Sep 09

Catering Buffet Food Drinks – Professional Wedding Preparation

Types of Catering for the Wedding Celebration

Whether you choose Professional caterers or prepare some of the food yourself, it is important to have the freedom to enjoy the reception and circulate among the guests. You need to consider a Professional caterer if your guest list exceeds 20. You might not enjoy yourself if you’re running around worrying about dirty dishes and whether or not everyone has had enough to eat.
Factors that determine your style of catering are: budget, number of guests (consider professional caterers if over 20), availability of sufficient cutlery, china, glassware, etc., time of wedding (tends to dictate how hungry your guests will be and the most appropriate type of food to provide), type of food to be served, help available for advance food preparation and on the day. Do not be over-ambitious. Avoid food that is very spicy, fat-rieh or fiddly to eat. Choose bite-size, non-drip and non-crumbly food for a finger buffet. It is advisable to fest out any new recipes beforehand.

The main options of catering are the following:
• Self-catering – prepare all the food and serve it yourself. It is advisable for your helpers at the reception not to be guests
• Partial Self-catering – prepare all the food, but hire serving staff on the day. Alternatively, have the food Professionally prepared and serve it yourself
• Professional Catering – all the food and serving staff are provided

Catering Top Tips

• If using a caterer, insist on giving a deposit, no matter how small; it will make it harder for them to dump you if they be offered a larger function.
• Make sure you have the caterer’s personal mobile phone number.
• Watch out for letters of recommendation that have the same handwriting – they could be a con.
• If visiting the kitchen of a caterer, satisfy yourself that it is clean.
• Ask for a tasting session and invite a few friends for second opinions.
• If you want to really splash out, you can hire first-class chefs from top restaurants for the day. Special touches could include serving Beluga caviar, oysters and vintage champagne.
• If you are on a tight budget you should find a caterer who will do a “lay and leave” buffet and then rope in friends to help run the reception, thus avoiding staffing costs.
• Order a large iced cake from your local bakery and don’t tell them it’s for a wedding – you’ll be amazed at the price difference.
• Order a plain iced cake and make it look more expensive by decorating it with fresh or silk flowers, or topping it with strawberries.
• Make your own cake and then have it iced professionally.
• Serve the cake instead of dessert, or have a dessert and no cake.
• If you want the cake to look grand and have three or four tiers, but you don’t need to feed that many people, a professional trick is to cut a block of polystyrene and ice it for the bottom layer – just don’t serve it!
• Add cold water to your ice buckets or boxes to speed up the cooling process. Wine will take only about ten minutes to chill down in an ice bucket.
• For a special touch, have napkins monogrammed with your names and the date of your wedding.
• If you are paying per person, watch out for companies that supply the food already skewered, or cut it in half, as this means you get less to dip than you would from a company that displays, for example, the whole strawberries for you to skewer and dip.

Self-Catering checklist for Your Wedding

Number of Guests • reception
• evening reception
• decide when final numbers are required
Timing • food preparation
• arrival of helpers
• arrival of guests
• meal
• speeches
• cutting the cake
• evening reception
• buffet
• estimated finish
• clearing away
Food • decide whether you will prepare all the food yourself or have any professionally prepared
• provision of aperitifs and canapés on arrival
• finger buffet
• fork buffet
• sit-down meal
• barbecue
• decide what can be made in advance and will freeze well
• special dietary requirements, e.g. kosher, vegetarian or allergies (produce signs for food that contain possible allergens)
• decide on the menu and prepare a shopping list
• arrange delivery of the wedding cake to reception venue, if appropriate
Drinks • drinks to be served on arrival
• purchase wine, soft drinks, fruit juice and mineral water many off-licenses will supply wine on a sale-or-return basis
• champagne or sparkling wine served with the cake
• liqueurs, brandy, port served with the coffee
• ice
• decide who will serve the drinks
Helpers • shopping
• cooking for the freezer
• preparation of food, setting-up the bar, etc.
• transportation of food and equipment to and from the venue
• serving the food and drinks (hire waiters/waitresses, if necessary)
• slicing the cake
• handing out bridal favours
• clearing away
• washing-up
Equipment • list requirements and decide what you will need to borrow or hire
see your local yellow pages or the internet for hire companies
• china
• cutlery
• glassware (many off-licenses will hire out glasses if you purchase the wine from them)
• tables and chairs
• tablecloths and napkins
• candelabra and candles
• cake stand and knife
• turn for boiling water
• coffee/tea pots
• heated trays
• condiment sets
• glass cloths
• corkscrews and bottle openers
• food thermometer and temperature probe for hot food
• rubbish sacks
• decide whether you will have sufficient fridge and freezer space. if not, approach people who may be able to offer some space

