Know Before You Book
On average, 40% of your entire wedding budget will be spent on catering your wedding reception. After you've chosen a reception venue you will have to choose between using their in-house caterer, hiring an outside caterer or catering your own wedding.
In-house wedding caterers are employed by many reception venues. They provide all food and drink services for functions held onsite. The positives associated with using an in-house caterer are that they're already familiar with the venue and can recommend a menu based on chef's specialties. In-house caterers also provide tables and chairs, linen, cutlery, glassware, trained waitstaff and even some decoration. However, if you have specific catering requests, such as vegetarian/Kosher meals, an outside caterer might be a better option.
Outside wedding caterers are employed if there isn't an in-house caterer at your reception venue or if the in-house caterer can't accommodate your special menu requests. Choose an outside caterer based on recommendations from friends and relatives, or flip through the Yellow Pages and make some inquiries by telephone. Once you have a short list of 2 to 5 caterers you should arrange appointments to discuss menu requests, catering prices and services. At your catering appointment ask to see and taste from sample wedding menus, see a complete table setting and ask for references from past weddings. Once you've narrowed down your choices decide based on cost.
Ask your caterer these questions:
- Do you offer set menus or custom menus (with family dishes)?
- Will you accommodate special diets (Kosher/vegetarian/diabetic)?
- Is food pre-cooked or prepared onsite?
- Are you licensed?
- Is wine included? Do you charge a corkage fee if we supply our own wine?
- Are non-alcoholic drinks included (ex: soft drinks/juice/tea/coffee)?
- What services are included? Extra?
- Do you provide waitstaff and bartenders?
Self-catering your own wedding is a huge responsibility, but with enough pre-planning and the right team of dedicated catering helpers it can save you a ton of money. The simplest way to self-cater your wedding is by serving a buffet reception with 15 to 20 different hot and cold items that can be served together.
Before deciding to self-cater your own wedding:
- Do you have the time to cater such a large event?
- Do you have access to proper kitchen equipment?
- Do you have friends and relatives able to help with catering?
- Who will clear the buffet station post-dinner?
- Will you need to hire buffet servers?
- Do you have to supply your own table linens, glasses, plates, cutlery etc.