by Sara A Allom
Whilst there are a thousand ways to do the food at a wedding - from fish and chip van to BBQ, from Indian banquet to a formal five course dinner - great food means happy guests, and an even more memorable day. So it's important to get it absolutely right.
So, we have compiled a top ten tips list to get you on the right track with choosing your wedding caterer, to creating your wedding menu, and to making your wedding reception meal the best your guests can remember!
There are a huge number of companies specialising in wedding catering - so make sure you start with the right one! Finalise your budget first (that will determine which level of wedding caterer you can afford), then do lots of research - ask friends for recommendations, search the Internet, and get reading your local press and wedding magazines too.
Theming is an integral part of wedding receptions. Once you have decided on a caterer - spend some time thinking about theming your wedding reception - that will really dictate the kind of wedding food you want to offer your guests. Are you looking for an urban city affair with a modern, minimalist reception (how about sushi in this case?). Or will it be a rustic, seaside affair (think about local fish and seafood).
If you have your theme and budget sorted, then of course it's the wedding menu next. You need to be clear on what you would like your guests to experience - do you want to offer canapés for instance? And of course think about what actual dishes they might like to eat - chicken is always a popular wedding choice as you can be sure that most guests will like it! Remember your wedding menu doesn't HAVE to be lavish to be good - even pie and mash can be jawdroppingly special when done to perfection!
Always remember to think about the vegetarians or food allergy sufferers amongst your guests. Certain religions too can only eat certain things - make sure you bear all this in mind at your wedding menu planning stage. And your caterer should be able to help you with options too.
What's next? The cake - of course! You can ask your caterer to provide your wedding cake for you, although many people now treat this part of the day as a separate entity and use other suppliers. There are hundreds of cake designers available who specialise in wonderful wedding cake marvels.
This side of things is crucial to your wedding caterer too. Make sure you give some thought to the timing of the food parts of the day - will you want a canapé reception for one hour? Or more? Speeches before dinner? Or afterwards?
Adding unusual bits and pieces to your wedding reception catering really makes a difference and doesn't have to be expensive. How about an ice cream van for dessert? Or bacon sandwiches at midnight? Foody favours can be lovely touches too - initialled chocolates or his and hers gingerbread men for example.
Your caterer will also be responsible for much of the wedding style too. They will be in charge of the table design and overall look and feel of the catering. China, glass, cutlery and table linen all come under the wedding caterers remit. Make sure you get to see samples of what they propose, or that you have a good idea of what you want instead!
Make sure you keep in contact with your caterer in the run up to the wedding - whilst they shouldn't be bothering you with all the tiny details, you can of course keep them up to date with any guest number changes, specific food requirements, or anything else to do with the food that you may be worrying about - they are meant to be lightening your load after all.
Finally - make sure you sit back and enjoy the day. That's the whole point of using a good wedding caterer after all - it gives you more time to relax and let someone else do the worrying!
Sara Allom gives her top 10 tips for catering at wedding receptions. She highlights the importance of reliable wedding caterers and the options you have in terms of creating a wedding menu and the kind of wedding food you want to offer.