Questions to answer when Self-Catering

Who will do most of the cooking? Who will help out on the day?
Who will help out? Who will serve the food?
Where can we store food before the day? Who will do the clearing up?
What is the cooking schedule? What will we do with leftovers?
Can all the food be prepared in advance? Where will we get table linen?
Where will we get glasses? Where will we get crockery and cutlery?

Self-Catering Time Preparation for Your Wedding

• 1 month – Purchase ingredients; Prepare food for the freezer; Buy the wine, Champagne, liqueurs, etc. and arrange to hire glassware
• 1 week – continue preparation of food and prepare or purchase ice cubes
• 1 day – De-frost food; Do last minute shopping for perishables; Assemble all equipment and glassware; Chili wine and drinks; Arrange furniture and set up wedding gift table; Lay table(s), apart from food
• On the day – Set out the food; Open the wine; Remind helpers to observe good catering practice, e.g. testing the temperature of hot food and removing unconsumed food to prevent possible contamination and food poisoning

Choosing Professional Catering for Your Wedding

The wedding meal is an important part of your wedding day and something you and your guests will remember. The key is to find a caterer who will create the perfect menu, at the right price and ensure the reception goes without a hitch. These are the main steps you need to take to choose a good caterer:
• Identify suitable ones (aim for at least three) – personal experience, recommendation, good reputation, advertisement, Yellow Pages, website
• Check their availability on the date you require
• Request brochures, sample menus and prices
• Ensure you are satisfied that they can meet all your requirements and cope with the number of guests
• Consider whether to ask for references and details of their qualifications
• Confirm their availability
• Arrange a meeting to discuss your requirements: venue, style of reception, cost per head, ascertain whether they can offer a party-planning service and the cost.

Professional Catering checklist for Your Wedding

Number of Guests • reception
• evening reception
• ascertain when final numbers are required

Timings • arrival at venue
• arrival of guests
• meal
• speeches
• cutting the cake
• evening reception
• buffet
• bar closes
• finish
• clearing away facilities

Equipment • china
• cutlery
• glassware
• cake-stand and knife
• tablecloths, napkins, candelabra, candles (specify colour, if appropriate)
• heated trays
• tables and chairs, including a table to display wedding gifts flowers
• discuss whether they will provide the flowers or you will supply your own
• specify type and colour of flowers, if appropriate
• discuss where the flowers will be placed

Food • aperitifs and canapés to be served on arrival
• finger buffet
• fork buffet
• sit-down meal
• barbecue
• evening reception
• discuss menu and select from set menus or make your own suggestions
• ascertain what quantity of food is included in the price
• special dietary requirements, e.g. kosher, vegetarian or allergies
• special menu/small portions for children
• discuss delivery of the wedding cake, if appropriate
• enquire what happens to any food left over (re-plated or taken away)

Drinks • served on arrival (punch, kir, champagne, buck’s fizz, sherry, fruit juice)
• wine(s) to be served with meal
• soft drinks, fruit juice and mineral water
• champagne or sparkling wine served with the cake
• liqueurs, brandy, port served with the coffee
• decide who will supply the wine and other drinks
• enquire whether there is a corkage charge if you provide your own

