Catering on a budget!

The food you serve will no doubt be one of the most important and expensive items on your event budget. Great food contributes significantly to the overall experience of this important celebration, so we recommend you spend time and effort ensuring it is remarkable while working within your budget.

For example, a popular trend is to do away with the traditional starter and just have canapés on arrival. A Charcuterie Table or Farmer’s Table groaning with pates, cheeses, continental meats, breads, pickles, fruit and berries as well as bowls of biltong and dry wors makes for an impressive start to the wedding feast!

A Gourmet Burger Buffet makes for a different kind of ‘main’! For vegetarian or carnivores, there is so much choice with many fillings and toppings with which each guest can build a bespoke burger with all their favourites and then complement it with potato wedges and an array of salads and sauces. Not your style? Then perhaps an array of casseroles and curries with roasted vegetables and crusty breads piques your interest?

A huge cost saver is to serve your wedding cake as dessert with ice cream smothered in butterscotch sauce Your cake now becomes an integral part of the meal.

So many ways to save and so many choices! When you work with a great caterer they will take into account your preferences and your budget and will guide you in making the right decisions!

Please tell me more about the gourmet burger trend

Gourmet Burger Buffets are really a fun way to entertain! Fun foods and ultra casual for that wedding that wants to break with tradition. There is a selection of Beef, Chicken and Veggie Patties with an abundance of trimmings and hot and cold sauces to smother the burger with! Add to that some yummy potato wedges and good old “slap chips” and you have a meal fit for a King!

PS: Please remember though to label all your accompaniments to make it easier when guests are building their burgers. Also, I recommend lots and lots of paper serviettes be on hand ‘cause there is just no better way to tuck into a burger than eating it with your hands!! YUM!

Should I have a served or a buffet-style menu?

I recommend the Served Meal when the style of the wedding is more formal, where you are wanting a more sophisticated feel. There is a lot more control, the menu options are usually a lot more limited but the arrival of each course at the table makes quite the impression and everyone at the table eats together. There is no movement around the venue. In our experience, it is more popular to have Served Starter and Main Courses and then allowing guest to help themselves to the Buffet Dessert where there can be a larger variety to choose from, and guests can have dessert at their leisure.

Serving Mains to the Table with the meal served on platters aka “family style” is becoming very popular. This gives your Wedding a real “Sunday Lunch with the Family” feel which is a lot of fun, very interactive and “warm and fuzzy” to boot !!

A served meal does require more food service staff than a buffet, which is an additional expense at the end of the day.

A Buffet-style Menu, on the other hand, is a good old tried and tested favourite. Buffet meals are informal, you can opt to have a bigger selection of meals on offer. I would not go overboard as you may also end up with a lot of leftover food making it expensive with you paying for food that is not eaten at the wedding. A Buffet-style also takes up a lot of space in the reception venue, so if space is a problem then a served meal may be the better choice.

I’d recommend that you don’t serve more than 60 guests from a buffet, so if for example, you have 120 guests at your reception, I’d create a double buffet (serving the same food but at two points!)

Another thing I love about Buffets is that they can also be dressed up beautifully with fresh flowers and fruit with candles and décor to match the style of your wedding.

PS: To avoid queues at your buffet I’d encourage you to ask the MC to call guests up table by table. This allows conversation at tables while other guests are helping themselves at the buffet and keeps the atmosphere relaxed.

Do I choose canapés or a harvest table?

Harvest Tables (aka Farmers Tables or a Charcuterie Board) are fashionable and all the rage but then comes the questions, eg: “Do I then need a Starter Course?”, “My mum says canapés are the way to go.” So here are my thoughts!

If you choose a Harvest Table, no starter is required. If you choose a Canapé Selection, then I’d stick with a Starter as well. A Harvest Table looks very impressive and is best suited to weddings wanting that informal rustic sort of look and feel! It is served during Cocktail Hour, groaning with an assortment of Cold Continental Meats, Cheeses and Breads and is very filling, so once your guests have helped themselves to all their favourite items, they are likely to be as full as the proverbial “tick.” So they will be quite happy to move onto Mains and Dessert.

If you are wanting to serve a Starter then it is a far better option to serve a small selection of Hot Canapés during Cocktail Hour, the portion sizes and presentation add a touch of formality. By keeping the selection simple (three or four Canapes per person if serving as a snack), the guests will have their hunger pangs appeased but will enjoy that Starter at the beginning of the reception.

PS: Don’t forget to ask your Caterer to pack a small selection from the Harvest Table or from the Canapés selection into a basket for you to enjoy during the Creative Photo Shoot otherwise you’ll all go hungry whilst your guest enjoy your hospitality!

5 top catering tips!

With 35 years experience, here are our 5 top catering tips:

1. When comparing one caterer with another, make sure you are comparing “apples with apples”. We recommend that you ask the caterer to stipulate on the quote exactly what is included in the price per head. Many caterers will not include waitrons, crockery, and cutlery, linen, and transport in the per head price so although the food price will look impressive, when you add on all these extras you may be in for a surprise and you will want to factor these costs in right from the beginning.

2. Always remember when compiling your menu to choose foods to which your guests are accustomed. Just because you love sushi doesn’t mean everybody else does as well. Simple “rustic” foods and dishes are all the rage now so remember to keep your menu uncomplicated.

3. We recommend that you check whether any of your guests with specific dietary requirements such as diabetics, vegans, lactose intolerant, gluten-free etc. so that you can make sure your caterer is aware and can plan with you accordingly. You want them to feel as important as all the other guests so don’t be afraid to ask your guests beforehand.

4. When compiling your menu, consider adding a vegetarian option as part of your menu. There are inevitably those who will forget to advise you of their dietary requirements and this option gives your caterer some flexibility.

5. Finally, when choosing your caterer, we recommend you find out as much information as you can about them (testimonials should be available as well) and that you make sure that whatever you discuss is noted.