FOOD FOR THOUGHT: A Pre Wedding off site catering check list.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: A Pre Wedding off site catering check list.

For those of you who have chosen or may be considering a venue or private property that essentially offers the “bare bones” we can assume you highly value personalising every element of your day with the freedom to choose your wedding suppliers.

The chances are you may also be uninformed to this time induced process which warrants much more food for thought then initially realising so we have laid out those important questions to consider when navigating your way through off- site catering with more awareness, confidence and knowing where to start.

 Speaking with For Love & Living, Brendon chief of Brand and Culinary experience Anise Catering has handed over an abundance of insightful tips and tricks. Known for winning over taste buds the last 7 years with their delectable crispy Bangalow pork belly and personalised approach with offering tailor made menu experiences.

 

When do you recommend couples begin to think of engaging a catering service? 

The best time pre - wedding is 10 months out, at the very least start making your short list of preferred caterers and collecting quotes. With the advice that between 6-8 months you would have booked your caterer and the consultation process would be well under way.

Every couple is different and every event unique. Tailoring catering to each event is a fun process but one that takes approximately 8 weeks from initial menu framework, venue walk throughs, to menu tasting, further refinements, conversations with event coordinators and liaising with hire companies on any items directly related with catering the event.  We find it always best to have this all wrapped up a minimum of 2 weeks prior to every event. This way the couple can relax and enjoy the weeks lead up with out worrying about which box they haven’t ticked.
Essentially, having your caterer booked 8 months out would be our best advice. So you can ensure that your first pick caterer is secured before the year fills up for them and everything can move in a fun relaxed pace.

 

What is your advise when it comes to couples struggling to choose what  food & beverages to serve?

That is tough one as things are so different for so many people and peoples tastes vary in such a broad way. Cultural backgrounds (on both sides), family values, beliefs, even a couples circle of friends whom they spend the most of their sociable lives with. When hitting a wall on deciding what to serve we usually advise putting a short list together based on the above and from there we will give advice tailored to those factors. 

 

 What are some of the elements to consider when deciding between Cocktail Style OR a Formal sit down reception? 

 Before weighing up the pros and cons of a cocktail style wedding or formal sit-down I think some key elements to consider first would be the topography of the venue, length of the event and also the guest list.

  Cocktail Style: Are such a wonderful fun way of celebrating but it is a long time for guests to be on their feet. Areas where guests can sit and mingle that flow with the space are essential. What is most important though is ensuring enough food flow and varying offerings, both in beverage and in food, to keep everyone entertained.

 Integrating some clever, fun, interactive food stations are a great way to do this, fun canapés that are served in a fun fashion, old hot dog style over the shoulder trays, a small wheel barrow full of ice, beers and cocktail jars the wait or bar staff can wheel around through the guests. These sort of things make cocktail style weddings some of the more fun events, but if the venue is rather hilly then it also makes them some of the most challenging for both the guests and the staff.

 Formal sit- down: Bring something completely different. If the venue is hilly or not these events give everyone a common place to sit, relax, talk, eat and drink. They also allow the opportunity for the food to be more restaurant driven, the wines being served even match with the dishes and the guests treated to something just that little more elegant. They also set a stage for speeches, bringing people together and generally planting a flag in the evening where every guest is sharing the same moment at once. 

 

 What costs are often overlooked before the quotation process?, which impact the overall catering budget with off site catering requirements.

 Costs we see mostly overlooked is staff and hire requirements. Average weekend hospitality award rates for waiters start at $31 AUD per hour, for an introductory level waiter, based on the Australian Hospitality General Award. For an experienced waiter this is between $32 and $36 AUD.

 The biggest cost in any event is the staff needed to make it work, yet it is the last area on the agenda in most cases. What we see most common place is after all the costs have been added in, venue hire, alcohol, general hire, buses, accommodation, flowers, celebrants, photographers and so on. By the day of the event the costs have increased exponentially so when the very real cost of staff required to serve the guests has been added to the table it hits pretty hard a lot of the time. This coupled with hire needs for the varying requirements of the venue, these two areas are ones that aren't visible or thought about until discussions with catering begin.

