Choosing a Wedding Caterer

wedding catering

wedding catering

Choosing a caterer

After you have decided on the type of reception venue you want, it is time to choose between using the in-house catering on offer, hiring an outside catering firm or catering yourselves.

Many venues have in-house caterers that provide all the food and drink services for celebrations held there. These caterers will be familiar with the styles of meal that their chefs specialise in and will also be able to provide tables and chairs, linen, crockery, glasses, waiting staff and some decorations.

If you have specific catering requirements like needing Halal or Kosher meals then the venue may not be able to accommodate your wedding or they may allow you to book outside caterers. Similarly, if there is no in-house catering then ask for recommendations from the venue or friends or relatives. Also check the Yellow Pages and local newspapers for contacts.

Draw up a shortlist of potential caterers and arrange an appointment to discuss your specific requirements and compare prices and services. Ask to see specific example menus, price list and testimonials from other brides and grooms and inquire about the type of wedding packages they offer. Ask each caterer the same questions about their service, ingredients and any added extras so you get comparable quotes from each.

Useful questions to ask your caterer

  1. Do you only have set menus or can we create our own?
  2. How many options can we offer for each course?
  3. Can any special dietary needs can be dealt with?
  4. Can we taste a sample of your food?
  5. I am holding my reception at home/in a marquee/in a hall. Will my food will be pre-cooked and prepared or do you need any cooking or storage facilities?
  6. Is wine included in a package with food?
  7. Do you charge corkage if we buy our own wine?
  8. If wine is provided, will we be charged for the amount of bottles ordered or for just those that are opened?
  9. How many other drinks are included in the package? What soft drinks are included? (Some include a drink as the guests arrive and then a certain number of bottles of wine per guest, along with fruit juices).
  10. How much clearing up will be done after the reception? (Some caterers will clear only the kitchens while others will wait until the end of the entire evening and clear everything away. In-house caterers will usually clear up more at the end of the evening.)
  11. Do you provide for waiting staff in your quote?
  12. How near the wedding date can we confirm final numbers?

wedding food

Self-catering your wedding

This is now the least popular option because most couples feel they have enough to worry about on their wedding day without being responsible for the finer details of catering. Taking care of the food for your wedding is a big responsibility, but a highly-organised bride with a dedicated team of helpers should be able to manage.

You will need to make sure there is plenty of food for your guests, that it is well presented and that you cater for any special dietary requirements. There is a limit to the amount of food that can be prepared in advance. The setting out of the reception will have to be done at the same time as the preparations for the ceremony, and it is here, if nowhere else, that helpers can come into their own.

Before choosing this option, ask yourselves a couple of questions: Do you have the time and experience to cope with planning menus and catering for large number, access to the right kind of equipment in large enough quantities, and a supply of willing friends and relatives to help with this mammoth task? Perhaps one friend could take overall responsibility for the catering with the rest of the team reporting to him/her rather than you. This will take some of the strain off you, but keep the cost of catering down.

It is more simple to self-cater a buffet as it is easier to estimate the quantities of food you need and you can provide a variety of hot and cold items that do not need to be cooked and served simultaneously. As a guide, professional caterers allow approximately fifteen to twenty items of food per guest, so simply multiply this by the number of guests you invite. Make sure you have enough furniture, china, cutlery and glassware or hire from a catering firm for the day. Some off-licences offer a discount if you hire glasses at the same time as ordering your wine.

When it comes to presenting your buffet food, the simplest way is often the most effective. Ask the staff at your venue if they have any table linen you could hire, or buy paper tablecloths and napkins in the colour scheme of your wedding. Basic plates are fine for displaying your food, and use a few some simple flower or candle arrangements to decorate your tables.

If you decide to have a sit-down meal you will need to consider table settings for all of your guests and provide waiting staff to serve your food. It is possible to hire waiters and waitresses but this can be an expensive option. Consider asking friends of teenage bridesmaids to help, and delegate responsibility of organising them to someone else.

