Food for Thought: Working With a Caterer

February 1, 2017

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hey there, I'm BRITTNEY!

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As the Owner & Chief Celebrations Officer at Warrenwood Manor, I'm here to tell love stories, drop wedding planning tips & share my journey as an entrepreneur and historic preservationist.

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Tips for Catering your Wedding Reception

Choosing the food for your wedding can be overwhelming, but these tips can help you and your caterer plan for a tasty success.

There are so many options when it comes to deciding what food you will serve at your wedding.  Selecting a caterer can be overwhelming, but just take it one step at a time and you’ll be fine.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your caterer as you make decisions about your wedding food.

What food will you serve?

You can serve whatever food you want at your wedding reception regardless of what tradition says. Remember it’s your day! Whether you want barbecue, tacos or southern classics, there is a caterer out there that can make it happen. Just keep in mind that you are not the only person eating so think about what your guests would like too.

How much food will you serve?

Consider the time of day, your budget, the size of your guest list and your food preferences as you and your caterer determine what and how much food will be served at your reception.  You can do appetizers (aka heavy hors d’oeuvres in the catering biz), a full meal via buffet or plated meal, desserts or whatever you can think of.  Designate on your invitations whether you will be having a cocktail, dessert of dinner reception and time your event so that people know what to expect in the way of food.  No one can enjoy your event if they’re hungry. Trust your caterer when it comes to determining exactly how much food should be served, after all, the idea is to hire a professional caterer you trust!

Kentucky Wedding Caterer- Antipasto buffet for Cocktail Hour

Catering by Mickster’s Mobile Food and photography by Cassie Lopez Photography

How will the food be served?

Your options for food service are:

  • A pre-selected plated meal served by waiters
  • A buffet-style setup with all the food in one spot
  • Groupings of related food items at stations dispersed throughout the event space
  • A family-style meal with food passed around the table
  • A cocktail-style reception with waiters circulating the space serving food
  • Food served from food trucks

Each of these come in at a different price point and should be discussed with your caterer.  Also, different venues lend themselves better to certain styles of food service so talk to your venue about what they suggest specifically for your event.  Consider the general atmosphere you want your event to have.  Opt to have your dinner served by waiters if you want your event to feel very formal, but go for a buffet or food stations if you would prefer your guest be up mingling.

Other than food, what else do I want my caterer to provide?

Your caterer can provide a lot more than just food.  Caterers can, for example, cut and serve your cake, replenish tables of food not provided by the caterer (ex. candy bar), clear tables, remove trash and provide bar service.  Many caterers can also provide linens, flatware, dinnerware, serving dishes, drink dispensers and so much more.  Additional fees apply of course and please don’t assume that those services are included.  The key is making sure the caterer knows in advance exactly what products and services you are wanting them to handle so they price their services appropriately and come prepared on the day of your event.  We suggest getting everything in writing on an itemized invoice instead of assuming anything about what your caterer will do the day of your event.

Kentucky wedding caterer for barn reception

Catering by Sassy Spoon Catering and photography by Honey Heart Photography.

What am I forgetting to talk to my caterer about?

  • Discuss in detail the schedule of events as they relate to your caterer.  What time will they arrive and depart?  When and how do you want food and beverages served?
  • Talk about the event setup since the caterer will have various table and linen requirements based on what’s being served.
  • Determine how each food item will be displayed.  A beautiful food display is not guaranteed. Don’t forget about the drinks and desserts.  It’s also helpful to have labels for your food items. Will the caterer provide those labels?
  • Be sure to discuss all venue rules and restrictions in order to prevent issues the day of your event.
  • Let your caterer know if you or any of your guests have food restrictions, food allergies and/or food sensitivities.
Kentucky Wedding Caterer for Barn Reception- Lemonade stand, naked cake and cupcakes

Photography by Daring Tales of Darling Bones

Enjoy the process of finding your caterer and deciding on the food you want at your wedding.  Caterers love food and usually are more than happy to get creative with you.  Know that caterers are very busy people doing a very difficult job.  I think it is the hardest job in the wedding industry.  So, respect them, their time and their opinions.  Respect and planning will get you a long way toward having delicious food and exceptional service at your wedding!

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  1. Lillian Schaeffer

    April 4th, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I like how you mentioned trusting your caterer when determining how much food should be served. My fiance and I just finished compiling a guest list, and now that we know how many people will be there, we want to choose a caterer. We’ll definitely choose someone with judgment we trust so we can rely on them for determining how much food should be served.

  2. Bernard Clyde

    May 2nd, 2017 at 10:42 am

    I like your tip to pick what food you would like for your reception but to mindful of your guests as well. There are certain foods that just fit certain events better, depending on the event. I think the same goes for receptions as the food can do a lot to help set the mood and create a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

  3. Braden Bills

    May 17th, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I want to make sure that I get the right caterer. It makes sense that I would want to check what kinds of food they serve! That way I know whether or not I like it beforehand.

  4. Marcus Coons

    July 19th, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    I agree with you in that it is important to make sure you take into account what your guests would want to eat when choosing a caterer. It makes sense that doing this can help you choose the best menu to please your guests and make sure it will be good for you as well. Personally, I would want to make sure I take the time to compare several companies and choose the one that has the best reviews and offers the type of menu you want.

  5. Rachel Lannister

    July 25th, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you for this blog. I’m hosting a big birthday party for my older brother and we really want it to be a special day. You wrote that you should consider not only the quality of food the catering service provides, but also the type of food. I know we’ve been meaning to theme the party around a luau, so perhaps a catering service that could provide food that stays in theme.

  6. Sam Wilkins

    August 28th, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I like how you recommended going through the whole set up with the caterer before the event. That would definitely help the customer have their expectations met and the caterer would be more capable of executing their job based on what was discussed. My sister is getting married soon, maybe we should look into getting a caterer.

  7. Kyle Wayne

    October 16th, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    I like that you mention how you should make sure talk everything over when hiring a caterer. My brother is looking at food trucks for hire and wants to hire one. I’ll be sure to talk to him about talking everything out to make sure they both know what’s happening.

  8. Ashley Turns

    December 5th, 2017 at 12:36 am

    My fiance and I are getting married and I am wondering how I should work with the catering staff we hire. So thanks for pointing out how we should make sure we cover small things like how the food will be displayed at my wedding. Since I want my wedding to be absolutely perfect, I will make sure to go over every detail with the catering company we hire.

  9. Ridley Fitzgerald

    May 8th, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    We want only the best food for our wedding. I love how you listed the options for actually serving the food here. I think the pre-selected plated meal would be the fanciest option, don’t you? I’ll have to see what my fiance says.

  10. Watson Williams

    May 17th, 2018 at 11:46 am

    My fiance and I are looking for a caterer for our wedding this fall. I’m glad I came across this article since it has some really helpful tips about how I should go about finding a caterer. I’ll definitely take your advice and go over the venue rules and regulations to ensure I get a caterer that can abide by them.

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hey there, I'm BRITTNEY!

Categories

As the Owner & Chief Celebrations Officer at Warrenwood Manor, I'm here to tell love stories, drop wedding planning tips & share my journey as an entrepreneur and historic preservationist.

Wedding Inspiration

Wedding Planning

HAPPENINGS

Popular Posts

Hosting a Rehearsal Dinner

The Perfect Guest List

Destination Weddings at Warrenwood