Sian Prior has run over 300 weddings over the last 4 years, and is the Sales And Events Manager at the Award winning CaterCaterLtd, based in Gloucestershire. Here are her tops tips when organising food for your special event:
I am a self-confessed fussy eater. I know what I like, and I like it done my way. It can take me an age to order in a restaurant. My worst nightmare? When my other half is running late to our monthly dinner with our close friends, and asks me to order for him. Now, this is someone I know supposedly well, he likes mushrooms (yuck), doesn’t like peas (the best vegetable ever), has his steak medium rare (okay- I agree there) and has to have some sort of sauce on EVERYTHING. But does he want fish and chips because it’s Friday?
Now imagine having to go through this process for the whole table, and then, not only them, but the whole restaurant… Oh, and the whole restaurant is full of my family and friends who-are-here-to-celebrate-the-best-day-of-my-life-AHHHH.
Oh – and did I mention its my turn to pay the bill?
Planning your wedding menu can be very daunting. There are so many choices out there, and even more people to cater for. Allergies, personal tastes and advice will come at you from all angles, and it can be hard not to be swayed in so many directions that you don’t know where to even start.
Well, we at CaterCater are here to help. Our Sales & Events Manager, Sian, has compiled her top tips on how to make your catering, a piece of cake!
Choose what YOU want!
At the end of the day, it’s your day; as simple as that. It isn’t unusual that family members may be helping with the costs of the wedding, but that doesn’t mean they can plan it all to their tastes without you turning up to a mystery menu. Try including them in things such as tasting evenings run by catering companies, as being able to be involved an talked through their concerns about Aunty Evie who will need her meat cremated will honestly help. Catering managers are very good at sensing how a meal has gone down (the trick is in the empty plates) and will naturally steer the conversations towards the ideas which the happy couple react best to. They been there before and will handle all the other questions held by your family with ease, and have plenty of stories and similar instances to draw from and reassure them that homemade pies can be just as elegant as smoked salmon!
What is a choice menu?
All stated options are based upon a set menu, which allows you to select one meal for all of your guests and a further option for any dietary requirements (usually this is a vegetarian option). You can also choose to have a choice menu, although this normally will incur an additional cost. Normally, this means you can then choose up to three starters, up to three main courses, and any two desserts. But do not be surprised if they ask that one of the options is a vegetarian one if required.
Either way, all dietary requirements should be covered, so any allergies, vegans, gluten-free options etc. will be safely catered for without hurting your pocket. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you may find the idea of a trio of puddings to be a fab idea, especially if you are skipping a starter (more room for pudding!) Or, ask about doing a 50/50 (so a table of 8 would have 4 of one pudding and 4 of another) split or his & hers dessert, so there is still a choice, but it’s predetermined by numbers or couples!
Send out your dinner menu
Honestly, this will be a lifesaver. If you are having a choice menu this is a must anyway, but if you have chosen a set menu, it is still important to let people know what to expect from your big day. No matter what food you choose or what service you elect (buffet, family style, sit down), I always encourage the bride and groom to have a menu printed or sent to each guest on their invitations. People like to know what they’ll be eating, just like they would at a restaurant. That extra bit to your invitation means your guests are excited and will be eagerly anticipating their dinner service, instead of fearing the unknown. And – from a practical stance – if guests have food allergies or intolerances, they can determine what items they’re able to eat and let you know in plenty of time so that your caterers can prepare them something exciting, that marries (!) well into your chosen menu.
Safe doesn’t mean boring
Everyone loves a roast dinner. So having one for your wedding breakfast seems like the simplest solution. But that does NOT have to mean you are stuck with the normal, buffet style service Tony provides so well.
Why not get everyone involved! With the rise of dessert tables and tapas menus, food is so much more than simply tasting good and keep people full, it’s an experience, so why not make it a truly memorable one for your guests! Have a look at these fantastic carving boards offered by CaterCater. Each table gets a HUGE Slab of perfectly cooked meat, which your guests can then help themselves too! There will be well done pieces on the ends, and medium/medium-rare in the middle for the carnivores of the table too- so everyone’s happy! We partially carve the joints to make sure it’s as speedy as easy for your guests to tuck in, plus, it has all your favourite accompaniments sharing’s style on the tables, so it can be just like mums! You get really good portions with this menu, often allowing for seconds. Plus, some amazing-Pinterest-worthy pictures like these from CaterCater!
How many courses?
This is a tricky one. On one hand, you are feeding everyone for the whole day, so it’s more than a simple main meal you will need to provide in most cases. But, at the same time, you do only sit done to a formal meal once in the day. Our advice is simple, spread the food out! It’s becoming more and more popular to ditch a starter, in favour of a larger selection of canapes during your photos and drinks reception. Canapes are a fantastic way of bridging the gap between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. As, whilst you are off capturing those all-important photos, your guests have a good couple of hours to relax and socialise. Canapes offer a great variety, and allow for people to have as many as they like- without spoiling their appetite as they can stop when they like. Our Posh Cheese & Pineapple sticks are a firm favourite to get everyone talking, and you can’t go wrong with a Mini bruschetta or Mini Beef Yorkshire puddings!
Truthfully, if you normally have one or two courses when you go out with friends, then go with that on your wedding day. Plus, it’s normally the same price, if not cheaper to go the canapes route; so be clever with your menu! You can always pig out on a hog roast later!
Evening food – how many to cater for?
When Catering in the evening also, my top tip is not to worry about catering for everyone. If you have 60 day guests, plus another 40 who are just coming along for the evening, CaterCater suggests that you really only need to cater for 70-80% of everyone. From experience, evening food is great, it soaks up the alcohol, keeps everyone going and is expected by evening guests that there would be a hog roast or some sort of evening buffet. BUT, not everyone will stay around after the main day. By early evening guests with young families or a longer way to travel will often day goodnight shortly after they see evening guests arrive, and the older members of your party, although appreciate the tea and coffee you may have arranged, will often miss or only pick at the evening food if they stay long enough to see it go out. Now, of course, there are guests who eat for two and are happy to save things going to waste. But at the end of the night, the last thing you want to do is think about safely storing enough sandwiches to hold an afternoon tea for all your distant relatives the following morning!
It’s not uncommon for photographers to have the provision of a meal in their contract, so it is wise to always check. They are with you all day, and do not really get time to stop. Ask your caterers about what they can provide for them, whether it’s a packed lunch or a main meal from your wedding menu so they can have a hot meal.
Don’t be afraid to go bespoke!
Look at this fab adaption of CaterCaters Eton Mess… For you Beauty & The Best Fans: ‘Try The Grey Stuff- it’s delicious!
If your day has a theme, let the caterers know, something simple such as a rustic theme could mean they serve your antipasti on boards rather than slates, and it all adds to your day! If they are unwilling to help, then maybe this helps make your decision, as you want those running your day to buy into your ideal wedding!
Your Wedding food is a representation of you as a couple, and something your guests will all remember when they look back at your day!
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