This week on Planning + Prosecco we’re talking about catering. Should you pay the extra money for a licensed and insured caterer for your wedding reception or just let your friends and family provide the dinner? I think you probably have an idea of our stance on this. Just like we don’t recommend that you let mamaw make your wedding cake, we also think paying a professional to prepare and serve the food is equally important. Here are our reasons why.
Cooking for the Numbers
Professional caterers know how to cook for large groups. Just because your friend loves to host dinner parties, doesn’t mean she or he is accustomed to multiplying those recipes to accommodate 100 or more guests. Caterers know how to scale up and scale well. It’s important that the food hold up to transportation, preparation at a venue and throughout the entire service time. Also, how embarrassing it would be if you ran out of food before all your guests were served. They also know how to time everything. If you planned your reception dinner for 6:00 and the food isn’t ready until 7:00 then you’ve lost an hour of precious dancing time, not to mention all the hangry guests you might have on your hands.
Creative and Extensive Meal Options
Not only can caterers prepare for large groups, but they can still do so creatively. It’s one thing to just make more and more and more chicken breast or pulled pork, but if unique food options are on your list a caterer should be able to wow multitudes of guests with stunning choices. Seasoned caterers have a breadth of knowledge and experience under their belts so they can make suggestions to please the pickiest of guests. They can also accommodate a wide list of food allergies and restrictions. We had one client with a severe and dangerous dairy allergy. The caterer we chose did an amazing job of maintaining a super clean, dairy-free kitchen and prepared an absolutely delicious and creative vegan meal that satisfied even the biggest meat/dairy lovers in the crowd.
Keeping it Clean
Caterers bring with them a small army of staff that are there to keep things moving and tidy. They know exactly how many people to schedule to make sure there are no lags in service and everyone is well cared for. The staff will be there to replenish (and sometimes serve) food on your buffet, serve plated meals, and bus tables to make sure unsightly, dirty dishes and glassware don’t pile up in front of your guests. All of this helps with speed of service for getting your hungry guests fed and also gives the event a smooth, even flow with less hitches and more efficiency – think nice restaurant. When dining out, you expect your server to be quick, anticipate your needs and keep the table clear, right? Same thing here.
Sanitation + Insurance
Let’s talk health codes. When providing a meal to a large number of people, do you want your friends or family to take on the liability if a guest were to become ill or get food poisoning? I’d personally rather that burden be on a professional who knows how to keep a clean kitchen and is super safe when it comes to food prep. This is even more important if you have guests with food allergies and cross contamination becomes an issue. And if, heaven forbid, there was a health issue, a licensed and insured caterer would be prepared to deal with it sans messy, relationship crushing fight over medical bills.