Wedding Caterers and Catering Hire
Wedding catering can be one of the largest costs in your wedding budget, and is one of the only costs that will increase with every extra guest you invite. There are many different types of wedding caterers so you need to do your research to find which company is best for you. If the catering company is based at a venue it is termed 'In-house catering', where as mobile caterers are 'outside catering' – the term doesn’t mean that they only do marquee catering! However, some outside wedding catering companies specialise in marquee weddings and are fully set up with a proper mobile field kitchen, essential for effective marquee wedding catering.
Whether it is a sit down 3 course meal with waitresses or a wedding buffet, talk to at least three caterers to find the one that matches your budget but most importantly that you feel most comfortable with.
In-house or outside caterers
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 themed wedding receptions
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.
Hiring catering equipment
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.
Mobile bars and wine supplies
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.
Wedding Caterers and Catering Equipment Hire FAQ
How far in advance should I book my wedding caterer?
We recommend booking no later than 6 months in advance. You normally book your caterer around the same time as your venue, as some will have in-house caterers you can use.
What are ‘in-house’ and ‘outside’ caterers?
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. If your venue allows 'outside catering', this doesn’t mean that they only do marquee catering but are mobile ventors independent of the venue. This means you have much more flexibility with choice and budget, and can pick the food that you really want.
How should I choose a wedding caterer?
There are many different types of wedding caterers so you need to do your research to find which company is best for you. Talk to at least three caterers to find the one that matches your budget but most importantly that you feel comfortable with. Some venues ask that you use their internal catering team so you’ll get a good amount of food included in your package but this may be less flexible. Most venue caterers will happily customise their menu to your tastes, but be sure of your venue’s stance on caterers and ask to see their menus so you can make an informed decision.
Do I have to have a sit-down wedding dinner?
These days there are plenty of wedding catering styles, from barbeques and hog roasts to outdoor picnics or delicious hot and cold buffets which are more relaxed and informal than sit-down silver service meals but do not have to be limited to rustic venues.
Will I need to hire catering equipment?
Most outside catering companies bring with all their equipment which is included in the cost. But if yours doesn’t, you will have to hire the equipment separately which can add significantly to the cost so discuss with the caterer exactly what is included. Also, if you are looking for something a bit special or different, it is not uncommon to hire in catering equipment.