Four Common Catering Misconceptions

Get the most out of your caterer with these four tips. Learn what will actually save you money and what only sounds like it will.

Choosing a caterer for your big day is one of the major decisions you will have to make.  It is no secret that wedding costs add up quickly and with there being so many options within your catering decisions, this may seem like a good place to cut down on some of your budget.  There is no harm in trying to trim some costs, but not everything you think is going to save you money will actually do so.  I am here to explain some misconceptions when it comes to catering and ways to save.  Get the most out of your caterer with these four tips, learn what will actually save you money and what only sounds like it will.

  1. Thinking an all vegetarian event will save you money
    It makes sense when you initially get the idea, but when it comes time to crunch the numbers, you may be surprised. While steak can be pricey, it doesn’t mean that vegetarian options would save you much money. Instead of looking at meat vs no meat, consider the products. Mushroom ravioli with truffle oil can cost just as much, if not more, than some meat entrees. Take into consideration the products used with each dish when you are choosing your menu items. If something is imported or out of season, it may add a few extra bucks per person.
  2. Assuming action stations are cheaper
    Actions stations are a great addition to a wedding! They engage your guests, allow them to pick how they want their food, and they can catch up with family and friends while they wait their turn. However, with each action station comes an additional attendant or two to help serve guests – and that means extra staffing cost for you. When considering action stations, don’t look at just the price per person for the station. Ask your caterer how many staff members are required to work each station you are interested in. If having solely actions stations breaks the wedding bank, choose one action station that is a must-have, and ask your caterer to help you find the right buffet to compliment it.
  3. Ordering less hors d’oeuvres than your anticipated head count
    It may sound crazy, but it happens more often than you’d think. If you have 200 guests attending, and only have the budget to feed hors d’oeuvres to 60 of them, it’s time to come up with a new plan. Think of it from the guest’s perspective – if you attended a wedding and heard people rave about an hors d’oeuvre, you’d want to try it, wouldn’t you? To avoid this, choose lesser priced hors d’oeuvres that you can order more of, or ask your caterer about their display selection. You want to make sure whatever is available to guests is available to all guests.
  4. Paying for an open bar for half of your guests
    This is not a reality. Even if his side doesn’t drink at all, how will the bartender know if they are part of the groom’s side? And how will they regulate it? If you have 250 guests and think only 100 will drink, look into other bar options. Venues and caterers offer a variety of options. If you don’t like the idea of a cash bar, consider drink tickets or a consumption bar. Both are paid by you, but they can be more affordable alternatives in this case. With drink tickets, there are different tiers of pricing depending on the type of bar available. You can purchase as many drink tickets as you wish, and then distribute them amongst the guests you know will drink. An easy way to do this is including it with their place card. Once their tickets run out, they can have the option of purchasing drinks. A consumption bar means every drink has a set price (which also depends on which tier bar you have available) each drink ordered gets tallied throughout the event. You will then get billed after the event for those drinks served. You can set limits to this as well. If your bar budget caps at $2,500, the bar can turn into a cash bar at that point. Most caterers and venues are great about allowing you to extend the cap as the night goes on as well.

It is easy to see why Brides and Grooms may see some of the above options as smart money saving ideas before they are really looked into.  It is important to make sure you evaluate and compare your options before actually making a decision.  Don’t cheat your guests out of something delicious by thinking you are saving a few bucks when in reality, you may not be.  Don’t stress, caterers are well aware that there is always a budget to aim within when planning a wedding.  A good caterer will work with you and be able to make suggestions so that you will be happy with your food choices and your spending!

6 Cool Wedding Food Ideas

6 fun and practical wedding reception food ideas that will help maximize your budget and your guests’ experience!

While a lot of hard work and planning goes into your wedding day, food is always a major part of every occasion and something your guests remember.  In order to ensure the menu of your special day gets rave reviews, here are a few fun and practical wedding reception food ideas that will help you maximize your budget, as well as, your guests’ experience.

  1. Mini is Still Big
    Small bites have a big impact!  Sliders, cones, tacos, savory lollipops, soup sips… we could go on all night. Going mini allows your guests to enjoy a variety of unique flavors without getting them so stuffed they can’t show off their dance moves.  Remember, it’s supposed to be fun, small food options allow your guests to keep it moving all night long!
  2. Family Style
    Plated dinners are always nice, but sometimes they can feel a bit too formal and hinder the fun of moving around and socializing.  If you are totally against a buffet or stations, family style is an option you may want to consider.  Going family style is a little more casual, but not quite the buffet line.  Your guests will be able to pick and choose the foods they like while also being encouraged to interact with one another.  If you are not fully convinced family style is the way to go, you can always do a semi-family style dinner.  A semi-family style dinner consists of having a plated entrée for each guest while having fun sides come out on platters, it’s the best of both worlds!
  3. Variety, Variety, Variety!
    Stations are a great way to offer your guests an interactive experience, get them up and moving, and give them a wide selection of food.  These are not your parent’s stations, it doesn’t have to be the same old carving and pasta stations.  Get a little crazy with an Avocado Martini Bar, Pulled Pork Tacos Station, Risotto Bar, Chicken and Waffle Station, you get the idea.  Be creative, there are no rules when it comes to the foods you choose for your special day!
  4. Comfort is Always Cool
    Comfort can be casual or upscale and it’s a fun way to get your guests to experiment a little bit.  Comfort food can be great, delicious, and memorable.  Take the classics and give them an unexpected twist.  Try Cajun Spiced Roasted Chicken, Greek Meatloaf, Loaded 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese, Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwich Station, Texas Chili Bar, Chicken and Waffles, Champagne and Fried Chicken, nothing is off limits.  Incorporating foods everyone loves into your wedding reception with a sophisticated twist is something all of your guests can enjoy, don’t be afraid!
  5. Cocktails
    These days, when it comes to events, the drinks are as important as the food.  It doesn’t matter if you are doing beer and wine or a super-premium open bar, it’s easy to make it fun!  Make an effort to do a custom cocktail or two, your guests will definitely want to try the drink they can only get exclusively at your wedding.  Also, offer local craft beers to make the bar a little more interesting.  Oh and by the way, did you know frozen cocktail popsicles are a thing now? YUP, who wouldn’t want to give that a try?!
  6. Finish Strong
    You’ve planned every detail up to this point, just when your guests think the night is done, hit them with your one final touch, DESSERT!  There are several ways to do this, depending on your preference, but here are a few of our favorite ideas.  Passed warm beignets or warm chocolate chip cookies, passed assorted chocolate truffle lollipops, mini milkshake shots, a chocolate fondue station, we could go on, but we think you get the idea.  Be sure to finish like you started, STRONG.  Nothing tops off a great night like satisfying your sweet tooth.

