Handbook to Wedding Catering: A Guide to Your Pressing Provision Questions
by Brynlee Handy February 17
When curating the details of the dining experience of your dreams, you might have a few questions before selecting the perfect palate for your guests to enjoy on the big day. Our handbook to wedding catering is here to help, with seasonal picks from local wedding caterers sure to wow as well as an exclusive insider scoop filling you in on the particulars – including what you didn’t even know you needed to know. Some truly ravishing shots of these divine dishes lie waiting down below, along with a note from the chef who created each one. Take a flavorful journey through this virtual tasting down below. Cheers!
Photos // Vanessa Martins Photo Co.
With Wasabi Aoili and Sesame Wonton from Culinary Art Catering
Wedding Catering Serving Options
A note from Culinary Art Catering
What should a serving process look like for a wedding? Who takes charge of that – the couple, the planner or the caterer?
The caterer definitely should take charge of this for the event. Prior to the event we would consult with the client and planner to get an overall idea of their vision, then we utilize our knowledge of event logistics to make it happen. There are times when couples have seen something on Pinterest that “looks” like a great idea; however, it isn’t necessarily a realistic way of serving a large crowd. We aren’t trying to burst anyone’s bubble. We will work with them and create even more spectacular ways to present the food! On the day of the event, our goal is to work with all the vendors to ensure a flawless event. We coordinate with the planner and the DJ to assure timing is on point and service is expedient.
What are the different catering service options for weddings?
We offer buffets, plated meals, stations and even combinations of all. This goes back to understanding the clients’ vision and developing a plan together that will deliver what they are looking for. We also take the venue, spacing, timing and number of guests into account when advising our clients on the best setups and service styles for their event.
Is bar service typically included in a catering package?
We are fully licensed by the TABC and can provide customizable bar packages to our clients. Bar services are also determined by the venue the event is being held at, as some venues provide the service in-house. Some clients choose to do BYOB for their alcohol, and this doesn’t always end up in cost savings for the client. It always tends to become a hassle for the client on the day of the event. Any savings it might equate to is overshadowed when they have to worry about purchasing, storing, transporting, and possibly running short of any of the items. We offer our bar packages to take additional stress out of the equation.
Tequila Cilantro Lime Chicken
Topped with a Tangy Tequila and Cilantro Lime Sauce from Texas Catering
Budgeting for your Wedding Catering
A note from Texas Catering
What vendors should we plan to feed, and when?
While not all of your vendors will be able to eat at the same time during your event, you should plan to feed the ones that are onsite during dinner service. The ones we most commonly see forgotten are security and venue host or manager.
How does tipping work for wedding caterers? Who all should be tipped?
This frequently asked question is one of the harder ones to answer. Some couples choose to tip a percentage of their total catering invoice, anywhere from 10%-20%, while some choose to tip each individual server/staff member. Food is such a big part of any event and there is no wrong way to show your appreciation for a job well done.
Based on your RSVP number, how much food should you plan to order?
We always suggest ordering food for your full RSVP headcount, plus your vendors.
Striped bass marinated in lime juice, mango, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno & tomato, with house-made plantain chips from COHOST
Wedding Catering Rentals
A note from COHOST
What rentals come with the food for serving purposes?
We have a wide variety of ways to serve this dish (passed in glasses or mini spoons or bamboo disposable boats, stationary allowing the guests to make their own plates) and a wide variety of dish options. The final presentation will depend on the client’s taste. We provide a wide variety of dinnerware options, both real and disposable.
What all is included in a wedding catering Dallas package?
So much but also as minimal as needed. Our services often include coordination/transportation of the food from the client’s chosen restaurant; all service equipment (chafers/bowls/platters/serving utensils); staff such as servers, chefs, or bartenders; non-alcoholic beverages; bar items like ice, mixers, glassware, equipment, dinnerware; and even some additional rentals like tables, chairs, or linens.
Heirloom Salad Board
A board of peaches, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, torn burrata, prosciutto, served with a fresh baguette and olive oil from Vestals Catering
Wedding Catering Timeline
A note from Vestals Catering
At what point in the reception should apps & dinner be served?
