Top 10 frequently asked questions for your wedding caterer...part two!
So, in part one of this blog of questions to ask your wedding caterer, we covered the first five things we think would be useful to cover. This included: how to start the process, how to start putting your menu together, how to think about your catering budget and how to entertain your guests. If you haven't read part one yet, then we suggest skipping back there for a quick read before you tackle the next five questions to think about.
In part two, we're going to look at speeches, timing, wine, the bar and how to leave your wedding day! So, let's continue...
6. When should we do the speeches?
The thing to remember about speeches is that this is the opportunity to deliver some heart-felt messages and encourage celebration of the day and the marriage, so they’re actually a really important part of the day.
We’ve lost count of the amount of tears, roars of laughter and ‘aahhrrs’ that we’ve seen and heard at the reception. With that in mind, these are very personal touches that should be delivered when all of your guests are together and can hear the speaker well.
We’ve seen speeches done during the drinks reception and in one case delivered as a welcome and setting the scene for the day which came across well. We’ve seen speeches divided out and each one delivered between each course of the wedding breakfast. Then the more traditional would say that speeches should be delivered after the main course and before dessert.
One wedding reception that did bring us to tears was when a bride spontaneously broke into song and sang ‘At Last’ by Etta James to her husband and she had an incredible voice and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
This really is an opportunity to go to town and let go of all of your barriers to thank and celebrate love, relationships and happiness. It really is the magic that connects us all and it’s the wonder of weddings that you just wish you could bottle and keep.
7. How long will the wedding breakfast take?
One of the phrases that gets commonly associated with us at Caviar & Chips is that we say ‘you do it however you want to’! And so your wedding breakfast can be as long as you like. That said, we commonly place approximately two hours in the day from serving the first course starters through to dessert and coffees assuming we’re catering for a three-course menu for approx. 100 people.
Factors that you should consider that would either shorten or lengthen this time would include; the number of guests you have, the venue and its facilities, how long you expect your speeches to be (we’ve seen speeches 15 minutes long and over one hour long) and of course how many courses or the format of your wedding breakfast.
The main concern we come across here is making sure that the wedding breakfast concludes before the evening guests arrive. We would always factor in time for things to run over and working with your caterer, they should be able to advise and work with you and the wedding party on the day to keep you informed of any delays or to re-arrange timings to make sure everything keeps on track.
8. How much wine should we order for the wedding breakfast?
You’ll know best whether your guests are likely to drink a lot or whether they’ll be more reserved. We’ve catered for wedding breakfasts with five courses with matching wines and one that followed with an Italian liqueur before coffee which required a lot of wine. However, we’ve also catered for some weddings where guests were happy to have one glass of wine and resist the indulgence.
When we meet with our clients our rule of thumb starts with half a bottle of wine for each guest or three small glasses. We often suggest choosing a white and a red wine, but again this can depend on preferences and what food you’re serving for your meal.
We’ve also combined the wedding meal with a bar, so guests can help themselves to alternatives such as beer and spirits, but again there is no right or wrong answer here.
We’d suggest taking all things into account. How much budget you have allocated can determine whether you have a free bar or a cash bar. It will also determine whether you put wine on the table or ask your caterers to pour the wine for you. From our experience, if you leave wine on the table, it tends to get drunk quicker and you may need to replenish tables. You should also ensure that your guests have plenty of water on the tables too, as there is the chance that people will be drinking throughout the day, so it’s important to make sure everyone stays hydrated (in the right way!
You can also break up the wine by serving a cava, prosecco or champagne for toasts and again your caterer could work their way around the room ensuring that everyone’s glass is topped up. Similar rules would apply and allow approximately six glasses of fizz per bottle so you can work out how many bottles you may need. Again your caterer can help you with this, but we have had experiences of couples wanting to supply their own drink and running out quite quickly and others where they’ve significantly over ordered, leaving enough to see them through their first couple of wedding anniversaries!
9. Is it ok to put on a cash bar?
Yes, is the answer! Although we’re aware that many couples or parents of couples are keen for their guests not to pay and ensure that a free bar is available. Again we’ve seen this done in many ways. A cash bar with affordable prices may mean that you’d need to guarantee your bar team a minimum spend which isn’t uncommon. Some couples that we’ve worked with have put an amount of money behind the bar and then when this amount is close to being spent we see if they want to increase the amount or switch to a cash bar.
Then we’ve also provided drinks bars where there is an agreed selection of beers, wines, spirits and cocktails, so we have a menu that we can pre-order and ensure there is enough for all of the guests and a good variety to cater for different tastes and tipples!
10. What time can the bride and groom leave the party?
Of course the whole day is focussed on the bride and groom, but there are a few moments in the day, when all of your guests will get together and all eyes and cheers will be on you both. Certainly the exchanging of vows, the opportunity to pepper you in confetti, the entrance to the wedding breakfast, cutting the cakes, speeches, first dance and then your send off and exit!
It’s not uncommon for the bride and groom to stay until the very end and keep the party going, but if you have somewhere nice to stay with a honeymoon suite, then it can be a good excuse to go and make good use of it! Certainly enjoy the band or whatever music and entertainment you have during the evening and party aspect of your celebration, but don’t be worried if you don’t make it until midnight. You’re quite within your rights to head off for some alone time and we’ve seen many a happy couple take their leave of absence from 11:00pm onwards.
The longest part of this though is saying goodbye to everyone…it really will be the long goodbye, so make sure you give yourself time to escape and make sure you’ve put someone in charge of presents, cards and your wedding cake!