Choosing the right wedding catering style for your day is an important task when planning your wedding. Ask anyone who has been to a wedding before what the most memorable parts were, and often, the food features highly. No matter how much of a “foodie” you are, the catering undoubtedly plays a big part in your wedding, so it’s important to spend some time and money ensuring you nail it for your day.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a huge amount of cash, but it does mean you need to ensure the food is good and it is enough! You can nail all the other areas of your wedding, but if your guests are hungry or the food isn’t great, you can bet that’s what they will remember. Of course, your budget will play a big part in what style of wedding catering you choose, as will the style of food you want to serve and the experience you are wanting.
Starting off well!
Serving food in the afternoon for your guests after your ceremony is essential and good host responsibility. If alcoholic beverages are being served, you want to make sure there is plenty of food circulating. The most common options are canapes or a grazing table. Speak to your caterer about how many canapes they suggest you need for the number of guests you have and the amount of time and don’t scrimp on these!
The other option is to look at a grazing table. Grazing tables are great for feeding a crowd and allow guests to go back to the grazing table as often as they like and eat what they want. However, they do have a shelf life, especially if your wedding is in the height of summer and it’s a warm day – meats, cheeses & pates cannot be left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours maximum. It will likely mean there is wastage with your grazing table but again, your caterer will be able to guide you on how big your grazing table will need to be.
The Main Event!
For the main meal, the main catering styles we see at Waipuna are the plated meal, sharing platters/French style platters, buffet and more increasingly food trucks.
If you are wanting a more formal wedding, a plated meal can be a great way of staying in the theme. Your caterer may be able to give you a few options for each course which your guests can pre-select when they RSVP. This enables your caterer to know the quantities of each selection. Another way for plated meals is to do an “alternate drop”. You choose two options for each course and then guests are given one or the other option with no choice.
With plated meals, you need to be aware that the staffing costs will likely be higher due to the number of servers required to serve guests food. It also limits choice for your guests if you opt for an alternate drop and it can be more challenging for those with any allergies or special food requirements. Depending on the portion size, you may find some guests would prefer to eat more or less than what was served.
Photo credit: Anna Hart Photography
French style platters/sharing platters are super popular, and we see them loads at Waipuna! Less formal than a plated meal, rather than guests being served their own plate, platters of food come to each table for guests to share. You may have a platter of meats; some salads & vegetables and guests pass them around. Great for allowing people to pick and choose what they like and how much they like. You do need to ensure enough space is left on the tables for the platters, so make sure if you are serving sharing platters that you consider your table decorations.
Buffets are a popular option for feeding a crowd of people. Like the sharing platters, they allow guests to pick and choose what they like and go back for seconds or thirds. Buffets tend to be a more economical option – but check this with your caterer as it may not always be the case.
You do need to be aware that not everyone will be eating at the same time, and depending on how many tables you have, it can take longer for the whole meal to be finished. You will likely need your MC or someone else guiding each table when it is their turn to go to the buffet table.
Food Trucks are much more informal but a super fun way of adding a bit of personality into your day. If you are after a catering style that isn’t traditional and adds a different element to your day, a food truck could be the way to go. We have so many options in Christchurch, you are spoilt for choice. Whether it is burgers, pizzas, fish and chips or perhaps a particular cuisine, there is literally something for everyone. Depending on the food truck you go with, bear in mind it will take time for your guests to all go to the food truck and file back to the tables.
The sweet finale!
When it comes to dessert, you may opt to keep in line with what you have done for the rest of the meal, a plated main, a sharing platter to the table or a buffet. We are seeing lots of couples opt to do more finger food type desserts. Think a grazing table of desserts – really fun and definitely delicious!
Another popular option is to use the wedding cake for dessert. Often if you serve dessert, many guests overlook the cake and are too full! Serving the cake with cream or yoghurt can ensure your cake gets eaten.
If you are having kids at your wedding, don’t forget to consider what and when you will feed them. Speak with your caterer about a kid’s meal, and maybe consider feeding them earlier or as soon as your reception is underway. Hungry kids (or adults for that matter) don’t cope well with anything and parents will thank you!