If your reception is going to be in a hotel, restaurant or other facility that provides food, you will need to select a meal to serve your guests. Most of these facilities will have a predetermined menu from which to select your meal. There are usually many different menus to choose from and a range of prices.
If your reception is going to be in a facility that does not provide food, you will need to hire an outside caterer. The caterer will be responsible for preparing, cooking, decorating and serving the food. Again, there will be many different choices of food and a range of prices.
There are many options available as to the actual food service. Food can be served either buffet style or as a sit-down meal. It should be chosen according to the time of day, year, and formality of the wedding. Another thing to keep in mind is the ages of the guests.
If there are a great many elderly individuals or children, a sit-down dinner is usually the better choice. Although there are many main dishes to choose from, chicken and beef are the most popular selections for a large event, followed closely by salmon. Ask your facility manager or caterer for their specialty.
If you have a special type of food you would like to serve at your reception, select a facility or caterer who specializes in preparing it. One of the new trends is to go totally ethnic, focusing on the cuisine from a particular region or country. Many catering services even have the servers dress in the traditional garb of that country.
There are many different things to consider when hiring a caterer. One of the main things to do is check to see if the location for your reception provides refrigeration and cooking equipment. If not, make sure your caterer is fully supported with portable refrigeration and heating equipment. A caterer may have to prepare much of the food in his/her own kitchen and should provide an adequate staff of cooks, servers, and bartenders.
Ask for references and look at photos from previous parties so you know how the food will be presented. One word of caution: avoid mayonnaise, cream sauces, or custard fillings if food must go without refrigeration for any length of time. Be certain that soups and sauces are kept at a steady temperature and not allowed to cool in the center.
To keep your costs down, select dishes that are not too time-consuming to prepare, or food that does not have expensive ingredients. If there is a certain something you cannot live without, ask if there is an equally tasty, yet less costly substitute.
Also, consider a brunch or early afternoon wedding so the reception will fall between meals. This way it will allow you to serve hors d’ oeuvres instead of a full meal. Another option would be to tray pass hors d’ oeuvres during cocktail hour, followed by a light meal later on.
Plan carefully and take care of your catering/menu needs at least nine months before your wedding date. Make sure that you have “taste-tested” your selections during the planning stage, checked on the availability of special ingredients and any special dietary needs of your guests. With careful planning and a great chef, this will be a reception to remember.