Always remember, be creative.  Any food can be made into a wedding food with the help of your caterer.  It’s your special day so if you like it, have it!  Don’t be fooled by classic weddings of the past, there are no rules to the type of food you have to serve at your wedding reception.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Caterer

A wedding caterer brings more to the table than just delicious food. Make sure you consider these 5 things before choosing a caterer for your special day!

The quality, presentation, and timeliness of the catering service you choose for your wedding day will have a significant impact on the experience of your guests. While everyone might not remember all the details of your special day, they will remember the amazing array of food they indulged in or the signature cocktail they enjoyed exclusively at your wedding.  Keep in mind, it’s not just the food and beverages that the caterer will impact. Items like linens, china, glassware, silverware, and other catering equipment are all aspects that also need to be considered when choosing your caterer. This is why choosing your caterer is such a crucial part of your wedding day preparation!

In order to make sure everything is taken care of and that you will not run into any surprises, here are 5 things you should consider before choosing a wedding caterer.

  1. Food and Beverage Flexibility
    The first thing to consider when choosing your caterer is FLEXIBILITY. It is important to make sure your caterer is flexible! You should have the ability to make changes to the menu and add your own special touches. The caterer should offer a nice variety of options but also be flexible about making changes or substitutions. Tell the staff what you like and have special hors d’oeuvres and cocktails offered just for your event.
  2. The Bar
    Next, THE BAR. Drinks are as important as food these days, especially at big events like a wedding. Whether you are offering beer and wine or a super-premium full bar, there are some easy ways to spice it up and make it fun. Offer local craft beers and some fun and interesting cocktails. Have your caterer put together a couple of specialty cocktails for you to taste. It is always fun to have a custom cocktail exclusively made for your special day, and yet another way to leave an impression on your guests. It is also important to make sure you think of those people who don’t drink! It’s always nice to have a fun non-alcoholic drink available, this way everyone can feel as though they are joining in on the celebration with their fancy glass in hand.
  3. China, Glassware, and Silverware
    Does the caterer provide china, glassware, and silverware, and is there a fee? When choosing a caterer for your wedding this is something that may not come to mind right away, and with the distraction of delicious food and drinks, who could blame you. Believe it or not, when it is itemized, china, glassware, and silverware can run $10 to $15 per person for a wedding! If you are not prepared for that expense, it could be quite a surprise. If the caterer you are considering does provide this, make sure that it includes all of the items you need and that there are no additional fees. The caterer knows exactly what food and beverages will be at your event, as well as, how much, which also means they know exactly what they need. It will be hard for your guests to eat if they don’t have enough forks. An experienced caterer will supply not only what is needed, but also, plenty of extra so you are sure not to have any shortages. Choosing a caterer who provides this service will offer you piece of mind and leave one less worry of any miscommunication.
  4. Linens
    Does the caterer offer or provide linens? This is yet another important aspect to consider that can be easily overlooked. Remember, all linens are not created equal! Make sure the linens offered or provided by the caterer are floor length linens. Nothing is worse than seeing the legs of the buffet or seating tables at a wedding. This is your wedding not a high school awards dinner, every detail matters and should be just as important to your caterer as it is to you. Again, it is better to get this through one source in order to eliminate any confusion. The less you have to deal with the better.
  5. Who is the Caterer?
    Lastly, who is your caterer? There is a BIG difference between a true catering company and a restaurant that offers catering. True catering companies cater every day and have the know-how and equipment to handle special events, and there is no event more special than your wedding! You want to make sure your caterer has the staff and equipment to take care of your event. Make sure the key people involved in the planning are going to be at your wedding to make sure it is executed properly. Sure it would be nice to have Emeril Lagasse or Rachel Ray cater your wedding, but I doubt either one of them will be in attendance to make sure your event goes without a hitch. When it comes to catering, think local and stay away from the giant chains. A true local company with catering as its main focus will dedicate the time and effort truly needed to make your special day as perfect as you imagined it.

Remember, no day is more memorable than your wedding day! A wedding caterer brings more to the table than just delicious food. Make sure you consider these 5 things before choosing a caterer for your special day!