Recommended vendor:


Inviting Traditions in Letterpress: Milkfed Press & Bindery Fashions Custom Designs

wedding deals proposal ring

wedding deals proposal ring

“I work with brides and grooms who are searching for something different. They don’t want cookie-cutter invitations, routine stationery or run-of-the-mill paper items. They desire high quality with personality to match,” explains Victoria Heifner, founder of Milkfed Press & Bindery located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Milkfed Press is a quaint one-woman operation housed within what used to be a turn-of-the-century neighborhood grocery store. Located within a tight-knit East Bay community, her tidy work¬space and by appointment retail shop shows off samples of her work – note cards and stationery hang from an old wooden door, walls flanked with wonderful silk book cloths, colorful leather skins and hand-cut show posters.

There’s a huge work table that doubles as client meeting surface/packing table, plus a prized-possession, an old counter top table screened with an original Wonder Bread logo left behind. Tucked round the corner are Heifner’s workhorses – two antique printing presses which she hand-feeds to turn out individual piece of art.

Both artist and problem-solver, Heifner continues, “Clients come to me with an idea of what they like, but no idea how to produce it. I love helping them bring their most beautiful visions to life. I design and create custom stationery, note cards, printed matter and also do custom-bound books for brides-to-be, artisans and a variety of clients from around the U.S.; her customers hail from the East Coast to the southern states. Long-distance work doesn’t seem to be a concern. “We communicate via email and I can send samples of materials in the mail,” she adds.

wedding fonts

The Beauty of Letterpress

You cannot help but run your fingers back and forth over the imprinted letters and the wonderful papers in her shop. “The principles of letterpress printing are the same as they were in 1445, but with a new twist that incorporates polymer plates (created from the digital design files she creates on a computer), rather than hand-set lead type,” she says. “Technology has aided this fine old tradition in printing and the scope of what I can design and create is practically unlimited.”

To output her designs Heifner relishes everything from luxurious fine European printmaking papers to the most utilitarian of objects – pieces of wood. “I let my design dictate which materials are most appropriate for the job. I take into account the theme and formality of the event, the personality of my bridal couple, and what they are trying to achieve. I approach each job with a fresh perspective and try to remain open, allowing the design to dictate the outcome.”

As for design inspiration and sensibilities, she adds, “I love looking at how things are packaged – and that includes everything from a wonderful set of ribbon-tied bridal stationery to milk cartons in a grocery store. I love wrappers and packaging. I marvel at, but honestly don’t pay much attention to the latest design trends in stationery. I also find inspiration in old books and typography. I’m working in a craft that has been around for 600+ years—quality and integrity are timeless and trendless.”

Design Process

The design process engages with a lively exchange of ideas and visions. For wedding invitations and stationery, many brides bring in a swatch of fabric to pair to their inks, papers or trims. The letterpress print process uses ‘spot’ colors (each color is printed separately), so Heifner matches each tone exactly through an age-old method of hand-mixing ink combinations on a stone. “The entire process is very hands-on, which is why I love it so much.” Heifner prepares all of the work herself— from design and hand-setting of type, to hand-cutting letters and fashioning her own photo-polymer plates.

Save-the-date cards, maps, coasters, place settings cards, thank you notes, book marks and delightful custom- bound books are some of the items in her repertoire. She requires four to six weeks for custom orders, start to finish. Milkfed Press excels in custom design work, but Heifner also carries a small line of collection styles and retail pieces available within her shop. Her collection features a wonderful range of traditional motifs, patterns and layouts in a bevy of color combinations. For personalization to pieces from her collection, she requests a minimum of two to three weeks to add details.

Custom Design

design press letteringTiming Heifner recommends that a bride get in touch as soon as she has all information ready to build her invitation or any printed or bound item. She’s delighted to schedule an appointment to meet with customers at their conve¬nience. “A bride can also call, email or drop me a note to get started. When we meet I show them samples and discuss the process and timing. The bride is already sold on crafting a fine letterpress invitation and she under¬stands that it’s generally more expensive than other processes such as thermography. The wonderful tactile quali¬ties of letterpress win customers over almost every time,” notes Heifner.

