Wedding receptions are exciting in terms of planning, but if not done right, the process can be quite stressful. From picking your wedding venue to food tasting, a banquet needs careful planning in order to be flawless and stunning yet cost-effective. In our short guide below, we are going to walk you through catering for a wedding reception; from picking the menu format to planning on a tight budget. Wedding Reception Menu Types Before you start making a list of dishes for your wedding reception, choosing the exact style of catering you are going for is crucial for several reasons. Most caterers offer a wide variety of options from multi-course sit-down dinners to buffets and backyard barbecues. The best part is that most of these menus, regardless of serving style, offer some variation of fish and meat. If you are hosting a more informal occasion, considering offering your guests a buffet. With dishes ranging from tartlets to flank steak, this option gives your guests the option of fully customizing their meals and get significantly more food too. If, however, you prefer styling your event more formally, the plated style catering option is more suitable and would add an air of elegance for most occasions. Wedding Menu on a Budget One idea for saving money on informal events is asking your guests to bring their own alcoholic beverages - or buy them at the bar. This way, you won’t need to inflate the price of the entire banquet by asking the venue or your caterer for a bar service. Another saving idea is to serve only wine and beer so you don’t need to pay for expensive liquor. Not opting for plated catering is also an efficient way to use your budget. Make a list of dishes with your caterers and consider incorporating food “stations” into your event. Practically all caterers offer buffet options, and this could save you a lot of money on waitressing services alone. If, however, your wedding is a smaller event in the intimate company of your close friends and family, then the waitstaff cost may not be a significant factor. As far as desserts go dessert, you may be tempted to order a three-tiered cake with wedding toppers; however, skipping dessert and opting for something like a cupcake cake will save you hundreds of dollars. If you’d still prefer to have a dessert buffet, you can request other desserts like cookies, brownies, or sweet tartlets. These are much cheaper than wedding cakes and would give your guests a variety of sweets to choose from. Choosing a Caterer Picking your wedding caterer will ultimately come down to a few important factors. Level of experience and ability to handle the menu format you have chosen; Flexibility with menu options; The willingness to provide food tastings; A defined cancellation plan. Level of experience is particularly important because while many caterers offer a variety of menu types, some may have little experience in the particular format you decided to go for. Make sure you read up on reviews or even request references; a good place to start with ratings would be Yelp, Wedding Wire, and Angie’s List. Flexibility with food is also important since you or your guests may have dietary restrictions that would require substituting specific menu items. A high quality provider would not only go beyond the standard menu options but give you the option to customize your dishes without changing the final price. An ideal caterer will even take special requests, such as making your family recipe to give extra significance to the event. Your Catering Checklist Planning the food at your wedding reception should come down to deciding on your budget and event format. If you are looking to save a little money, opt for a buffet and ask your guests to bring their own alcohol of choice. If what you’re looking for is more formal, the catering option with a three-course dinner would be an elegant choice. Regardless of which menu option you choose to go for, make sure you research other couples’ testimonials for every caterer you are considering. This will give you some insight into the caterer’s speciality dishes; how flexible they are with menus; and how invested they are into meeting their clients’ personal needs. If you’d like to know more about our terms of service, we offer free consultations. Please contact us at catery.co.uk for more information.