Is Catering the Right Option for Your Wedding?

There are so many options for how to serve food at your wedding. Here’s a rundown of what to consider.

By Shira Telushkin

Is Catering the Right Option for Your Wedding
Photo by Unsplash

The First Look ✨

  • Think about how many guests will be at your wedding and the expectations of the reception venue.
  • Consider the time and logistics of various options, plus what your budget allows for a wedding caterer, the types of hors d'oeuvre options, and dietary restrictions.
  • Decide how important the culinary experience is to you and your partner.

Food is a central part of any major celebration, and weddings are no exception. But when it comes to the food, there are so many choices—from a food truck wedding reception to the best wedding dessert bar ideas—for how to get your guests the best possible food. For most couples, the options include:

-Preparing and providing the food themselves, usually with the help of family, friends, and guests. -Hosting the wedding itself in a restaurant, where food is already provided. -Hosting a catered event, either buffet-style or sit-down.

The Role of Guests, Venue, and Budgets in Deciding Whether or Not to Cater

Is Catering the Right Option for Your Wedding Photo Credit // Pixabay

For smaller and more casual wedding parties, the decision to prepare and provide your food can be the right call. Maybe you want your guests to share in your aunt’s famous trays of chicken Marbella. Maybe your college roommate has always been an incredible baker. Maybe your vision is a barbeque backyard wedding with music, smoked meats, and everyone you love. Either way, not hiring a professional caterer and catering service can save you money and help the wedding event feel intimate with a custom menu.

If you’re considering this route, here are some things to think about:

  • How many guests are you planning on hosting? For wedding parties under 30 people, it can be pretty simple to figure out how to host and feed all your guests—assuming you’ll have some help. For larger events, especially any party with over 100 guests, the logistics are trickier. For that many people, you’ll need to cook in advance and make sure you have the refrigerator space to hold all the food in the weeks leading up to the big day. You’ll also need to think about transportation logistics and whether you’ll have access to onsite refrigerators, ovens, or whatever else you might need to get the food ready to eat. Unless your venue provides them, you will also need to think about providing the silverware, plates, glasses, and other necessary items for serving a large meal. And don’t forget the setup, as well as a plan for efficiently serving all that food. All of that can be a lot to handle on your wedding day.
  • What type of venue is hosting the party? You want your food to match the sort of venue you’ve chosen for your big day. A home catered wedding meal fits best in venues that are likewise fun, relaxed, and a little bit informal. A home wedding, a garden party at a friend’s house, or something in your local church would be a natural backdrop for a home-cooked wedding meal. A formal venue often requires couples to use their caterer, and might not allow for some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into cooking and serving your meal.
  • What is your budget? For many couples, catering is one of the most expensive pieces of their wedding. The food and the wedding catering cost that goes with it can be pretty expensive. It’s hard to foot that bill when you just know you could provide your guests with delicious food at a fraction of the cost. If you’re hosting a smaller wedding party or you have a large and dedicated team of wedding guests who are truly on board to help you cook this meal, then this is something you can pull off. Just remember: nixing catering isn’t always the most budget-friendly way to slash the cost of your wedding. Several hidden costs accompany cooking and serving your food.

Hosting in a Restaurant

If you’re worried about having your wedding catered because you think the food will be boring, bland, or otherwise underwhelming, one alternative option is to choose a beloved restaurant for your wedding venue. Generally, this will require a cap on numbers, but restaurants can often be booked out for weddings or a special event, and this ensures a food experience that you know and can expect.

What to Consider When Having Your Wedding Catered

Is Catering the Right Option for Your Wedding Photo Credit // Unsplash

A catered wedding is one of the more traditional options, simply because it takes away so much of the planning on your wedding day. But there are many options when it comes to catering your wedding. The most common options for a catered wedding include buffet-style or a seated, plated meal. Buffet style means the food is presented in large quantities and guests can serve themselves, often at different stations around the venue. Plated is when guests give their chosen meals to their server—usually from several options—and the meals are served individually plated at their table.

A plated meal is more formal, so if you’re looking for a very formal wedding option, this is the way to go. When considering meal choices, it’s good to be aware of the different needs of your guests. Many weddings offer fish, meat, and a vegetarian option. Think about who is attending your wedding and what you know about their dietary preferences.

Buffet-style meals are less formal but can be just as lovely and even more fun than plated meals. Again, it’s good to consider the needs of your guests when it comes to providing a range of food options.

Many couples wonder if catering is the right option for their wedding. When it comes to venues, wedding size, and budgets, Zola is here to help you figure out whether catering is the right option for your wedding.

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