The wedding catering will affect every guest at your wedding - and each one of them will have an opinion on it. Hiring your wedding caterer is a key part of the planning and is equally as important as your choices for the wedding and reception venues. The caterer for your wedding reception has the responsibility of providing the food and drinks for all of your guests after the formal service is completed and again at the evening reception. Your reception is an enjoyable and celebratory occasion, and the catering quality and service needs to be of a standard that keeps your guests in a good frame of mind. In fact, probably the best wedding catering suppliers are those that your guest didn't notice doing their job!
The location of the wedding reception will have a huge influence on the choice of catering supplier. If you're holding your reception at a hotel, then the catering service will be provided by the hotel's own chef, served by their experienced waiting staff. Many other venues offer their own catering facilities on site. If catering is not offered by the reception venue of your choice they can often recommend a catering supplier to you, based on their experience from other events held at the location. Even if the reception venue staff are able to recommend a caterer, still check them out properly - you don't want any surprises on the wedding day.
You should strive to establish that your wedding caterer reaches an acceptable standard. A caterer who is experienced in catering for wedding receptions should be able to provide you with a range of menu choices, buffet suggestions and choices and, equally as important, professional references from previous functions that they have catered (it may be worth your time and trouble to contact some of these referees for further opinion). In particular, consider their previous experience in catering for weddings, some may be able to cater a conference of thousands but have little experience with wedding receptions, whilst others may have experience with catering for smaller events but not a larger formal gathering such as your wedding reception. A caterer who is restaurant based may not be able to handle the catering for your marquee based reception quite so well, whilst an outdoor catering specialist may not be too familiar with the formal requirements of a full sit-down reception meal over several courses. We cannot stress enough that experience relative to your own wedding reception, combined with personal recommendations is a great asset to you when you are making your choice of catering supplier.
Your wedding reception catering requirements are likely to fall into two main categories, formal seated meal and/or buffet style meal. Often a wedding reception will utilise both options from the same catering supplier. The caterer may be expected to provide a formal meal following your wedding service, during which the speeches and toasts are given and, later in the evening, a buffet selection for your guests during the evening celebrations.
Generally, this is a silver service meal, where the guests are seated in a formal manner and are waited-on by the catering staff throughout the different courses. Obviously, this will require a larger number of experienced waiting staff than a buffet, and you should check to see that the caterer has sufficient experienced staff to handle this. You will need to supply the caterer with a seating plan and your preferences for the table layout at the reception venue (most experienced caterers will be happy to help and advise with this). A formal meal (and formal seating arrangement) offers little flexibility to your guests, so do try to be considerate about who you seat close to each other, as you want everyone to be comfortable and able to enjoy themselves at your wedding.
You may wish to include a copy of the menu options with the wedding invitations so that your guests know what to expect from your catering provision. Asking for pre-ordered meals can be a disaster in many respects - especially when arranging who ordered what after they are seated, and this should be avoided if at all possible. Your caterer will require a final confirmed number of guests for the meal a few days ahead of the wedding date, you should check with your chosen catering supplier to establish the timing for advising this final number.
Less formal seating is required for a buffet. However you should ensure that there are tables and chairs located in the vicinity of the buffet for your guests to use. The buffet is often a part of the evening reception and your guests may not have a specific seating place to take their food to, so this should be considered when making your plans with the caterer for the evening. A buffet is far more flexible, offering your guests a range of food options to choose from and a span of time over which to eat from the buffet. One advantage of having a buffet available for your guests is that everyone should be satisfied with the amount of food they require, regardless of the size of their appetite. Of course, because this is a less formal wedding catering arrangement, requiring fewer staff and allowing bulk preparation and presentation, the cost should be significantly less than a formal meal and the catering numbers can be a little less rigid.
Most wedding catering suppliers will be able to provide you with suggested menus, each priced according to the content, number of courses, etc. It is important that you consider that the individual price per head (and total cost) falls within your budget. Whilst some catering suppliers may be quite rigid on their selections, others will be prepared to revise the menu content to meet with any special requirements that you may wish to have. It is always better to check these details at the time that you choose your wedding caterer to avoid any disappointment afterwards. It may also be wise to check what options the caterer has available for guests with special requirements (eg. vegetarian meals, diabetics, religious beliefs, etc.). Most professional caterers have the skill and experience to be able to prepare anything that you may require on your menu, but do remain aware of any additional costs you may be incurring.
When you have reached the point where you are ready to choose a particular wedding catering company for your reception, ask about the opportunities to taste their food before entering into the final agreement. Most catering companies will appreciate your concerns to have everything absolutely right on your wedding day and will be happy to arrange for you to sample their food before making your final choice. If you have not had the opportunity to taste the food that the caterer is going to present to your guests on your wedding day, then there isn't any guarantee that the food will be prepared or presented in the way that you expect. Many catering companies will be prepared to let you sample the different menu alternatives to assist you with making your final choices.
Wedding reception catering, catering suppliers and helpful advice on planning your menu for the reception. Advice on locating and appointing a caterer for weddings of all kinds. Specialist wedding catering suppliers, wedding reception venue caterers and providers. Suggestions for special catering items for guests with special requirements, ensuring that your appointed caterer includes an allowance of food for these guests. Wedding caterers and catering suppliers based in the UK. Supplying catering and good food menus for all kinds of wedding venues, including the following locations: Scotland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Nottingham, Lincolnshire, Midlands, London, Hampshire, Kent, Essex, Middlesex, Sussex, Wales and Ireland.