Wedding Catering Need to Know
Wanting to find the perfect wedding catering option in Wairarapa, but don't know where to start?
I hassled one of our favourite wedding catering companies in the Wairarapa the other day, to ask them some questions...
How soon in advance should we book the caterers for our wedding? If your wedding is during peak times ie: Saturday in summer you should ideally allow for 18 months as caterers in the Wairarapa get booked out quickly. Many couples we meet get engaged over the holidays and start planning for a wedding the following year. I'd suggest 6 -12 months for other times.
What info should we prepare before talking to wedding caterers? The wedding date. Any ideas of style/theme of the wedding so that the food can tie in with this. Favourite foods/cuisines to incorporate. Any likes/strong dislikes. It's good to have a budget in mind that you are open about with your caterer so that your both on the same page from the start and the caterer can tailor a package to suit your budget and needs. Any dietary requirements or children's meals required.
Do most caterers host tastings? You have to remember that many caterers work off site for specific events so logistically, it can be a bit harder. I'm sure that most caterers would hold tastings if it was desired but at an additional cost as there is a lot of prep involved.
I can't speak for all caterers but with us we're lucky that we work from the kitchen/ and in conjunction with Coney Wines Vineyard Restaurant in Martinborough so we encourage our clients who want tastings to go out there for lunch. Whilst the restaurant menu probably won't be the same as the wedding menu you get and idea of the style, flavours and presentation of the type of food we do.
How is the cost for the wedding catering determined? Trial and error!
Remember that coming together and sharing a meal is one of the most memorable moments of the day (after the ceremony of course) so you want the food to reflect this. We can usually tailor a package to fit any budget by subtracting some elements and simplifying it. Have a realistic budget - you can't expect to have canapés and 3 course a la carte meal but only want to pay $50.00 per head. However if your budget is $50.00 per head you could still have wedding food that is special and delicious but just not as elaborate.
Remember to compare apples with apples when comparing companies. Ask for all inclusive quotes.
Are all the required catering staff included in the costings? Again all companies do this differently. We choose to include all our kitchen and waitstaff in our price per head for the ease of our clients and so there's no "guess-timate" at the end of the day. Some companies will have a price per head just for the food component and the staff is added additionally.
Do we have to pay for meals for the videographers, band and photographers at the wedding? Yes if they are still involved in your day at dinnertime (photographers may be just about to finish if they're on a shorter package or the band might not have arrived yet) but it's generally a reduced cost as they are generally just having mains.
What else do the wedding caterers provide in addition to the meal? Rest assured its not just providing a meal - At some venues, the catering team runs the whole event including pack down and lock up. Duties would range from company to company but for us we are very much customer focused so we like to provide extra touches; alcohol estimates, timelines/run off the day, arranging flowers for the cake topper, we'll meet with our clients at the venue the day before (after the rehearsal) to make sure every things in order and help alleviate any last minute stresses. You may as well utilise our experience and knowledge as we're happy to share it. I can say that fixing a day before the wedding cake disaster, tea and toast making duties for an ill bridesmaid, pinning on button holes on the father of the bride and helping granddad book a taxi are all part of our service!
What if I want to provide my own food item or beverages? Beverages no problem (depending on the venue and they might charge corkage). If we are providing the bar staff (rather than the venue) we do charge to use our Licensed Manager. Food sometimes gets a bit harder, you have to bear in mind that food quality and safety is of utmost importance so home-kill isn't going to cut it (excuse the pun) . Often clients have family who want to gift paua or crayfish. You can't buy recreation catch so providing its koha and within recreational catch limits it should be an option to have paua fritters as a canapés for example.
Do you provide the alcohol and beverages or do we? Again dependent on venue. We are happy either way
Do you provide all the equipment or will we have to rent some? If your wedding is being held at a wedding venue then the equipment should all be on site. We provide all the serving platters etc and the venue should have the glassware, crockery and cutlery included in the hire. If it's in a marquee on say the farm then everything will need to be hired in but most companies can provide you with a requirement lists.
What are some of your favourite menu items and top suggestions for catering a wedding? Weddings are such a special occasion its nice to have more opulent dishes than what you'd never cook yourself. I love serving salmon and duck on the menu as they're a treat and also lamb especially for those foreign guests. One of my all time favourite dishes is salmon with a coriander and coconut crust with kaffir lime sauce. For winter think about warming dishes that you share like slow cooked beef short ribs with chilli orange glaze.
I also really love to serve special dishes that have been designed especially for the couple for their special day with their input - for example they' got engaged in Fiji so would love some regional cuisine to feature in the wedding meal. Or the bride is Japanese so lets add in some traditional Japanese foods for a kiwi / Japanese fusion. We like our clients to have as much (or as little) input as they want.
Think outside the box a bit about food especially if you're trying to save money. Make the most of a garden venue by having a late morning ceremony followed by a long Italian style lunch under the trees . Lunchtime meals will be lighter and cheaper and your alcohol consumption will be reduced.
Any final words of wisdom? Don't try and please everyone else with your menu choices as you never will! Its your day so choose the food that you both love even if that is shellfish and blue cheese!
Massive thanks to Marise, from Crescendo Cuisine for taking the time out to help!