. Just keep in mind that you are not the only person eating so think about what your guests would like too.

How much food will you serve?

Consider the time of day, your budget, the size of your guest list and your food preferences as you and your caterer determine what and how much food will be served at your reception.  You can do appetizers (aka heavy hors d’oeuvres in the catering biz), a full meal via buffet or plated meal, desserts or whatever you can think of.  Designate on your invitations whether you will be having a cocktail, dessert of dinner reception and time your event so that people know what to expect in the way of food.  No one can enjoy your event if they’re hungry. Trust your caterer when it comes to determining exactly how much food should be served, after all, the idea is to hire a professional caterer you trust!

Kentucky Wedding Caterer- Antipasto buffet for Cocktail Hour
Catering by Mickster’s Mobile Food and photography by Cassie Lopez Photography

How will the food be served?

Your options for food service are:

  • A pre-selected plated meal served by waiters
  • A buffet-style setup with all the food in one spot
  • Groupings of related food items at stations dispersed throughout the event space
  • A family-style meal with food passed around the table
  • A cocktail-style reception with waiters circulating the space serving food
  • Food served from food trucks

Each of these come in at a different price point and should be discussed with your caterer.  Also, different venues lend themselves better to certain styles of food service so talk to your venue about what they suggest specifically for your event.  Consider the general atmosphere you want your event to have.  Opt to have your dinner served by waiters if you want your event to feel very formal, but go for a buffet or food stations if you would prefer your guest be up mingling.

Kentucky Wedding Caterer- Food Truck
Kentucky Wedding Caterer- Gelato Food Truck
Kentucky Wedding Caterer- Food Truck

Other than food, what else do I want my caterer to provide?

Your caterer can provide a lot more than just food.  Caterers can, for example, cut and serve your cake, replenish tables of food not provided by the caterer (ex. candy bar), clear tables, remove trash and provide bar service.  Many caterers can also provide linens, flatware, dinnerware, serving dishes, drink dispensers and so much more.  Additional fees apply of course and please don’t assume that those services are included.  The key is making sure the caterer knows in advance exactly what products and services you are wanting them to handle so they price their services appropriately and come prepared on the day of your event.  We suggest getting everything in writing on an itemized invoice instead of assuming anything about what your caterer will do the day of your event.

Kentucky wedding caterer for barn reception
Catering by Sassy Spoon Catering and photography by Honey Heart Photography.

What am I forgetting to talk to my caterer about?

  • Discuss in detail the schedule of events as they relate to your caterer.  What time will they arrive and depart?  When and how do you want food and beverages served?
  • Talk about the event setup since the caterer will have various table and linen requirements based on what’s being served.
  • Determine how each food item will be displayed.  A beautiful food display is not guaranteed. Don’t forget about the drinks and desserts.  It’s also helpful to have labels for your food items. Will the caterer provide those labels?
  • Be sure to discuss all venue rules and restrictions in order to prevent issues the day of your event.
  • Let your caterer know if you or any of your guests have food restrictions, food allergies and/or food sensitivities.
Kentucky Wedding Caterer for Barn Reception- Lemonade stand, naked cake and cupcakes
Photography by Daring Tales of Darling Bones

Enjoy the process of finding your caterer and deciding on the food you want at your wedding.  Caterers love food and usually are more than happy to get creative with you.  Know that caterers are very busy people doing a very difficult job.  I think it is the hardest job in the wedding industry.  So, respect them, their time and their opinions.  Respect and planning will get you a long way toward having delicious food and exceptional service at your wedding!

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