You could consider buying it or on return basis from an off-license • bar equipment and ice
• specify the quantities to be served
• enquire whether they have an alcohol license if you plan to have a pay bar
Staff • agree how many staff will be provided for the number of guests
• serving food
• bar
• cloakroom staff-guest ratios: 1:15 for a buffet/1:10 for a served sit- down meal
• enquire whether they will wear uniforms
• provide any special instructions, e.g. cutting and distribution of the cake
• request bridal favours, e.g. sugared almonds, be handed out to guests
• enquire whether they can provide a master of ceremonies/ toastmaster, if required

Cost • establish whether service charge is included or if gratuities are optional
• check whether a charge is made for cleaning the room or hall after the function
• enquire whether vat is included in the prices
• determine whether there is a charge if the reception overruns
• ascertain whether there is a surcharge for small numbers
• determine their terms for breakages

Confirmation • request a detailed breakdown of charges
food, drinks, corkage, staff, service charge, delivery, travelling expenses, equipment hire, party planning, etc.
• confirm acceptance of estimate in writing and pay the required deposit

Questions to ask when hiring Professional Wedding Catering

Who will be doing the catering? When do they plan to leave?
How many people will be serving? Will any of the food be hot?
Do they provide all the crockery, etc.? Is tea and coffee included?
Do they provide table linen? Will they cut and serve the cake?
Do they provide glasses? What will happen to any leftovers?
Does the cost include drinks? Will the servers be in uniform?
Does the cost include VAT? Do their waiting staff seem pleasant and helpful?
Does the cost include insurance? Are all the arrangements in writing?
When will they arrive at the venue? How much is it going to cost?

Hiring Paraphernalia for The Perfect Catering

If you are thinking about self-catering or using outside caterers, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of equipment that is needed, and what can seem like a cheap price for food can soon begin to mount up once everything else is added on. Here are some of the things to think about.
When you are hiring equipment, find out the policies on damage, costs of delivery, and when you have to return everything that you’ve hired. You’ll probably have to pay a hefty deposit.

Main Paraphernalia List for the Catering

Main plates Linen for trestle table
Side plates Linen for dining tables
Pudding bowls Napkins
Glasses Corkscrews
Dinner knife Cake knife
Dinner fork Cake stand
Dinner spoon Bottle bin
Butter knife Large ice bags
Glasses Temporary oven and hob
Dessert spoons and forks « Serving spoons Hot plates
Serving platters Temporary refrigeration
Serving bowls Tables
Juice jugs Chairs
Trays Chair covers and bows
Trestle table Temporary flooring

Shopping List Calculator for the Wedding Catering

• 50 bottles of champagne
• 45 bottles of red wine
• 45 bottles of white wine
• 20 bottles of sparkling wine (if required)
• 60 x 2-litre bottles of soft drinks
• 50 x 330 bottles of beer

Bottles Calculator for the Wedding Catering

Bottles for Champagne Reception
allowing 2-3 glasses champagne each 50
Soft drinks options, allowing 1 serving each 12×2 litres
Orange juice or sparkling water (if required)
Bottles for Dinner
allowing V2 bottle of wine each 25 red and 25 white
Soft drinks options, allowing 2 servings each 24 x 2 litres
Orange juice, sparkling (if required) and still water and lemonade
Bottles for After Dinner Toast
allowing 1 glass each
Sparkling wine 20
Bottles for Drinking into the Night
allowing 2 glasses each 20 red and 20 white
Soft drinks options, allowing 2 servings 24 x 2 litres
Beers, allowing 50 servings 50 x 330 bottles

Glasses Calculator for the Wedding Catering

• 120 champagne flutes – 240 if you don’t have anyone to wash them between the initial reception and the toast.
120 tumblers
120 wine glasses
120 tall glasses for juice
• Ice boxes: 11 if you want to keep everything chilled from the start, or you could halve this if you have people available to keep refilling the boxes
Ice: 33 ice bags for 11 boxes
Ice: 10 bags for ice buckets
Ice buckets for tables: 10 if you have ten tables
• Corkscrews, bottle top cutters and bottle openers: 10 of each would be handy
• Boxes to contain empties: you can use the crates the bottles came in and recycle them.

