To some couples, the finest
wines and the choicest delicacies are worth splashing out on, for others,
food is secondary to entertainment, bridal attire and flowers. The choice is
yours but, as a general guide, an average 40% of the entire wedding budget
is spent on the reception. You will find more detailed advice and a
breakdown of costs in our article,
Budgeting For Your Wedding.
Once you have established a budget, it is time to decide on a venue. Many
civil ceremony venues also have room for your reception, but if you are
marrying in a church, register office or venue that cannot accommodate your
reception then you might choose a hotel, stately home, hall or pub for your
celebrations. If you want to hold your reception at a private house then be
sure you have plenty of space to comfortably accommodate all of your guests.
Now that you have decided
on the type of reception venue you want then it is time to choose between
using the in-house catering on offer, hiring an outside catering firm or
Many venues have in-house caterers that provide all the food and drink
services for celebrations held there. These caterers will be familiar with
the styles of meal that their chefs specialize in and will also be able to
provide tables and chairs, linen, crockery, glasses, waiting staff and some
If you have specific catering requirements like needing Halal or Kosher
meals then the venue may not be able to accommodate your wedding or they may
allow you to book outside caterers. Similarly, if there is no in-house
catering then ask for recommendations from the venue or friends or
relatives. Also check the Yellow Pages and local newspapers for contacts.
Draw up a shortlist of potential caterers and arrange an appointment to
discuss your specific requirements and compare prices and services. Ask to
see specific example menus, price list and testimonials from other brides
and grooms and inquire about the type of wedding packages they offer. Ask
each caterer the same questions about their service, ingredients and any
added extras so you get comparable quotes from each.
Useful questions to ask your caterer
Do you only have set menus or can we create our own?
How many options can we offer for each course?
Can any special dietary needs can be dealt with?
Can we taste a sample of your food?
I am holding my reception at home/in a marquee/in a hall. Will my food will
be pre-cooked and prepared or do you need any cooking or storage facilities?
Is wine included in a package with food?
Do you charge corkage if we buy our own wine?
If wine is provided, will we be charged for the amount of bottles ordered or
for just those that are opened?
How many other drinks are included in the package? What soft drinks are
included? (Some include a drink as the guests arrive and then a certain
number of bottles of wine per guest, along with fruit juices).
How much clearing up will be done after the reception? (Some caterers will
clear only the kitchens while others will wait until the end of the entire
evening and clear everything away. In-house caterers will usually clear up
more at the end of the evening.)
Do you provide for waiting staff in your quote?
How near the wedding date can we confirm final numbers?
This is now the least popular option because most couples
feel they have enough to worry about on their wedding day without being
responsible for the finer details of catering. Taking care of the food for
your wedding is a big responsibility, but a highly-organized bride with a
dedicated team of helpers should be able to manage. You will need to make
sure there is plenty of food for your guests, that it is well presented and
that you cater for any special dietary requirements. There is a limit to the
amount of food that can be prepared in advance. The setting out of the
reception will have to be done at the same time as the preparations for the
ceremony, and it is here, if nowhere else, that helpers can come into their
Before choosing this
option, ask yourselves a couple of questions: Do you have the time and
experience to cope with planning menus and catering for large number, access
to the right kind of equipment in large enough quantities, and a supply of
willing friends and relatives to help with this mammoth task? Perhaps one
friend could take overall responsibility for the catering with the rest of
the team reporting to him/her rather than you. This will take some of the
strain off you, but keep the cost of catering down.
It is more simple to self-cater a buffet as it is easier to estimate the
quantities of food you need and you can provide a variety of hot and cold
items that do not need to be cooked and served simultaneously. As a guide,
professional caterers allow approximately fifteen to twenty items of food
per guest, so simply multiply this by the number of guests you invite. Make
sure you have enough furniture, china, cutlery and glassware or hire from a
catering firm for the day. Some off-licenses offer a discount if you hire
glasses at the same time as ordering your wine.