Wedding caterers generally come in two forms. With 'in-house catering' the venue provides the wedding catering service and you need to communicate with the venue when deciding on the wedding menu. This is the easiest option as they will know the kitchen and its limitations, and will have the full cooperation of the venue staff to ensure everything works smoothly. If your venue allows 'outside catering', you have much more flexibility with choice and budget, and can pick the food that you really want.
Vintage is the new best thing in terms of wedding styles and venue decoration, but there is no reason why your catering should not be vintage themed as well. The obvious option is to have a vintage tea party, with mismatched vintage tea cups and saucers and pretty vintage napkins. Even for a more formal dinner you could use vintage crockery or vintage tablecloths to add the vintage effect.
Wedding catering in its most simple form: a barbecue or hog roast for an evening wedding reception is a relaxed and informal way for your guests to mix and get to know each other. Don't feel this is just an option for rustic barn venues, some of the UK's most prestigious wedding reception venues offer gourmet barbecues with handmade relishes and locally produced organic meats. There are also excellent fresh fish and vegetable options which will mean that everyone can enjoy food from the BBQ. Use a specialist – not just the local chap that does the village BBQ – to ensure everything looks professional, fresh and delicious.
Most outside catering companies bring with all their equipment, from chillers and ovens to plates and glasses, all included in the cost. If yours doesn’t you will have to hire the equipment separately which can add significantly to the cost. Discuss with the caterer exactly what is included.
Alcohol can account for a large part of your budget if you are serving reception drinks, wine with the meal and a free bar for the evening reception. There are savings to be had for brides organising their own caterers as most will be happy for you to bring in your own wine supplies. Check corkage charges first - it is usual for caterers to charge a hefty, but fair, corkage charge to cover the cost of chillers, glassware and bar staff to serve your drinks. Also consider what you will do with all of the surplus alcohol - or what you will do if you run out. Some catering companies can provide mobile bars for the evening reception or have the option to hire wedding catering extras such as fridges and glasses. You can import as much booze as you like from Calais at reduced costs as you don’t pay the import tax, as long as you can demonstrate to customs that it is for personal use, which includes giving it away at your wedding. Take your wedding invitation with you to France if you plan to buy wine for your wedding in this way.