Wedding Catering Food

Good food makes for a good reception, and if you provide your guests with something tasty as part of a special celebration they will certainly remember the day with affection! The food doesn’t have to be exotic and super-extravagant; a selection of well-chosen dishes with differing tastes and textures, served attractively, will give just the right impression however much – or little – you can afford to spend on the menu.

If you are using a caterer the firm will supply you with different menus to choose from, whether you are having a sit-down meal or a buffet. The prices will vary from around £10 per head for a basic, simple, linger buffet to £30 a head or more if you are having an exclusive sit-down menu using expensive ingredients. Certainly you will be able to find a menu that will be tasty and attractive to fit into your set budget. It is worth comparing the services and menus offered by caterers; don’t be afraid to ask for sample menus from many firms so that you can check their value for money.

Sit-down Meals in Your Wedding Catering Plan

If you are having a sit-down meal for more than twenty people, this will usually involve a set three-course menu that you choose in advance. Sometimes a venue will allow a choice of two or three dishes per course, but you need to check this. Others will allow a choice, but will want your guests to decide in advance. Coordinating everyone’s choice can be a bit of a nightmare, but if you are well organized, you can ask your guests for choices in an information sheet you send out with the invitation, which they can return when they reply. Don’t forget to ask guests on the invitation for any dietary requirements, and if you are serving meat or fish, it is advisable to offer at least one vegetarian alternative.

Sit-down meals can be slightly cheaper than a buffet since the caterer only has to supply the food required and there is no choice. However, staffing will be more expensive than with a buffet. When Laura and I got quotations, the sit-down meal came in a pound cheaper than a buffet, but we wanted the occasion to be less formal and for people to have more choice. For the extra pound, guests had a selection of four main dishes, three salads and three puddings. There were also lots of extras such as dips, samosas and olives. We combined the best of both worlds as people had place settings at specific tables, rather than trying to stand around eating or grabbing chairs, and they could eat a wide range of food.

Sometimes people have a sit-down meal during the day and a finger buffet in the evening. Hotels will often provide an evening buffet quite cheaply if you have already had a main meal for your guests. With a buffet, make sure anyone with mobility problems has someone on hand to help them get their food.

Sit-down Meals with ‘Safe’ Ingredients in Your Wedding Catering Plan

Sit-down meals need to be chosen particularly carefully, as generally everyone will be required to have the same food; this means that you will need to choose relatively ‘safe’ dishes that everyone will like. So dishes such as liver, seafood, curry, etc., may be best avoided, unless you know that most of your friends and relations like unusual foods. Most people go for a basic ingredient such as chicken, turkey or beef for the main course; if these are to be roasted, make sure that the quality of the roast and the vegetables is high so that people don’t feel that they are simply sitting down for a school dinner.

For something a little bit different you could arrange for a ‘safe’ ingredient to be cooked in a slightly unusual way, for instance, chicken casseroled with white wine and cream, beef cooked en crofite, chicken portions baked with bacon and mushrooms, etc. For starters and dessert again it is best to stick to something relatively safe, although a sit-down meal does at least give the opportunity to serve dishes that can’t be eaten at a buffet, for instance soups, hot desserts, etc.

Buffet as Main Meal in Your Wedding Catering Plan

If the buffet is your main meal, it is also quite a good idea to have the starter, or at least bread rolls, on the tables so that people have something to keep them going before their table is called to the buffet and don’t have to queue for both courses.
Buffets can be either finger buffets, where everything can be eaten with the fingers so that no cutlery is needed, or fork buffets. If the guests are going to be standing all the time it is best to serve a finger buffet; it can be very trying juggling a glass, napkin, plate and fork while standing – and trying to eat as well! You will also need to decide whether you are going to have any hot dishes; this is easier if you are using facilities of a hotel or restaurant which have their own good, large kitchens for heating food.

