Food & Beverages

The food and drinks you choose to have at your wedding functions/reception, takes up a humongous amount of your overall reception budget. The guests love celebrate your wedding and to party, but they also need to be sufficiently sustained during your big day. This also gives you the splendid opportunity to share your personality and panache, as well as tying everything into the theme of your liking.

Although most guests just want the food to be good and plentiful, planning what food and drink to provide can be a bit of a headache, so here are some tips to help make it easier.

Nail Down a Budget

From the number of guests to the serving style and the appetizers at the cocktail hour, every decision you make will opt for will impact cost. Establishing a budget quite early on in your planning will help you stay on track and keep the pressure off.

Start Early

An amazing wedding menu starts with the right caterer, but to get your first pick of the lot, you'll have to book them early. How early you ask? Usually around 12 months before the big day, around the same time you are scouting for wedding venues. Some venues might require you to book their in-house caterer or will give you a short list of wedding professionals they work with exclusively. Even if you are allowed to bring in your own caterer and chef, you may be charged extra for it, so request a tasting early on with the in-house one. If they are not upto your liking, then look for caterers who are flexible and excited to try out new dishes and ideas so your meal really stands out.

Know the final numbers

You should be aware of the numbers both guest-wise and financially. That will help you narrow down your food options, as well as help you to highlight what kind of space you need, should you decide on self-serve options or buffet options.

Clarify all dietary requirements and allergies beforehand

Whether you have guests who don't eat meat, gluten-free guests, or someone with a specific food allergy, talk to your caterer and do try to give them enough notice regarding any known dietary requirements for your wedding guests and about these exceptions to make sure there is an option available for everyone. Allergies or dietary preferences are the very last things your caterer might want to hear about as they are plating the food for your guests.Also as a part of your wedding invitations, it is nice to include a copy of the menu and a note to let you know of any specific requirements, prior to the big day. Nonetheless, as a backup, always include few vegetarian options in your menu.

Settle on a Style

If you desire a gourmet, delicious dinner to be the focus of the night, then opt for a formal, sit-down meal which has multiple courses. If you’re expecting singing, dancing and music to be the main event, then opt for a less formal, yet tasty and satisfying dining style and menu. That will ensure that the guests would not be weighed down by the heavy meal and can satisfactorily grab a bite before they hit the dance floor.

Go Local and Seasonal

All great chefs plan their menus around whatever is the freshest that month or season of the year. Do ask your caterer what ingredients will be the freshest around your wedding day, and then craft and build your menu around those foods items. Also, you can find the freshest options by going with regionally raised or grown choices.

Don't Risk a Mishap

Every couple wants their wedding menu to be memorable, but only for the right reasons. You might want to steer clear of potential and hazardous food poisoning and pass on raw meats or unpasteurized dairy, exotic animal produce or anything that is crazy spicy. Make sure that your caterer is familiar with the foods they are preparing as well.

Add Personal Touches

Share the story of how you met and your relationship through your wedding menu by presenting dishes influenced by the special moments and memories or things you both love to do together. It could be as simple as serving a beverage from the city where you met, or a dish that reminds you of a memorable trip you took together. Choose what speaks to you as a couple, and you can be assured that they would be crowd-pleasers.

Keep Up Appearances

Be wise and choose a caterer who cares as much about the presentation as they do about the taste and can be creative. Talented chefs can think of so multiple ways to dress up a fun and festive station serving up food and beverages everyone can enjoy.

Don't Skimp on Portions

Even if you are having a buffet, you should strive and give your caterer the best and accurate head count of your guests, and you should not try to scrimp more than they recommend. Not having enough portions of food at the reception is a surefire way to leave a cringeworthy impression on your wedding guests.

Decide on the drinks to be served

The usual practice is to involve an initial starter arrival drink, in addition to a classic white and red wine option served during the meal, followed by a swift sparkling option for the toasts. It is also worth adding soft drink options, for the teetotallers.

Decide if you have the budget for an open bar!

If you do choose to go for the option of open bar, you should decide if it involves spirits & liqueurs, or just wine, beer and soft drinks. Also you might consider limiting the time the bar is kept open, to help keep the costs down.

Choose the type of meal would you prefer: Sit-down meal?

A sit-down meal will any day be costlier than the buffet option, so do bear this in mind if you are on a budget. However, with a little planning, you can keep still costs down, by limiting your numbers, cutting down on the provided drinks, or cutting down on the courses.Another important point to consider is whether you want it self-service, a central location with waiter service or ready plated at a central location, or bought out and served to the guests by waiters, whilst you are seated.

Choose the type of meal would you prefer: Buffet food?

While it is cheaper than a sit-down meal, this is also great for the budget-conscious wedding duo. Again, you can decide to have a buffet meal where in the guests help themselves, or you can opt to have waiters serving the food to the guests, as they arrive at the buffet tables.

Outside service

It’s also great and worth checking if the venue allows the usage of outside caterers, if you are thinking of using someone whom you already know. Most venues are hospitable to such requests and even throw in complementary setup section help.

Hidden fees

Champagne toasts, cake cutting, releasing birds post the nuptials etc. If you are opting for any additional extras, make sure you check all the fees that are involved.