Help! What Are My Catering Options?
Wedding Planning = Lot’s of Decisions (ew)
Photos taken by From the Hip
My name is Lauren and I work in Social Sales at Lionsgate Event Center. I have been working here for about 4 years now and I have learned a TON about the wedding industry. One of the biggest eye-openers was how many decisions have to be made when planning a wedding. It can be overwhelming! I mostly stay in the early stages of the planning process, so I still learn things about what happens after couples leave my realm and delve deeper into everything with their coordinators. The topic that brings up the most questions during a tour in my opinion, is catering. What type of food do you prefer? How do you imagine it being served? Is waitstaff included? Why have a waitstaff at all? What are the pros and cons of different catering options? I think if it’s your wedding, only you can decide why you want to book a certain caterer - but the least I can do is get you some info so you can better understand your decision! Let’s get into what your options are, shall we?
Ah, the classic buffet option. This is a great way to save money but still put great food on your guest’s plates. Less staff members are needed to operate a buffet so you save on labor costs - whoo hoo! And who says buffet has to be boring? You can decorate the table with beautiful greenery, candles, wood slabs, etc. to juice things up a bit. Putting them at different levels and angles almost makes it look like a really fun charcuterie board - but with more than just meats and cheeses! One of the reasons I have heard couples wanting to steer clear of buffet is the big elephant in the room. And I mean BIG. COVID. I, and probably most of your guests, don’t feel that 150 people touching the same spoon over and over is the best idea at the moment. If this is something you may be worried about, think about doing a served buffet instead! That way the only people touching the spoons are the staff members - problem solved!
What is more fun than food trucks? Nothing probably (maybe something but you know what I mean). They bring in a more carnival type atmosphere and the food never disappoints. Plus, you can have a few of them to give your guests the opportunity to pick their favorite! One thing you should know when deciding on food trucks is that the staff doesn’t leave the truck so you should probably get a staff to hold down the fort inside. That way there is still someone bussing tables, cleaning, doing dishes, etc. so you don’t have to! Another thing is they sometimes take longer to get food out to your guests (they make everything fresh to order - yum). How to fix this problem? Think about getting multiple trucks or doing heavy appetizers during cocktail hour! In our experience, having one truck per 100 guests is the perfect amount!
Family style is a great choice if you feel like buffet is too casual but plated is too stuffy. It allows guests to stay at their table instead of waiting in line at a buffet or having to go outside to order at a food truck! Plus, who doesn’t love when the food is sitting right there calling for you to eat seconds? I love family style because it brings everyone together! It really makes your wedding more intimate. Only thing with family style is you will want to think small centerpieces or make the food your centerpiece, that way it’s really easy for your guests to pass things around!
Picture this - you and your fiance each have a table set up with your favorite foods. Mine would definitely consist of authentic Mexican food and margaritas. This is a great way to bring your favorite foods into your wedding without compromising the type of food your fiance prefers! Plus, you could have items from all your favorite places on your table - like Efrain’s Green Chili, Chili’s Chips & Salsa, Cosmo’s pizza; you get the picture. It can be super customized and a fun thing for guests as well! Side note; the cost of doing stations works a little differently than buffet because each station typically needs a separate chef, whereas buffet only needs one chef. But just think how fun it would be to have a fondue AND carving station at your wedding?
Plated is awesome if you love the idea of your guests getting served! You can have a few different options to choose from and it makes your guests feel like they are at a really fancy dinner with people to wait on them. Another pro about plated is that it’s the fastest way to get everyone through dinner AND nobody misses anything! Uncle Neno cracking a funny joke in his speech, the bouquet toss, the cute shoe game that shows you both think you wear the pants, etc. There is so much fun to be had, you wouldn’t want your guests to miss out! Some things you may want to know before deciding that plated is the option for you: 1. You will have to get your guest’s to respond with their food choice. There is always going to be someone that waits past the deadline and you have to hunt down to ask if they want salmon or chicken (sad, but true). 2. You have to have more staff members to get food out quickly and hot. A good amount of staff would be 2 per 25 guests - this helps get everything out in a timely manner so that at every family gathering your future mother-in-law doesn’t bring up the fact that she almost starved at your wedding because the staff was so slow. More staff = better for all of our sanities.
Hopefully this eases your mind when it comes to deciding which catering option works best for you! Remember - It’s your wedding. You can have your cake and eat it too.