Consider Special Meal Options in Your Wedding Catering Plan

Whichever type of meal you are having, remember to check whether any of your guests are vegetarian or have other diets such as gluten-free, low salt, kosher, etc. If you are having a buffet most people will be able to select a satisfactory meal for themselves whatever their requirements, but for a sit-down meal you may need to have special portions of alternative foods available. Remember, too, that not all vegetarians eat fish or eggs, so these might not be suitable substitutions.

Cheaper Meal Options in Your Wedding Catering Plan

If you are doing the catering yourself, have a buffet and ask friends and family to each bring a dish. Or ask one of your local restaurants, supermarkets, or bakers if they have a catering service for you in your own home or local venue, or perhaps they supply all the food ready prepared for you to reheat.

Menu Ideas for Sit-down Meal in Your Wedding Catering Plan

• Typical menu for an economical, fairly safe three-course meal: prawn cocktail or melon; roast chicken with roast potatoes, carrots and peas; fruit flan and cream or chocolate gateau.
• Sample menu for a more exotic three-course meal: chilled vichyssoise or gazpacho; sole stuffed with crab and baked in white wine, served with piped creamed potatoes and broccoli mornay; fresh fruit pavlova or melon in kirsch.
• Ideas for starters: melon, avocado vinaigrette or with prawns, Florida cocktail, prawn cocktail, grapefruit, consommé, lobster soup with cream, green pea soup, minestrone, eggs mayonnaise, pâté and toast, smoked mackerel fillets, seafood vol-au-vents, smoked salmon, corn on the cob, tomato soup, deep-fried mushrooms, French onion soup.
• Ideas for main courses: baked gammon with parsley sauce, cold turkey, beef or chicken salad, tournedos rossini, beef en croute, mild chicken curry with pilau, chicken baked with tomatoes and onions, lamb cutlets and minted potatoes, pork steaks baked with apple rings, turkey goulash, steak and kidney pie, chicken and asparagus pie, turkey and bacon casserole with cream, duck with orange or cherry sauce, lobster salad.
• Ideas for desserts: Poires Belle Helene, peach melba, black forest gateau, chocolate mousse, fresh fruit salad, profiteroles, pineapple or strawberry pavlova, fruit sorbets, raspberry or apricot mousse, black cherry or raspberry cheesecake, syllabub, lemon meringue pie, apple pie with cinnamon, mincemeat tart, baked apples with raisins and cream, peaches in brandy, ice cream with hot fudge or chocolate sauce, crème caramel.

Menu Ideas for Buffets in Your Wedding Catering Plan

Dishes for a fairly conventional buffet Dishes for a more unusual buffet
Sausage rolls Salmon quiche
Stuffed hard-boiled eggs Cheese and herb straws
Scotch eggs Tomato and aspic salad
Pates Salad niqoise
Egg and cress Sandwiches Potato salad with ham and peas
Ham Sandwiches Mushroom salad
Cucumber and cream cheese rolls Chicken and apple salad
Salmon Sandwiches Waldorf salad
Cheese and onion dip Curried prawn vol-au-vents
Prawn coleslaw dip Crab or clam dip
Plain coleslaw Salmon mousse
Celery, carrot sticks, cauliflower Vegetables for dips
pieces and pepper slices to use in Pinwheel Sandwiches
dips Double-layer Sandwiches
Rice salad Cream cheese and walnut Sandwiches
Tomato and onion salad Egg and anchovy Sandwiches
Lettuce and cucumber salad Smoked salmon Sandwiches
Chicken drumsticks Asparagus rolled in brown bread
Turkey nuggets Avocado and prawn salad
Potato salad Prunes rolled in bacon
Chicken and mushroom vol-au-vents Pork and apple meatballs
Ritz biscuits Cheese and sausage meat meatballs
Cheddar and Cheshire and Edam Salmon steaks
cheeses Rolls of salami filled with cream
Crisps in several flavours cheese
Twiglets Duck pate
Mayonnaise Liver and bacon pate
Fruit salad Mayonnaise with fresh herbs
Profiteroles Thousand island dressing
Fruit mousses Lemon cheesecake
Chocolate mousse Strawberry and almond tarts
Strawberries Fresh pineapple slices Peaches in kirsch Ginger mousse Coffee gateau

The Good Catering Drinks Are Essential at Every Wedding

Once you have decided what you are going to eat at your reception, you will need to decide what you are going to have to drink. Choose the drinks to fit in to the general style and formality of the occasion, just as the food should.

