When you’re planning a destination wedding, you’ll visit different cities to see which venues and vendors you like. There are so many things to learn as you as you go in the planning process. How destination wedding catering works may be one of them. It’s important to contact local vendors early, so you can reserve your wedding date far in advance and catering is a great place to start.
You don’t need to know everything you want to eat or drink at your reception to choose a caterer. Once you start meeting with them, they’ll discuss what they offer and what will work for your theme. Even so, there’s much about catering that leaves couples with questions. Some don’t get answers until after they’ve said their vows.
Here’s a guide to how catering works for a destination wedding to help you be more prepared to make future decisions and know exactly what will happen on your big day.
Check With Your Venue
The best thing you can do for your destination wedding is to choose your venue. After you’ve put down a deposit or know which place you prefer, you can meet with staff to discuss how they’ve worked with caterers in the past.
Venues will have different-sized kitchens to work with and space to set up. A small site may not accommodate the buffet you’re picturing or have room for kitchen staff to serve a five-course meal.
Travel for Destination Wedding Catering Tastings
You know what food you like, but chefs prepare everything a little differently. It can be smart to budget for extra pre-wedding trips, so you can attend tastings with local caterers at your chosen destination. They may use sauces or seasonings you don’t enjoy and it would be unfortunate to discover that once you’ve sat down for your reception.
Many caterers won’t book a potential client without a tasting for this reason, so plan to go to at least a few times before making your final decision. Before you do, learn the do’s and don’ts about tastings, so you arrive prepared.
Schedule the Bar Hours
The bar at your destination wedding may be part of your catering or a separate contract. Either way, most bartenders will require couples to outline the specific hours they want the bar to remain open.
The scheduled hours will affect your budget and your wedding day schedule. Will you get ready on-site and want everyone to enjoy a drink or two before the ceremony, or do you prefer guests to drink late into the night? These preferences will guide how you work on your bar catering contract, so everyone knows what to expect.
Estimate Portion Sizes
Sometimes couples become overwhelmed when they try to estimate how much food they’ll need at their reception. Guests will say they’re coming or cancel up until the last minute, especially for destination weddings, when flights may be affected by the weather.
The good news is that caterers will plan portions to cater for large groups of guests, so you don’t need to do any math or guestimate the cost. They’ll help with adjusting for your guest list, managing last-minute changes, and figuring out what you need to make your meal a success.
Remember to Tip
Take a good look at your catering contract when you’re deciding whether or not to sign on the dotted line. Some businesses include tips to prevent their staff from not getting paid what clients owe them. Others don’t, so figure out how to tip vendors and not accidentally shortchange your caterer after they help you have the perfect wedding day.
Prepare to Go Home Empty-Handed
After your wedding, you may head home or jet off to your honeymoon. Either way, don’t expect to bring the leftovers with you. Caterers typically bring a little more food than you paid for because it’s better to have too much than not enough. They’ll take back anything they don’t use, so don’t worry about having to deal with leftovers or eat them for a week after your ceremony.
Ask Any Questions About Destination Wedding Catering
Your vendor wants to make your destination wedding catering as easy and enjoyable as possible. Ask any questions you have as you work through your destination wedding catering planning process. They’ll be happy to provide answers and help, so everyone enjoys your big day.