How do I pick Catering?
Updated: May 4
Food & Beverage is essential at weddings. In fact, part of the timeline is filled with people sitting at a table eating the food! Without the know-how, it can be challenging to make the right choices on what to serve your guests. Is cake required? When and where can I serve alcohol? Are there ways to get creative with the food on my day? Not to worry. All your food and beverage questions will be addressed here...and will leave you hungry!
Love at First Bite
Cocktail Hour, Dinner Food, & how it is served
Cocktail Hour. Ahh, the ceremony is over...YOU ARE MARRIED! You send your guest over to Cocktail Hour to play games, hang out, and socialize while you go take photos with your family & your new hubs. So how important is food during this time? A full-blown cocktail hour usually lasts around one hour, so it is nice to have something for your guests to snack on as they sip. A nice fruit and cheese platter or chips and salsa station is always popular and appreciated. However, if you are short on cash, the food during the cocktail hour is something that can be skipped and is not required.
Dinner is Served. This is where food really matters. Not so much what they are eating but how it is being served to them...and how long it will be until they eat. They’ve invested 2 hours at your wedding so far - they don’t want to wait much longer to be fed. You could go with a Plated & Served dinner if your caterer can accommodate. This is usually the fastest way to get guests food. The only caution we give is that it does require a little leg work on your part to create escort cards and make sure everyone’s dinner request is correct.
The more efficient and affordable option is buffet. If you stick to things that are easy to put on a plate, the buffet will run quickly and smoothly. Foods like BBQ, chicken, potatoes, green beans, bread, and so on are quick and easy put on a plate. We know these items are typical “wedding food,” but it has that title for a reason - they are easy to make, affordable, and your guests can get through the buffet easily. We caution against build-your-own buffets, which serve foods like tacos. The guests will have to build their food with a dozen choices - hard or soft, beef or chicken, then the toppings to put on the tacos… This can turn a standard 45-minute buffet into a 2-hour one.
Keep these factors in mind as you look for caterers. Maybe the happy medium is having someone serving the food out of the buffet pan instead if self-serve. You want the food to be a fun process, so your guests will get on the dance floor!
Midnight Snack. Food trucks. We see the trend spreading quick and we love it! Maybe you aren’t into cake. You can hire an ice cream truck or a pretzel truck for a unique dessert idea! Marmaros will be doing a wedding in 2020 where a Waffle House truck will be coming after a few hours of dancing as a “midnight snack”. The longer you can keep your guests entertained and full, the longer they will stay to celebrate you!
Drunk in Love
Bartenders, Alcohol, & non-alcoholic drinks
Alcohol. Another hard question - are you going to serve alcohol at your wedding? Alcohol can take a reasonably priced wedding to something outrageous! There are certain things you need to know about your venue before you decide on alcohol. Do you get to bring your own? Is it a per person deal or per drink deal? Are they licensed for just beer and wine or can they serve liquor, too? Each of these will help determine how much alcohol will (or won’t) cost you.
Bartenders. This can be a tricky situation. Usually in-house caterers will provide both the alcohol and the bartenders. Both are usually included in whatever package you choose. Though it varies from state to state, most caterers will provide a bartender when they come with a staff. This is where you can bring your own alcohol and someone is provided to pour it. On rare occasions (and, like I said, it varies from state to state), you can hire a bartender from an outside party. Independent bartenders can be tricky vendors, because they allow you to provide the alcohol, but they put out a tip jar and in addition to what you’re already paying them. However, when it comes to making mixed drinks - they are the ones to hire because that’s what they do for a living!
Non-Alcoholic. Serving alcohol at a wedding is not for everyone. And as mentioned before, cutting the alcohol will save you a ton of cash. The basic package in the south is water, sweet tea, and lemonade. This covers all your bases so guests have options. You can also add soda which is a nice touch, because again, here in the south, we want our Coke with dinner. Some couples don’t want alcohol served the whole day, but they want to toast with some champagne during the speeches. This option is both classy and affordable.
Isn’t Love Sweet
Cake, Desserts, & other Sweet Treats
Cake. To some, the wedding cake is super important. To others, it’s just another part of their day. Megan was in the camp of “it’s just another part of the day” - don’t get us wrong, she had a way she wanted the cake to look, but it didn’t have to be fancy or over the top. Just look good & taste better! Many bakeries offer tastings so you can choose a unique flavor or just stick to the regular vanilla. Many of our brides choose Publix because it’s easy, delicious, & inexpensive. One thing we recommend is if you are doing a Groom’s Cake - make it a different flavor and don’t get so much of the traditional cake (unless you want to be sick on eating wedding cake for the next year only to throw most of it out).
Other Desserts. We are a bit traditional (Mallory especially) but we think every wedding should have a cake! However, with the trends today, couples tend to serve unique desserts at their wedding. Something that reflects them and brings personality to the day. We’ve seen donut walls, pies, mini-desserts, & even desserts that reflect where the couple is from (like banana pudding!). If you forgo the Groom’s Cake and do other desserts in addition to your wedding cake, see if your bakery can provide them! You might as well pay one delivery fee to one bakery instead of a few to multiple bakeries. This makes everything seamless.
How it is to be Served. One thing many couples forget is selecting a person to cut and plate the cake after they’ve cut it as a couple. This isn’t a big deal if it falls through the cracks, but it makes it easier going into your day if either the caterer or the planner knows this is their job.
There are a lot of decisions to be made on your wedding day, but the one that possibly is the most important to your guests (after the timeline and flow of the day) is food and beverage! They are investing time into watching two become one, and most every guest looks forward to the food. Whatever you decide, we know it will be delicious.
- Megan & Mallory