Wedding Drinks Before the Meal in Your Catering Plan

If possible, arrange for the guests to have access to a drink of some sort as soon as they arrive at the official part of the reception – that is, as soon as they have deposited their coats, tidied up, and gone past the receiving line if there is one. If it is a very large, formal reception, where guests may be waiting around for quite some time before the receiving line starts, you can arrange for them to be served a first drink in a nearby lounge or attractive hallway. Traditionally, sherry is the best drink to offer at this time; you could arrange for a selection of medium or dry so that the guests have some degree of choice. Alternatively, you could offer red or white wine, or an alcoholic or non-alcoholic fruit cup. If you are holding the reception in premises where there is a bar, you can arrange for the barman to serve the guests with the drink of their choice as they arrive. At this stage, as at every other stage of the reception, make sure that there are also plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available for children and for adults who prefer soft drinks.

Wedding Drinks with the Meal in Your Catering Plan

If you have arranged a sit-down meal with a set menu, it will be easy to choose a suitable wine or wines to go with it. If you are having very exotic food, you will probably want to arrange a selection of different wines to complement the different courses. If you are having a buffet, the easiest way to deal with the drinks is to have a plentiful supply of both red and white wine and also suitable non-alcoholic drinks; this way the guests can choose what they prefer. Even if the food is a serve-yourself buffet it is generally best to have one or two people (or more, depending on the size of the reception) officially in charge of topping up the glasses.

Wedding Drinks for the Toasts in Your Catering Plan

Champagne is the traditional drink with which to toast the good health of the bride and groom, but if you are running on a fairly tight budget you may want to go for one of the less expensive alternatives, such as Asti Spumante or an ordinary sparkling white or rose wine. Even if you choose champagne you do not have to pay a fortune for the very best; many of the reputable chain stores market their own champagne at very reasonable prices. If you have been drinking white wine with the meal, there is nothing wrong in toasting the couple in the same wine, but if you have been serving red it would be more appropriate to serve a different wine for the toasts.

Wedding Drinks after the Meal in Your Catering Plan

After the meal you have numerous options for serving drinks; your choice will depend again on the tone, style and budget of the reception. After a large, very formal meal you may want to serve a dessert wine, or brandy, port or liqueurs. You may just wish to serve tea and coffee. Or, if the reception venue has a bar, you could encourage guests to buy any further drinks they want, or you could pay for, say, the first £80 and then guests could buy their own when that kitty has been used up.

Obtaining the Catering Drinks

If you are holding the reception at a hotel, restaurant or club, you may find that they insist on supplying the drinks themselves. Others may allow you to import your own drink but charge a corkage for serving it If you are arranging the drink yourselves, make sure that you deal with a firm that will provide them on sale or return; this way it doesn’t matter if you overestimate the amount needed, if the hotel or restaurant is providing the drinks, check that they will charge only for those actually consumed and not a blanket charge.

Money-saving tips for the Catering Drinks

If you have opted for self-catering or outside caterers, you will probably be supplying your own drinks. Even if you’ve chosen in-house catering, some venues allow you to provide drinks either for free or at a price per bottle, known as corkage. There can be different corkage prices for champagne and wine. Caterers make a big profit margin on alcohol, sometimes around 500 per cent, so if you are on a tight budget, supplying your own can save you a huge amount of money.

