Wedding Reception Food: 9 Things You Need To Consider Before Booking Your Meals

By  | 

When it comes to wedding planning, and in fact most event organising, food is usually a focal point. Wherever we go, good grub is a way of bringing people together and this is especially true of weddings. Of course, the meals for your reception will depend on a number of factors including the type of wedding and your budget.

So before you book, consider these 9 tips for simple wedding-food planning:

1. Does The Venue Provide Catering?

The first step is to find out whether your venue (if you have one booked) provides catering. If you have gone for a wedding package this may be part of the deal, and if not the venue might still be able to offer catering services at an additional or even reduced price.

2. Cost?

Of course, cost is going to be a huge factor in deciding on your wedding reception meals. Ideally, most people would love a top chef to cook, prepare and serve a six course meal – but this isn’t always realistic, nor is it necessary. If your budget is tight, a venue that has a good deal that includes food will be more economical, and many couples choose to make their own food with the help of family and friends. You will also need to think about the number of guests attending and what is the best way to feed them all within your budget.

3. Catering Or Homemade?

If food isn’t included in your package or your venue doesn’t have food prep facilities, it’s not essential to hire a caterer – but it can save you a lot of time and unnecessary stress. If you are organising for a chef to cook your wedding reception meals then it’s good to get this booked several months in advance. The first question you will need to ask your caterer is about their availability and whether they provide service as well as the food (they often do).

If you are doing the food yourself, you will need to organise who will be cooking and how many people you need to pitch in with preparing, serving and cleaning up. This may be a little more effort, but it is a great option if you want to reduce costs and many guests are often happy to clear up after themselves to ease the workload.

4. Sit-Down Meal or Buffet?

What kind of meal do you want at your reception? The traditional sit-down meal is one option, with set courses to keep things straightforward. You may also consider a street food-style buffet, sharing platters, or even live cooking (which can double up as entertainment).

5. How Big Do The Meals Need To Be?

Depending on what time of the day your reception is going to happen, you may need to think about the size of your meal/s. If you are having an evening reception and it has been a long day, your guests will likely be hungry and ready for a big meal. If you have an early afternoon affair or have also had a breakfast reception, then a lighter lunch buffet could be a better option. Decide how long your wedding will carry on for and organise the amount of food accordingly.

6. Theme?

You may wish to tie your food choices in with the overall theme or colour scheme of the wedding. Incorporate culture or personal tastes with a huge variety of different food styles including Middle Eastern, Italian, Oriental or good old Northern Ireland pub grub. A South American street food buffet is perfect for large weddings and will give a sense of communal sharing, allowing guests to mingle and choose from a range of dishes. Consider outdoor tapas for summer weddings or comfort food for cooler months – a set menu could also coordinate with the theme either in colour (food dye!) or in the names and style of each course.

7. Bar Or No Bar?

A key question many guests will be asking is whether there is going to be a bar or whether drinks will be provided at the table. Check your budget and the number of guests to figure out a reasonable amount of wine/champagne/beer to provide per head. If you are having a no-alcohol wedding make sure to advise guests in advance and organise soft drinks and mocktails for them to wash down their meals with.

wedding reception

8. Intolerances And Food Requirements?

It may not be easy to please everyone, but you may want to consider those with intolerances and certain food requirements so that everyone is able to enjoy food on the day. This includes gluten, wheat and dairy intolerances, nut allergies, halal and kosher food requirements or vegetarian guests. If you and your spouse are vegan or veggie and would like a meat/dairy free reception, let your guests know in advance and discuss meal ideas with your caterer/whoever is preparing the food.

9. Most importantly…

Don’t overthink it. Stressing about feeding everyone and catering to all preferences and tastes will only take away from the experience, so accept that not everyone may be happy with your choices. If you really want to avoid fussy eaters, provide emergency snacks and treats on the tables later in the day. For most people, there won’t be a problem and they will simply be glad to be a part of the fun.

By Abby Williams, Excalibur Press