Planning a wedding is a stressful and time-consuming process. A major part of planning your wedding reception is figuring out what to serve your guests, which is why it’s a good idea to contact a Bay Area catering company like Patagonia On Fire to handle your wedding catering needs. Learn everything you need to know about the catering process and the decisions you will need to make when you start working with your caterer.
Save Time and Stress: Finding a Bay Area Catering Service for Your Wedding
It can be overwhelming trying to pick the food and drinks to serve at your wedding reception. Much of the time, you will have dozens of options that are difficult to narrow down by yourself. However, with guidance from a catering company, you can craft an appetizer and dinner menu that matches the theme of your wedding and satisfies all of your guests.
More importantly, hiring a Bay Area catering company removes all the stress you may have about buying ingredients and preparing food yourself. Even if you want to DIY most of your wedding, it’s better to hire a reliable caterer so you can enjoy your big day without worrying about any of the food prep, cooking, or cleaning.
Can Wedding Catering Save Money Too?
A Bay Area catering company can also save you money in the long run. If you plan a menu and buy all the ingredients yourself from the store, the chances are you will rack up a high grocery bill at the end of the day. However, a catering service can usually source high-quality ingredients at bulk prices that can cut down on some of the costs of serving food at your wedding.
Your catering company will also be able to help you make menu choices that can cut down on costs so you don’t overwhelm your budget, which may be especially important if you have a larger guest list. Some strategies to cut down on catering costs can include limiting appetizer options, arranging a buffet-style menu, and choosing more affordable entrées.
What Type of Menu Should You Have?
The type of menu you choose for your wedding catering can be one of the most crucial parts of setting the tone for your reception. The menu you choose for your reception should fit your seating arrangement and any waiter services you have arranged. The most common types of menus include:
For weddings, a buffet menu is often seen as the go-to option, especially if you plan to have a larger guest list. A buffet-style menu will allow you to select dishes that can satisfy most of your guests, such as picking options for vegetarians and vegans. A buffet menu also allows guests to choose their preferred portion size, which could be more convenient if your wedding reception will have small children.
A buffet-style menu is also an ideal set-up if your wedding reception is more casual. Because a buffet can be set up to encourage mingling between guests, this menu style can invite more relaxation and enjoyment to your event. Buffets are also generally more affordable than other catering options.
Finger Food Menu
A finger food menu will consist mostly of hors d’oeuvres, which are small bite-size dishes that are intended to be consumed while mingling. Hors d’oeuvres are not considered appetizers, since these small dishes are usually meant to be the main event of your catering menu or are served long before the dinner menu while guests are mingling. Ideally, the hors d’oeuvres you select should pair well with any cocktails at your wedding reception.
Selecting a finger food menu is usually a good idea if you are planning an upscale wedding reception that is more similar to a cocktail party or a gala. If the main goal of your wedding reception is to cut the cake and thank your guests for coming, hors d’oeuvres and other finger foods are a much better option than a longer, sit-down meal.
Patagonia On Fire also offers specialized menus, which is when the chef uses a certain style of specialized cooking to produce dishes for your wedding. A wood fire mix parrillada is ideal for Argentinian and South American food, whereas other open-fire cooking is best for Americanized BBQ. Using a specialized menu for your wedding can make the day even more memorable, particularly when the items on your menu honor you or your spouse’s heritage.
Can a Catering Company Customize Your Menu?
Even if your wedding catering company specializes in a certain type of cuisine, you will usually be able to work with the company to customize your wedding menu. It may be a good idea to customize your wedding reception menu if you know you will have guests who have dietary restrictions or allergies. Customizing your menu can also allow you to swap out some ingredients so your appetizer and dinner menu suits your taste.
Some couples like to customize a wedding menu to capture certain memories, such as the food the couple ate on their first date or a dish that was made by a dearly-departed relative. By customizing your wedding menu, your catering company can help you increase the warmth and intimacy of your wedding reception.
When Should You Start Finding a Catering Company?
Like most other aspects of your wedding planning, choosing your catering company is not a last-minute detail. Usually, you will need to start looking for a wedding catering company at least six to 11 months before your wedding date. This is because the first catering company you come across may not be the best catering company for your wedding.
You will want to critically assess the reputation, reliability, and type of food each catering service can provide so you can narrow down your list. It’s important to research what the catering company covers, since not all caterers can also provide cocktails or wedding cakes. If you plan to have a more elaborate wedding cake, it might be best to commission a separate baker so your caterer can focus on your wedding menu exclusively.
What Is the Timeline for Making Catering Arrangements?
After you find the Bay Area catering service that is ideal for your wedding vision, you will be able to start making arrangements with the caterer. Most people will have an initial meeting with the caterer to discuss details about your ceremony and wedding reception about four to nine months before the wedding date. It’s also common to have follow-up meetings and phone calls during this time to adjust your menu choices or your budget.
Next, you will visit your caterer for taste testing. Testing the dishes for your wedding reception will usually take place three to eight months before your wedding, which gives your caterer enough time to adjust the menu to suit your tastes. You may have a follow-up taste test to approve the final dishes before you sign the catering contract and make payment arrangements.
Planning a wedding is stressful enough without worrying about what your guests will eat during your reception. Instead of trying to juggle everything yourself, it’s best to find a reliable catering service to handle all of your catering needs. Get in touch with Patagonia On Fire to explore your catering options today.