There are other ways to save money on booze – if you live near a Channel port, nip over to France for the day to stock up, but bear in mind that you need to factor in the cost of the travel and your time. Or keep an eye on supermarket websites for special offers. After Christmas, you can get some great deals on vintage wines. Tap in ‘cheap wine’ on Google, and a whole range of companies come up, from big name supermarkets to specialist wine retailers. You can also get price comparisons on sites such as kelkoo*co*uk. I would recommend a wine-tasting session before the big day to make sure you are happy with your selection. Many of these companies offer free delivery, the loan of glasses (usually at around £1 deposit per glass), huge ice boxes to keep.
If you can store your wine, you can buy in the January sales; if not, buy in January and ask for a later delivery date. You can also take advantage of online wine retailers’ discounts for first-time buyers. Ask friends and family to sign up and buy cases so you all get the discount. Or you can just buy sparkling wine or Cava instead of champagne – it is usually at least half the price.

If you are tight on budget, follow these simple tips:
• Don’t open a load of bottles and put them on tables – you might end up with a lot of half-finished bottles.
• Ask the waiting staff to keep topping people’s glasses up, or replacing finished bottles.
• If you don’t have staff, set up a table with bottles available and corkscrews – people will soon come and help themselves.
• If you are inviting some people just for the evening, don’t ask them to buy a present, suggest they just bring a bottle.

Other Catering Drink Options

On a soberer note, remember the teetotallers, children and drivers – they will need a plentiful supply of soft drinks and water. However, it is a good idea to check with parents of any young children attending, in case they don’t want fizzy drinks readily available. You won’t want a load of hyper kids running around, going crazy. A load of drunken adults running around – well, that’s another matter…

For those who don’t like wine, you may want to supply beer, or spirits and mixers. If this sounds a bit overwhelming, you can always have a bar facility. Obviously, some venues will have this anyway and you can either put a certain amount of money behind the bar or have a cash bar where people buy their own drinks. This is a good idea after the reception if people want to go on drinking into the night. One option is to tell guests that the first drink is on you, and then pick up the tab at the end of the event.
If you are holding your celebration at a venue without a bar, you can rent a bar facility complete with optics and barrels of beer. They come with or without staff. You can also supply your own alcohol or ask the rental company to provide it – they will provide all the equipment, a licence and staff. This is a good idea if you want to offer a wide range of spirits, for example.

Hiring a Catering Bar for the Wedding Celebration

If you do hire a bar, book as far in advance as possible. One supplier I spoke to, The Mobile Bar Company, already had orders for 2010-now that’s getting your drinks orders in. Because of other events requiring bars, busy times of year are the end of July, when there are summer fetes and festivals, the beginning of August, and the first weekend in September. Saturdays are always the most popular day. A good option is a Sunday before a bank holiday – this gives everyone a chance to cure their hangover before going back to work.

Considerations when hiring a bar are the cost of mileage, access to the venue and parking. Some of the equipment is very heavy, so clambering up the steps of an ancient village hall can cause problems. Another potential problem, especially in a marquee, is electricity, so you might need to hire a generator. An extension lead from a house might not cope with a bar, lighting, disco and heated trays. You don’t want to have to choose between dancing, drinking, eating or being able to see each other!

Things to Check Before for the Wedding Catering

If you are supplying your own drinks or bringing an outside bar into a venue, check that they accept the type of drink you are proposing. Some stately homes with antique rugs or furniture won’t accept red wine. Others may not allow draught beer. However, you may be able to get round it by putting down specialist matting, or serving drinks only in the marquee, even if the ceremony is in a stately home.

How much drink do you need in terms of quantity, it depends on how long your event will last, the temperature, salt content in food and the company you keep! The general guidance is to allow half a bottle of wine and half a bottle of bubbly per person and add some for those lushes of your acquaintance. People’s preference for red or white wine is fairly evenly split, with white just having the edge, especially in the summer. If you don’t want to offer an option, serve rose, punch or a mulled wine and be done with it. You also need to allow about half a litre of water per person. A 75CI standard bottle of wine or bubbly holds five to six glasses. A 2-litre bottle of water has seven to nine servings. Our caterer told us a neat trick: buy 20 bottles of posh water to go on the tables to start with and then fill them up from the tap during the course of the evening. No one will be any the wiser. He also said not to bother with sparkling water, as most people could cope with still and his tap trick wouldn’t be so convincing! Think through the day and work out how much you need of different types of drink. Go through your guest list and work out how many are big drinkers or teetotallers. It is a good idea to buy on a sale or return basis unless you have plenty of space at home and the urge to carry on drinking after the party! Also allow for glass breakage or people losing their glasses. To give you an idea, a typical shopping list of drinks is set out. This is based on drinks required for an afternoon reception followed by a sit-down dinner and then dancing until midnight, and caters for 100 people.