Twelve years back Heifner began studying to become a bookbinder and conservator. She gained industry expe¬rience by working in the Preservation Lab at the San Francisco Public Library and apprenticed to a fine printer and typographer for several years to learn the tradition of fine letterpress printing. Four years ago Milkfed Press & Bindery was founded. In addition to her exquisite letterpress correspondence pieces, Heifner designs and cre¬ates custom-bound books and restores tattered old tomes to their glory through delicate restoration services.

Owner Victoria Heifner combines a love of both letterpress and bindery to offer unique pieces that mark special occasions and celebrations of her customers’ lives. Letterpress minimum starts at 100 pieces.


Wedding Gown Trends

wedding gowns

Applause – the strapless gown is waning in popularity. Not to knock strapless, but move over for more neckline coverage! Designers are giving brides more support and a bit more decoration up top. Throw in a healthy dose of detail at the hemline, plus splashes of accent color and you’re in the know on what’s current.

But the biggest thing is big…

The Ball Gown Enters

wedding gowns

If a $200,000 Christian Dior design worn by Melania for her marriage to Donald couldn’t start a trend, then not much else will be able to move the seamstress’s needle. Those wonderful full formals are making a heady return and brides seem quite attuned. Top couture runway designers such as Carolina Herrera, Eli Saab and of course Vera Wang have gone big. Stunning custom and prêt a porter ball gowns can also be seen from the Italian house Atelier Aimee, whose design teams offer traditional to avant garde styles in three lines of varying style and price point. Of course St. Pucchi has always skirted the bride in a big way, and Eugenia Couture, plus Priscilla of Boston are known for grand entrances.

Big gowns are a bit more challenging to manage, but photographers love having that extra yardage to create drama. Will you wear a separate petticoat or does the dress have a sewn-in slip? One item about big dresses – they are heavy. Melania’s couture was rumored to weigh 50 pounds. Getting a good snug fit is essential so the dress stays in place. A separate petticoat (one not connected to the dress) will keep the fullness whilst not being a drag on the overall outline. Be sure your bridesmaid knows how to bustle you into position. Some dresses are quite complex.

Strapless – Passé?

ballroom gowns bridal

It’s not all the rage to say the least. Busty gals will not be busting out all over, the anorexia bride will be hidden at least until after the reception and maybe no more grip, grab and tug on the bodice front side to shore things up for another few minutes. We have straps and collars, lace overlay and plenty of wonderful fabric treatments to fill the neckline void.

Canadian designer Antoniette Catenacci shows interesting Celtic-influenced gowns with wonderful square and wide necklines guaranteed to beautifully show off your on-loan Harry Winston jewels. Australian designer Basilica Couture showed this past season at New York Couture Week and brought classic cuts in very proper covered up styles. One gown featured long sleeves and upper bodice done in organza, while another favorite was a wonderful ensemble that paired a clean A-line skirt gown with matching waist or full length tailored coat.

Other styles holding up are keyhole and halter. Luscious bias cuts with these necklines prevail in creations from Eden Bridal. Slim shapes with cowls and soft neckline draping are other strapless alternatives offered by many designers such as Adele Wechsler. Cowl cuts give fluidity and motion and are perfect for the slim angular bride looking for more softness.

Skirting the Emotion

Not to be outdone by motion up top, skirts are moving every which way with feathers, ruffles, ribbons, pleats – sometimes adding mayhem to hemlines. One designer mad with details this season is Claire Pettibone – roses and ruffles, panniers and fluff, draped lace and filmy chiffon.

