Just picture it for a moment, your friends and family are gathered at your wedding reception, all in their finest jewellery and attire.
But Uncle Buck has just dropped marinara sauce all down his suit thanks to the mozzarella sticks your wife wanted. And your Grandma Jess can’t stop talking about how the beef tastes like chewy.
We share our experiences we have encountered catering for weddings, and provide you with tips for choosing the perfect wedding menu that will keep your guests, your in-laws and you happy.
Tip 1: Things to avoid in the appetiser line
When it comes to appetisers, get rid of the messy linguine in favour of ravioli, tortellini or penne. If you have chosen hors d’oeuvres, watch the sauces — especially ones that stain. Sauces can be served on the side or maybe that particular appetiser is better off in a buffet?.
With the carving station, we recommend slicing sirloin in a barrel cut so that the meat is more manageable for the guests that are more mobile.
Stay away from garlicky food, such as Caesar salad, and eggs, the yolk could explode on someone clothes.
Remember people are dressed nicely. Those hors d’oeuvres should be something they can eat quickly, simply and neatly. Stay clear of food with drippy sauces or even gooey cheeses.
It doesn’t need to be caviar, truffles or lobster — sometimes the best thing in a wedding is a comfort food dish like a fried chicken sandwich. People always remember that more than a dish that’s too complicated or is too hard to taste.
Just avoid appetisers with lots of sauces. They’re messy, longer to plate up and longer to prep.
Tip 2: Main dish
Avoid oily fish such as tuna for the main dish because from a catering point of view it can be easy to over cook. It’s not as forgiving as salmon, or crab. Lobster is the harder (and more expensive) to serve in larger quantities.
Stay away from dishes that have mushrooms or nuts, incase any of your guests have food allergies. Instead maybe go for for a combo platter that saves the hassle of a head count.
If you want a dynamic main dish braising is the way to go. Look for short ribs, pork shoulders or beef roasts. The dishes do require a longer cooking time, but they hold up well, they stay moist and can’t be overcooked. Basically there’s less chance to mess them up.
And if you start braising hours before the reception it allows the chef more flexibility before service to focus on short-cooking such as fish or scallops.
Tip 3: Deciding on what to serve
So how do you pick your menu?
You would think you should go with what your immediate family likes to eat?
Well we see it differently. You’re throwing a party to celebrate a couple — think about that first and foremost.
Some wedding couples want to blow people’s mind away with the food, while others want simple and fare. Either way, the food sets the tone for the day. When you’re selecting a caterer or the venue, carefully question the chef.
Ask questions like do they either sear the chicken ahead of time and finish in the oven at last minute? Or cook the meat completely before hand and reheat before service?
Make sure you raise your concerns and when in doubt ask for past experiences. If you’re wedding is outdoors which means you are bringing in a chef or caterer, make sure they’re equipped to serve a large crowd outside.
A option for outdoors is to bring in barbecue vendor who can smoke and cook everything to order. It would be a simple dish, but elevated because of the occasion.
And remember it’s important that the wedding guests and party enjoy a meal together. This is what food and family is all about.