Alternative Wedding Service in Your Catering Plan

The wedding service is not the only part of the wedding day that can be varied according to need and preference; the reception also offers the chance for an individual touch.

Vegetarian Wedding Service in Your Catering Plan

It is possible to produce delicious vegetarian wedding fare for a formal sit-down meal or for a buffet, but if you want to use a caterer you will probably need to look for one who specialises in vegetarian food.

Kosher Wedding Service in Your Catering Plan

There are numerous tasty traditional Kosher foods that are perfect for weddings, and your families will probably have their own favourites if they are Jewish. Non-Kosher guests are unlikely to find any difficulty over eating Kosher foods.

Teetotal Wedding Service in Your Catering Plan

Teetotal weddings needn’t consist of the guests simply drinking orange squash and longing for something more sophisticated! There are many non-alcoholic wines available, both red and white, although they may well be more expensive and certainly harder to obtain than the alcoholic kind. Other alternatives are punches, exotic fruit juices and drinks such as non-alcoholic elderflower champagne.

Low Cost Wedding Service in Your Catering Plan

You may be able to afford very little in the way of festivities, but do not despair! If the weather is reliable you could invite everyone to bring a picnic to a pleasant spot in a park, garden or on a riverbank; or you could hire a hall and detail your closest friends and relations to bring a dish each, checking beforehand that you have a good spread of sweet and savory.

Thematic Wedding Service in Your Catering Plan

You may choose to have your wedding on a particular theme, such as Scottish, Japanese, Victorian; in this case you can choose a reception menu that complements the theme.

Special Catering Ideas for the Wedding Service

One couple came with the idea of Trolleys and Dollies. The Dollies are girls walking around with usherette trays filled with pork pies, warm crab tartlets, or other bits of deliciousness. And the Trolleys are like overgrown dim sum vehicles winding their way through the guests. One trolley is whole sirloins of roast beef with watercress and horseradish; another has two soups served from huge china tureens. Another has whole sides of the best smoked salmon, while yet others have bales of English asparagus with hollandaise or melted butter. The couple’s advice is that if you really care about food, don’t settle for anything less than amazing. Co in with your own ideas and don’t let caterers push you towards salmon and chicken (with pasta for the veggies). It’s your day and you deserve better than that.

Special Catering Touch at Your Wedding Celebration

One special touch to your wedding celebration is asking your cake maker to transfer photos of yourselves onto sugar icing and stick them around your cake as decoration. You can also consider taking one or a couple of chocolate fountains. They are very popular and some companies have orders two years in advance, so book as early as possible. You can choose among the following options: Hire a chocolate fountain company with staff to work the machine, hire the machine and operate it yourself (known as ‘dry hire’) or just buy your own chocolate fountain(s). Some chocolate fountain companies will only host the fountain themselves, as they want to manage and look after the equipment. Apparently, there is a lot of skill involved in making sure the chocolate flows smoothly. The chocolate fountain companies usually supply a range of fruit, such as pineapples, bananas, kiwi and strawberries, or marshmallows or fudge, on skewers to dip into the chocolate. Sometimes dipping food is charged per person or included in the hire price.

The fountains come in different sizes and can cater for between 30 and 300 people. You need to supply access to electricity and a table for each one. Make sure you don’t stand them on a precious table or tablecloth, as there are bound to be drips.
If you have a large number of guests, it may be advisable to have two or three fountains on different tables to avoid unseemly bundles or long queues. A round table, with access all around, is the best option. It is also advisable to serve children rather than leaving them to help themselves, so that they don’t make a huge mess.

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