 

 What are the variables which may require more staff? 

 Most variables we find get overlooked are location variables, probably the biggest contributing factor to staff quantity and cost.

Some locations such as the Byron Surf Club or The Orchard Estate are very staff friendly in that the ground flat, the dining room right next to the kitchen, access very easy and staff parking plentiful. Locations such as Earth House, Forget Me Not, and for us with most of our weddings on private properties, logistics change dramatically which in turn effect staff cost.

One staff logistics scenario, just with the Earth House for example, is staff parking. There is not a lot of it and staffing needs to be organised into car pool groups from The Clunes Store. This making it hard to start staff at different times, that coupled with the fact that staff arriving at The Earth House anytime during or after ceremony means they are driving right through the reception. So most times we need to bring the staff on early to avoid this.

 

 Can you provide an example of a server to guest ratio at a 100 guest wedding. 

A 100 person wedding: Sit-down with full table service and bar, you would expect; 

6-8 Wait Staff

2 Bar Staff

1 Glass & Dish Wash Attendant. 

 

 The question on everyone's mind, how much alcohol to purchase at a BYO venue - as we know running out mid wedding is a couples worst nightmare.

 Alcohol quantities will vary dependant on a few key factors, the environment you want whether that is an open bar or a more modified selection of offerings, budget, your guest size and the amount they tend to drink. Keeping in mind the season which may impact more light summery beverage options over more dense red wines.

 

 The general rule of thumb:

 1 bottle of champagne per two guests

 2 x 6 packs of standard strength beer per male guest

 1 bottle of white wine per female guest

 1 bottle of red per two guests

 This is what we go by and see applying to most events quantity wise.

 

For example : A 100 guest wedding ( if you split into a 50 Female : 50 Male ratio)

50 x bottles of Champagne

25 x cases of Beer

50 x bottles of White Wine

50 x bottles of Red Wine

 

A hot tip * Most local bottle shops will offer a return policy on any purchases made that you don’t end up “drinking”. If you are indeed more comfortable having that safety net option I suggest asking your bottle shop of interest if they can offer this return policy. A local suggestion is The Cellars located in Byron Bay. www.thecellar.com.au

 

For couples wanting to integrate fun, innovative food experiences for guests, can you recommend interactive suggestions? 

Fun menus and interactive stations change and wedding trends play a big role here. One of the trends we have been observing is a break away from ticket type standard formula weddings. Though these are great for companies catering for multiple events in multiple venues a lot of couples want somethings different.

 Fun festival style weddings that break that tradition of canapés, speeches and sit- down table service is style we have been engaging with a lot. Market stall style food stations, interactive fun canapés like savoury lollipops, ice-cream cookie sandwich cart, DIY souvlaki bars, wedding menu websites where the guests can visit and select they’re menu choices months before the dinner.

All these alternate options give weddings and events a touch of fun and something individual to the couple and the experience they want to have with their extended family and friends.

 

How to avoid exceeding the dreaded wedding budget?

 When sticking to budgets the best advice we could hope to give is consider everything by asking as many questions as possible and then match those answers back to the budget. Create a list of the things that are the biggest priorities and work backwards.

 For example: If what you value as a couple is setting the stage of beautiful flowers, luxury tablescapes, lighting, furniture, roof installations, musicians, transportation. Then get those costs, take them out of the budget and work backwards from there. If food simply is the most important part of the evening then vice versa.

Most of all, talk to your vendors and be open and honest, they will return with their honest evaluation of what they can do for the portion of budget available.

 

 If you wish to further connect with ANISE CATERING you can find them on www.byronbaycatering.com.au 

Image credits :  @cassandraladru and Karissa from @the_lane

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