You’ve made it down the aisle and you’ve said “I do” – now it’s time to enjoy the rest of the day and finally luxuriate in the fruits of your labor. But wait: as you’re getting ready to send your guests through the buffet line, the caterer tells you that they’ve already run out of several sides and that they’re short on waitstaff. All of a sudden, you have a food dilemma at your wedding.
Thankfully, scenarios like this are easily avoided with some quality wedding planning (and a lot of communication with your caterer). Whether you prefer a full table service, a buffet, or just a simple cocktail hour with appetizers, here are 8 ways to avoid a food mishap at your wedding so dinner goes just as smoothly as the rest of your big day.
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It might seem a bit obvious, but truly, the best way to avoid food mistakes (and really any major mishaps at your wedding) is through communication. Communication between you and your guests will ensure that all allergies and special requests have been accounted for.
Staying in touch with your caterer or chef can save you from those last minute emails where you need to confirm some new additions to the guest list. Keep in contact, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or speak up if something isn’t working.
2. Stay Within Your Budget
It might be tempting to add an extra appetizer or offer another main course, but keep your budget in mind when talking with your caterers. Make sure you’re upfront about exactly how much you have budgeted for food, and the caterer can take it from there. If you only give a ballpark figure or a rough estimate of people, it can lead to problems down the line.
3. Over-Order to Avoid Food Shortages
While paying for a bunch of leftovers that have nowhere to go after the dancing wraps up might seem like an inconvenience, it pales in comparison to running out food halfway through the meal. Avoid this by talking with your chef or caterer well in advance.
4. Do Your Research
It is possible to cultivate a great relationship with your caterer, but it takes a little research and overall effort on your part first. Before you start calling restaurants to plan tastings and get rates, first ask (and look) around. Sources like Yelp and TripAdvisor, while they may seem mundane, are a good place to start.
If you end up hiring a party planner, they should already have a solid list of tried and true restaurant, chef, and caterer options to meet your needs.
Even if you love the food at a certain establishment, remember that flexibility could land you a better deal on catering!
5. Think: Buffet, Table Service, or Combination?
Both buffets and table service are popular options for wedding parties, but each have their pros and cons. Buffets give people freedom to eat what they want and get people up and moving, but sometimes overzealous guests can take more than their share.
Table service, on the other hand, satisfies guests equally but could end up leaving them at their tables for too long – cutting into valuable dance and mingling time.
One way to address this is to provide an ample assortment of appetizers, or to have the salad course already set at the table so the wait won’t seem nearly as long. Talk ahead with your venue, planner, and caterer to see how you can make sure your guests get the best.
6. Consider the Cake (and Alternatives)
So you have the food planned, you know the exact amount the caterer needs to feed your guests, and everything is falling into place. But what about the cake? Depending on your preference, the cake can be a grand affair or a modest one. Having a beautifully tiered cake might have been typical in the past, but today’s brides are thinking outside the cake box.
You can be as budget-friendly or as lavish as you like. Are you and the groom not big on sweets? Try a beautiful display of cake pops. Everything from pie, bread pudding, to cinnamon rolls and cupcakes has been featured as the desert of choice in many weddings. What would you like for your big day?
7. Have a Firm Headcount, With Minimal Wiggle Room
Here’s a tip that will have your caterer singing your praises: know how many people will be at your wedding feast. Even if you don’t know the exact total, overestimate in your favor. It’s a lot easier for a caterer to plan meals for 100-120 people rather than anywhere between 90 and 140. Before you talk to the caterer, nail down the guest list. If someone asks to bring a guest last minute, don’t feel bad saying no.
8. Know your Venue
As romantic as an outdoor wedding can be, using the beauty of nature as the backdrop for your nuptials can be a headache when it comes to feeding your guests. No matter the venue, while you’re negotiating price, make sure to check if there’s a space for the caters to set up and clean up after.
Once the party starts, it’s your time to celebrate with the loved ones who’ve gathered for your big day. Avoid any last minute mishaps with these tips, and know that at the end of the day it’s not about the venue, the food, or the cake – it’s about you and your special someone as you begin the next exciting chapter together.
Do you have any advice for planning out food for a wedding? Or even some great stories from your own big day? We’d love to hear from you! And if you’re on the lookout for fresh planning ideas, our Facebook and Pinterest are bursting with new images and ideas every day to take your wedding to the next level – enjoy!