On the couture scale, Paris-based Japanese designer Yumi Katsura plays with frills using organzas and sheers. Her playful gowns offer ruffles in symmetric and asymmetric placement. She’s also showing a few crystal pleated styles – a hot dressmaker embellishment the past few seasons. In other moves closer to the body, the mermaid silhouette has added some legs with the addition of a train and a whole lot of embellishment back side.

Not since the 1880s have ladies had so much fuss trailing them. Designs from Elizabeth Fillmore give additional backside swish and detail. Vera Wang and Jim Hjelm follow right behind.

And on the looser side of things, full ‘proper lady’ tea length styles are on order again for both brides and bridesmaids. Whether swinging free or petticoated for fullness, these dresses are showing up at destination and outdoor summertime weddings. Check the outlines from Carol Peretz and Lazaro:

Color My World


A few seasons back color started breaking onto the bridal canvas with hints showing up in beading and embroidery. Then came the famous Monique Lhuillier double-sided satin ribbon waist sash in cafe latte. Seems the world is awash with colors for brides and her maids. For the marrying woman, not only has her basic palette widened but accents come in a rainbow of options. She’s no longer limited to shades of white and ivory; she can blush, have champagne and slither in silver.

Raylia Designs shows a pretty in pink silk georgette dress with smooth bodice and curvy hem, while Demetrios chooses sweetheart red.

Alfred Angelo offers a line of dress basics where color can be customized on a sash, in the embroidery, or at bodice and hemline. Also take a peek at Hannah Hartnell’s work. She offers sexy, slinky, bias bridal pieces in a wonderfully soft range of tones.

And capping off this round-up of swish, color and pomp is a stunner from Kenneth Pool — who says his brides just love the glitz and sparkle!


Wedding Favors For The Bridal Party

wedding bride

wedding bride

They are your best friends, sisters, inlaws, and relatives. They are the women who make up your bridal party and you need special gifts for them. There are many different types of wedding favors that are available for the bridal party. There are general bridal party favors that are used often and then there are also personalized wedding favors that can be given to the bridal party. It is all up to the bride in giving the bridal party what she thinks the women will enjoy. These are a few items that can be popular bridal party favors:

Lotions and oils – Lotions and oils can be great bridal party favors. You can be sure that the women will probably use lotions or oils that are given, as they are very popular items with women. You can get hand or body lotions as well as lotions that are scented. There are many different oils as well from body oils to bath oils. You can also make a little basket and have both of these items in them as a good wedding favor.

Jewelry – Jewelry can be a good option as all the people involved in the bridal party can wear matching jewelry such as a necklace or a bracelet. This can get expensive though if you decide to buy nice jewelry.

Chocolates – Chocolates are always a nice bridal shower wedding favor. A box of chocolates or an assortment can be given as well in a gift basket along with other wedding favors. Many times the bridal party is given chocolates that are personalized such as having the initials of the bride or her new last name.

Purses and handbags – You can also give out handbags and purses to the bridal party for a wedding favor. One nice option is you can have them all match so they can use them at the wedding. From a small wallet to a nice handbag they can be a great wedding favor for any bridal party.

Personalized t-shirts – One way to make the wedding more personal is to have t-shirts made for the special occasion. They can be made in many colors and styles and they are practical as well.

Flowers – A bouquet of flowers is always a nice wedding favor for the bridal party. This way you can ensure that everyone will have a bouquet so they do not have to fight for the one that is thrown by the bride at the reception.

Gift baskets – A gift basket can make it easier to give wedding favors to the bridal party as you can incorporate many things in to the basket. You can put things such as flowers, mugs, wine, coffees, chocolates, oils, lotions, and anything else that is small and will make a nice little gift.

Stationary – You can give stationary as a wedding favor as it is always a nice wedding favor. You can even go a step further by personalizing the stationary with the date or various photos. You can ensure that women in the bridal party will keep in touch with you by giving personalized stationery.

No matter what you choose to get for the women in your bridal party, make sure that it has some type of personal touch added to it so that they will all know it came from your heart. These wedding favors will be something that each one will cherish for many years to come.