D'Vine Cuisine (Salad)
D'Vine Cuisine (Plated)
D'Vine Cuisine (Fruit & Cheese Platters)
D'Vine Cuisine (Buffet)
Epicures (Buffet Line)
Epicures (Fruit Table)
Napa Flats (Bowtie Pasta)
Napa Flats (Wood-Fired Oven)
Napa Flats (Pasta)
Napa Flats (Margherita Pizza)
By: Maricella Raiford
Contributions by: Leigha/Napa Flats, Allie/Epicures, and Kantessa/D’Vine Cuisine
What should a bride know before meeting with a possible caterer?
Your first meeting with a potential caterer is going to be a slightly overwhelming experience. Here are a few things to know to ensure that you are prepared.
Budget– Having a set budget for food will help your caterer provide accurate options and services.
Idea of service and food-If you are uncertain of what your vision is, your caterer may not be able to provide an accurate quote or fulfill all of your wedding day needs.
Wedding Date– Make sure the caterer you want is not overbooked for your big day.
People in Attendance– Your caterer consultant can guide you on the types of services and menus that will work best for you and your guests.
How can you weigh the different catering options based on your particular situation?
- Buffet, family style, plated etc.
When deciding the style of service, keep in mind the type of food you are serving and your budget. Also, minimizing the time during dinner service is very important to allow everyone a chance to eat together. For a larger guest list, a served buffet will be the most cost effective and efficient option. Family style is a fun alternative, but a little more intimate, and well suited for a guest list of mostly family members, just be mindful of your table size and centerpieces. Plated is the most formal, and typically the most expensive of these services. It is ideal if you are tight on dining space. If you have it in your budget, it will surely make for a great experience.
What are some ways to save money when planning these catering options?
Deciding the style of reception is key for staying within budget. Pick the menu that you truly want, even if it is a little more expensive. There are other areas you can cut costs on to have your desired menu. For instance, consider china vs. disposable. This is a huge area that you can save on. Most caterers can provide a higher end, disposable option that will not look like you just picked everything up from the store. Figure out if some items are cheaper to buy yourself. You can also have the caterer provide items such as silverware, cups, linens, etc. At the end of it all, your guests will not be thinking about if they did or did not have a gold rim on their plate, but rather that they had a delicious meal that they wish they could have all over again!
Are menu tastings beforehand recommended?
Tastings are extremely encouraged before your wedding. Taste the food before your event and feel confident in what you are serving to your guests. Keep the tasting small, only try items you are really interested in serving. This is a great time to sit with your caterer to discuss and finalize details about your big day. Your caterer wants you to feel excited and confident about the meal you have selected.
How can I include a kid friendly menu and do they count as a whole serving?
You can choose to count two kids as one adult for your pricing and they will be served a half portion of the entrée. Alternatively, an entire separate menu can be created for them. Kids can be tough, especially when it comes to eating, so try to keep in mind simple menu items like chicken alfredo, cheese pizza, mashed potatoes, or mac ‘n cheese. Each catering service offers different options and prices for kids so be sure to bring this up when requesting a quote.
What are some types of food to stay away from?
Stay away from fried foods unless your caterer has a portable fryer and can cook these items on location. The quality does not always transfer well. You do not want to serve something that was fried and then put into a warmer to maintain heat only to have lost the crispy factor to the outer coating. Take into consideration how far your caterer will have to travel. If it is a short travel time, the food will not have to hold quite as long.
Should I include multiple entrees?
Options are great! Having two entrees for your guests to choose from is becoming a very popular trend. Offering a choice of entrees can help ensure that all of your guests will find something they want to eat. It also makes it easier on you. Consider a beef and a chicken dish or a meat and a vegetarian option based on the amount of guests with food restrictions. Keep in mind, the more options you have the smaller the portions should be.
How can you create a variety of food options for guests with dietary restrictions?
Food allergies and dietary restrictions should always be fully and clearly communicated to your caterer. Give your caterer a heads up on the number of guests who may have dietary requests. If this is a lower number, your caterer will most likely make a special meal for those few guests. If it is a larger number of guests, have two entrée items; one of which will accommodate their request. Keep in mind that catering is about feeding large groups of people so it may be more costly to order one or two special plates. Consider these factors when making your budget. Overall, this is an important piece of information to discuss with your caterer ahead of time so we can ensure all of your guests are able to leave with a full stomach.
How can you determine when to include appetizers, or when to ONLY serve appetizers? On the other hand, is just having a main course enough?
The length of the ceremony and reception are good indicators in knowing how much food to order. A short ceremony and reception does not require a meal. Serving a few appetizers, cake, and punch is completely appropriate for this length of event. However, most ceremonies and receptions are longer, requiring family members and the bridal party to be onsite for 7 plus hours. Consider ordering hors d’oeuvres if you are serving a plated dinner or if the time between the ceremony and reception is longer than 30 minutes. If it is mid-day, a wide selection of small portion heavy appetizers would be enough. Have some type of food available during the cocktail hour while pictures are being taken. This can help to deter a few guests from getting too intoxicated too quickly.
If you want a constant mingle to happen between your guests for the entire duration of your reception, then just serving appetizers would be a great idea! A recent addition for some caterers is a grilling station! This keeps your guests away from all having to sit down at once or go through a buffet line but is an option that is more filling than a bite-size appetizer.
What are some tips that can make it easier on the caterer and the bride on the wedding day and the days leading up to it?
Communication! Make sure that you and your caterer are on the same page and have the same expectations. Have payment arrangements taken care of prior to the event if possible. This will help to avoid the awkwardness of asking the bride for payment after or during the reception. Also, a wedding coordinator or event planner relieves much of the stress leading up to the days before the wedding. This coordinator becomes the point of contact for all of your vendors, allowing you to enjoy your day. Do NOT be afraid to contact your caterer as much as you need to. It is critical that all details and any changes are communicated with the caterer to ensure everything plays out smoothly the day of your wedding.
Any additional comments?
“Every wedding is different and unique. Do not hesitate to ask your caterer questions. Relax, this is what we do for a living. Making sure your day goes smoothly when it comes to the food, bar and service is important to us.” Leigha- Napa Flats
“Have fun in the process! You only get to do this once for yourself and it should be fun! And trust your caterer! They are the professionals and have seen first-hand what works and what will cause possible issues.” Allie- Epicures
“Communication is key in ensuring a successful event. Be sure to let your caterer know how many guests you are inviting and your ideas for your reception. They can help you plan the right menu, and knowing your expectations will help them in their timeline.” Kantessa – D’Vine Cuisine