We usually have hors d’oeuvres ready to be passed directly following the ceremony during cocktail hour; dinner is typically after a welcome speech.
What are cocktail & beverage expectations at a wedding?
We’re seeing that many couples are opting in for an open bar and are now looking to create signature cocktails that have a meaningful tie-in to the bride and groom.
Do the bride and groom typically eat dinner at the same time as the guests?
If not, what does that process look like for them to have their meal? Couples are more often having an intimate meal at the end of cocktail hour before the reception begins.
All-natural chicken, Spanish chorizo, sofrito, bomba rice topped with lemon aioli from Magdalena’s
How Much Food Order Based on Guest Count
A note from Magdalena’s
How can a couple best calculate how much food to order for their event?
There are many variables to consider when calculating how much food to order for an event. You want to consider your guest count (of course), the duration of your cocktail ‘hour’, and how hungry your guests may be! Typically, we recommend beginning with a couple of appetizers per person. Appetizers are perfect for holding your guests over until dinner service, as they can be as light or heavy as you desire. The main entrée is pretty self-explanatory: you want to provide a protein, a vegetable, and a starch per plate. Kids’ meals are also something to think about providing. Finally, your guests will love you if you serve a late-night snack. Everyone could use a snack at the end of the night!
How can you meet a couple’s desire to be more sustainable with their wedding catering?
Unfortunately, weddings as a whole aren’t the most sustainable in nature, but there are ways to help decrease your wedding’s carbon footprint. Firstly, renting your china, glassware, and flatware is the most sustainable option, rather than purchasing disposable plasticware. If you prefer disposable plates, cups, and tableware, you should consider those made from bamboo or any recyclable and biodegradable material. As far as food goes, being environmentally conscious looks like arranging for any of your extra food to be sourced to local shelters or organizations. This ensures that your catering is not going to waste but is being enjoyed by those who are in need, as well as your lovely wedding guests. You can also locally source all of your ingredients that go into your wedding catering, although, keep in mind, this can be significantly more expensive.
Should vendors and children be factored into the catering order?
Yes, vendors and children should always be factored into catering, as all parties will be grateful. Vendor meals are typically included in your guest count, as there are typically anywhere from three to eight vendor meals in a wedding. Most caterers offer kids meals for children at weddings to ensure you are not overspending on adult meals that will go to waste.
Chopped Brisket Potato Skins
Low and slow-smoked chopped brisket, sausage, and ham mixed with jalapeño, onion, and their original barbecue sauce. Served on top of a thick-sliced baked potato round with shredded cheddar and a drizzle of barbecue ranch from Soulman’s Catering
Wedding Catering Tasting & Order Expectations
A note from Soulman’s Catering
What questions should a couple ask before booking a Dallas caterer?
What menu options and levels of service do you offer? Do you require any payment upfront? If there is an unforeseen issue, what are the cancellation policies?
How far out from the wedding should you book catering for your wedding?
We say that anywhere from six months to a year is ideal.
How does a wedding menu tasting work?
First, we agree on a date for the tasting, what menu the couple is interested in, a location, and a time. When we meet to taste, we discuss all of their options and try to answer as many questions as possible so the bride and groom know what to expect. We love to help them customize their special day!
Slow Roasted Duck Moo Shu Pancakes
Slow-roasted Peking duck, hoisin sauce, thin cut green onions, rolled in hand-made moo shu pancakes from Gil’s Elegant Catering
Dallas Wedding Catering Trends
A note from Gil’s Elegant Catering
What dishes and food styles are trending in weddings?
We are continuing to elevate street foods more and more based on our customers’ individual experiences.
How can couples be sensitive to social distancing and COVID-19 concerns with their catering?
Couples can be more mindful of the spreading of germs through self-serve options and offer more personal servings, single-servings, or even hire a waitstaff to serve food. Older guests may have a separate table to keep the more susceptible guests safe.
What unique catering presentations have you seen or are doing yourself?
We have been doing a lot of Family-style dinners and Sous Vide cooking.