They say there are three things people remember about a wedding: the Dress, the Food, the Music. The majority seem to think that if there’s one thing you should splurge on when it comes to your wedding, it should be the food. Never mind the decorations and giveaways. People will most likely talk about how well they were fed at your reception. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should drastically exceed your budget. But neither should you settle for cheap foodstuffs just to feed your crowd. Here are some pointers regarding reception food and how you can choose the best option for your wedding.
Let’s Talk Budget
First things first: How much you are willing to spend on the meal? If you think you’ll need a bit more to get what you want, look at your other expenses and see what you can trim. You might skip the designer wedding shoes and new cufflinks. Instead, opt for shoes at friendlier prices that are still comfortable, and maybe your groom’s family has an antique set of cufflinks he could borrow. You might also want to rethink how many people you plan to invite. The fewer the guests, the more you can spend on each. Ask yourself: Do you really need to invite your trusty nail technician or your varsity softball coach?
Also, consider the time of day to hold your reception. You might save if you opt for breakfast or an early afternoon luncheon. Brunch fare and teatime treats are definitely not as costly as full lunches or dinner entrees.
Restaurant Reception vs. Catered
There are pros and cons to both types of venue. In a restaurant, you might not be able to execute every detail of your vision for your wedding reception. You might though, if the restaurant in consideration has a separate room. If you opt for catering, you’ll still have to factor in the cost of renting a space, chairs, lights perhaps, etc. While a catered reception might allow you to more easily customize the menu, a restaurant might limit you only to variations on their existing menu.
Buffet Style Versus Sit-Down Dinner
With a buffet, your guests may feel free to have as much – or as little – as they want. Unless you happen to have a balance, though, you could run out of a particularly popular dish before everyone is served. On the other hand, a sit-down dinner (also know as plated) ensures that everyone has an equal portion. You do need to make sure the serving size is adequate for your guests with larger appetites.
Cuisine and Add-Ons
Don’t forget about you and your groom.What do you two want? This is a prime factor when it comes to the particular restaurant or catering service you hire. You might also consider add-ons if there are particular menu items that you want especially for your reception. You could have mainly Greek dishes – at a Greek restaurant perhaps – in homage to your lineage. But if you’ve got a hankering for ice cream bars or something else interesting, there may be an option to include that in the menu.
Don’t Forget the Drinks!
For many, a wedding isn’t a wedding without liquor. Take into consideration if it’s fine just to serve beer and wine, or if you want your guests to be able to order mixed drinks. To get the best of both worlds, you can create one or two custom drinks – usually made with the bride and groom’s favorite spirits or flavors –give each guest one or two drink tickets, then offer free flowing beer and/or wine. Once you decide on the drink budget, you need not compute a precise number of bottles per head. You may have guests who don’t drink at all, or you may have small children at the reception. Both factor into your final drink headcount.
Looking for Leads
Now you know what you want to serve and how much you’re willing to spend. Your next task is to look for vendors to hire. Whether you choose a restaurant, or a caterer and a venue, keep in mind the location and parking. You need your reception to be accessible and for there to be adequate parking for your guests. As much as possible, try to have the reception within an easy drive or even a short walk from the ceremony itself. Kudos to you if you can have the ceremony and the reception in the same venue!
Do your research thoroughly when it comes to your reception refreshments. Look back at weddings you’ve attended and talk to those couples who you feel had memorable reception fare. Ask for recommendations, or go online and check out reviews. Apart from how the food will taste, be in the know regarding the professionalism of the company you’re considering. You might have really enjoyed a particular caterer’s wedding fare, but if they’re a nightmare to work with, you might want to reconsider and move on. If there is a particularly good caterer you want, but they’re a bit out of your budget, don’t hesitate to ask if their standard offerings can be adjusted to meet your needs. Just because a really swanky caterer or restaurant is on the expensive side doesn’t always mean they’re not willing to design a menu just for you!