Choose your catering style

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With so many catering and food options for receptions, the choices can seem a bit overwhelming! One way to make this task a bit less daunting is to first consider what style of catering you’d like. From plated meals to buffets to food trucks, here are some of the different catering styles. Choose the one that best fits your wedding size, personal taste and budget.

If you’re looking for a formal, served meal, this option is for you. Plated meals typically include three courses: appetizer, entree and dessert. Be sure to send out your invitations six to eight weeks in advance so you can collect your guests’ food choices and dietary restrictions (typically from their RSVP). Then, you’ll need to communicate these to your caterer.

Probably the most common option, a buffet reception allows more freedom with the menu, as guests can pick and choose what they want – and even picky eaters will find something that catches their fancy. Since the caterer won’t know the exact amount of food that the guests will eat, the price for food will be higher, but you won’t have to pay for waiters.

Passed Appetizers
Want a more relaxed reception, without sacrificing plentiful and delicious foods? Consider serving mini-bites of different foods, allowing guests to sample a wide variety of options. Since this catering type doesn’t require seating, guests are free to roam around, much like a cocktail reception that encourages guests to mingle with one another. If you’re only serving appetizers, be sure guests know this advance, and plan for 15-20 appetizers per person.

Food Stations
Appetizer stations at weddings are a popular feature, and can be added to buffet party catering to help alleviate the long lines at the main buffet. Plus it adds a fun interactive element to the event and guests love the chance to interact with the chef. Entrees that work well at action stations include mashed potato bars, pasta stations, grilled meats, omelets, tacos, gourmet burgers, and flaming desserts. Guests will enjoy choosing their favorite menu option.

Family Style
Family-style dishes, served to the entire table, is perfect for a more relaxed and informal wedding or party. Servers will bring out food on large serving platters that guests pass around. This is an intimate way to dine and encourages guests to meet and interact with one another.

Every year, brunch weddings seem to gain in popularity – and they’re perfect for the smaller budget. Brunch style catering generally consists of lower-cost breakfast and lunch options as opposed to an elaborate buffet or plated dinner. You can eliminate the expense of an open bar (which can add thousands to your bill), and instead offer something simple like mimosas, Bloody Marys, or a glass of champagne. If you’re having an early wedding, brunch catering might be just right for you!

Food Trucks
Food trucks offer a fun and unique experience your guests won’t soon forget. They’re perfect for receptions in open-air spaces where there’s no traditional kitchen. If using a food truck for the main meal, consider hiring more than one truck for a variety of flavors. Whether you’ve got vegans or gluten-free guests, there are trucks for everyone. Food trucks are also great for serving late-night snacks for guests to enjoy after hours of celebrating and dancing.

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Questions to ask your caterer

• Do you specialize in certain types of food?

• What types of hors d’ouerves, main course and desserts do you recommend for the style and hour of my wedding?

• What is your average price range? Are costs itemized depending on the foods I choose, or is there an all-inclusive flat rate?

• Have you ever catered an event at my venue?

• Do you provide any of the rentals (tables, chairs, linens, flatware, glassware, etc.)?

• Do you offer free menu tastings?

• Do you offer special dietary options?

• Where will the food be prepared? If my reception location does not have a well-equipped kitchen, will you be able to bring your own equipment and, if so, is there an additional fee?

• Are menus fixed or can we create a custom menu?

• What is the server-to-guest ratio?

• Do you offer cake-cutting services?

• Do you have a license to serve alcoholic beverages and do you provide bar service? If we want to provide our own alcohol, do you charge a corkage fee?