Yes, it is your day. Yes, it is the beginning of your life together. Yes, your guests should focus on you and you alone… but they don’t.
Wedding celebrations have been for centuries elaborate feasts. Even in the hardest economic times, couples and couples’ families managed to present their guests with the best of the best.
In today’s wedding market, what you serve your guests depends largely on the venue you have chosen. Most venues either have a house chef or work exclusively with a specific catering company. So if delectable food is your priority and you want to be in a driver seat when it comes to food selections, it is important to focus on venues that do not dictate your choice of caterers.
Just as there are numerous choices of venues, there are almost infinite choices of caterers.
Of course your selection will be guided by the location of your wedding and by your budget.
When you find your location, ask for caterers’ referrals and schedule some tastings. And let your mouth do the judging!
Things to keep in mind while caterer shopping:
Do they utilize locally grown, organic components? Fresh, and not frozen food?
Where will the food be prepared? On-site facilities are most ideal and promise the most yummy, not re-heated meals.
How many courses? How many choices of entrees? A lot of caterers will charge extra for a choice of entrées (due to limited kitchen space and delivery costs) but most of them should at least offer a silent vegetarian option (meaning is not listed on the menu, but available if guests ask for it). To save some money, you can also negotiate pre-planned two choices of entrées, where you give the caterer an exact count of one entrée option vs. second entrée option. Yes, the old fashion, dreaded way of including “chicken” or “fish” on your invitation. Although I would suggest a slightly classier way of presenting this issue - create a separate card (or a tab on your wedding website) with a delicious description and possibly a photo of the entrée - it will have your guests mouth watering months in advance!
Do personalize your food selections, and make sure that traditional and customary dishes are included. And make sure that the caterer will be open to utilizing a family recipe or two.
Ask to see different menus and photos of food presentation from recent weddings, preferably from the same season as your own wedding to see how they utilize seasonal components in their presentation as well as in the menu.
Does the caterer have an alcohol license? Will they provide the alcohol? Will you be able to swap some not so desirable beer/liquor selections for ones that you enjoy? Will you be able to provide some of it yourself without a fee? Make sure that their "top shelf liquor" matches your understanding of "top shelf" (ie. Absolut vs. Grey Goose).
And a pretty obvious one, but overlooked question, ask if they have food license, which would mean that they met health department standards and have liability insurance.
In my next blog, we will let them eat cake! And other sweet alternatives. In the meantime – happy wedding planning!