All things Food & Catering
Updated: Jan 19
Food at your wedding is important. Many guests look forward to dinner and food can be a big impact on their overall experience (look at how much they talk about the food in 4 weddings!)
Guests want to be fed in a timely manner, be fed a decent meal, and for the food to meet their dietary requirements within reason. With that in mind let's go over all things catering that you'll need to think of for your day.
First off please don't worry about have a 5 star dining experience at your wedding. Guests will remember long term the food was really bad or really good, anything in the middle they will forget about so don't fret too much.
Think about the dinner you've had at weddings? What do you remember and what was impactful?
The food at your wedding doesn't have to be super unique or top of the line if it's not a priority for you or in the budget. If you're going with traditional staples make sure they're well cooked and seasoned.
When selecting the menu options for your wedding think about what time of year your event is, the region you're in, and if guests will be indoors or outside.
Time of year:
During warmer months guests are more often searching for brighter, citrusy and lighter food options such as fish, chicken, citrus based salads and fruit for dessert.
During cooler, winter months guests are excited to dig into heartier, warm foods such as steaks, stews, soups and richer desserts like mousse.
Depending on the location of your wedding, guests may be more inclined to eat (and drink) local favourites that the region is known for. If your wedding is in a costal city guests are more likely to choose a seafood option and if your wedding is in an orchard they may be reaching for citrusy and fruit filled options.
Much like the time of year, if guests are outside in the sun or inside by a fire it will impact their meal choice.
Keep in mind wether guests will be in direct sun/ shade or a mix if outdoor dining. The warmer and more in direct sun they are, the more likely guests are to choose those lighter, cooler, citrusy options.
If guests are indoors, think about wether they will be in air conditioning, by a fire, in a dimly or well lit room. The darker settings that offer a temperate climate are more likely to have guests reaching for stews and steaks among other warm and rich dishes.
RSVP's & Meal Choice:
This is my preferred method for obtaining guests meal selections and is most common. When guests receive their Invite either in their inbox or in the mail, they will select a meal choice when RSVP'ing.
This allows you to gather numbers easily for catering and if no one chooses a menu item you could potentially save money by taking it off the menu with the caterer.
Things to keep in mind:
- Guests may write their own menu selection outside of those listed. This can happen if you are using an e-vite platform and are unable to hide certain menu options. Or they may manually write it on their RSVP. If this happens you have the option to connect with the guest and ask which of the available options they would like, or you can choose the closest meal option available for them.
- You are likely to get at least one guest letting you know they don't like the options you have given. Or they may ask for something off the menu just for them. Let me know they menu has already been selected with the caterer and you will not be changing it (or are 'unable' to change it) and they can choose from those listed.
If you are doing a buffet style dinner this is not necessary but can still give you/catering a better idea of what guests may want more of when preparing.
Types of Catering:
Choosing the type of catering for your event can influence how fancy the event is, length of service time, and cost.
Just like it sounds, this type of catering involves the caterer preparing everything off site and arriving to drop off the food, usually in aluminum serving trays that can be placed in the oven to keep warm if needed.
Cheapest type of catering
Doesn't require venue to a have a kitchen
Dinner time not adjustable - if dinner is pushed the food will need to be placed into an oven or fridge
Requires staff (venue, planner, family & friends) to place out and clean up
No option to cook more food if needed
A food truck at your wedding can be a unique and fun experience for guests. With so many cuisines to choose from and ranging from full meals to gelato dessert and late night grilled cheese there is a food truck for almost any wedding. Food truck vendors are used to being self contained and only need a space to park and potentially a hook up for electricity or water. Having dinner be from food trucks brings a more casual vibe to the day.
Budget friendly type of catering
Does not require the venue to have a kitchen
Guests may have to wait in line
May need multiple trucks based on guest count (1 truck per 80 guests)
May have to pay for gas & travel costs
A buffet is the most common type of catering service at weddings. All of the food is placed on long tables in a line. One table at a time, guests come up to the buffet and either serve themselves or are served by staff.
Timely service and can serve large groups
Guests often over serve themselves resulting in increased food needed and increased waste
May need to pay staff to serve at buffet (decreases over serving by guests)
requires significant space for buffet tables to be set up & guests to move through
For a more intimate and casual wedding a family style dinner can make guests feel right at home. Food is placed directly on guest tables, and guests are able to serve themselves and grab seconds without getting up.
No waiting in line
Guest decides their portion size & what's on their plate
Easily grab seconds
Requires lot's of serving dishes & utensils
Guests may over serve themselves requiring more food
Requires lot's of staff to plate & bring food out
Requires more space on tables, limiting centerpiece options
The most upscale type of catering that gives guest a luxurious experience. Allows for multiple courses and guests to stay seated during dinner service.
Allows for multi course dinner
Speeches can happen during dinner service with little interruption
Most expensive dinner service
Requires the many staff to plate, serve & clear tables in a timely manner