Wedding Catering Ideas with COVID-19 Tips on Serving Food
By Kristen Walker, A Sharper Palate Catering & Events
When planning your big day, many things come to mind that you want to be memorable. The venue, the dress, the flowers, the music, and the delicious food! Choosing a caterer can be a lot of fun, but there are some tough decisions you might encounter when deciding which company to select. Here are some helpful tips when comparing caterers to help you make the right choice and to find the best fit for you and your sweetheart.
- Be thorough in your wants, desires, and preferences! The more information you can provide your caterer in the beginning, the better equipped they will be to offer the most all-inclusive quote. Are there favorite foods you want or is there a special concept you’d like to see? Don’t worry if you have never planned an event before or don’t know what information to ask. Caterers are there to guide you through the process and put all the pieces together for a seamless event.
- Pay attention to the customer service. When you call or email to get a quote, the response should be helpful, detailed, and make you feel at ease. You should also be given a timeframe to receive a proposal. During busy months, many catering coordinators have limited time at a desk to correspond with clients. Be prepared that it may be a couple of weeks before you get a proposal during these times and set your expectations, so you are not chomping at the bit the next day when you haven’t received a response. While it is difficult to be patient and wait for that proposal, it shouldn’t be viewed as a negative. It means this particular catering company is diligently taking care of their current clients and ensuring their events are a success, which is ultimately what you want them to do for you!
- After you get the proposals…Every caterer puts together proposals a little differently, which can make it challenging to compare them directly. The important key items to look for are the following:
- Is the menu meeting your needs?
- Does it reflect the foods you want to see?
- Where is the food being prepared?
- Are the details accurate? Are the start and end times for the ceremony and reception listed correctly?
- Does it tell you who is providing what? Are you responsible for rental items? If so, which ones?
- Have beverages been listed clearly? Do you need an ABC license with this venue?
- Is there enough on-site staff to make your event a success? How many bartenders? How many servers and chefs?
- If your initial proposal doesn’t spell it out, always ask your catering contact to make sure your expectations are met in every way and all the details are covered.
Now onto the tasting… It’s time to move to the exciting part…tasting the food! Most caterers offer tastings for couples, but each one does it a little differently. Some may provide an assortment of items to showcase their style, presentation, or flavor, and some will provide the specific items that you are choosing for your event. When deciding on items to taste, pick dishes that you are trying to compare or that are not as obvious in the presentation. Don’t be surprised when you are charged for this opportunity, which ranges from $75- $150, mostly to cover the cost of the items and the chef’s time to prepare. Most caterers do this. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant and not expect to pay, right? Tastings are like eating a meal prepared just for you.
Once you have selected and contracted the caterer of your choice, sit back and let them do the job you hired them to do. Caterers have seen it all and will guide and assist you in creating the best day ever! Their advice comes from years of experience, so trust them.
Share with them as much information as you have: other vendors involved, plans for the wedding party before and after, favors, etc. They will have the largest staff on-site for the duration of the event and the more knowledge they have of the big picture, the better they can anticipate the next step and be an integral part of pulling it all together. It takes a team to make it all happen!
Additional COVID-19 wedding catering tips on serving food with safety precautions
We asked Kristen with A Sharper Palate Catering & Events to give us some tips on how to navigate food service during the pandemic. Here is some valuable information to help keep you, your guests and all staff as safe as possible.Having to change the format or style of your wedding can be overwhelming to start, but there are lots of creative ways to still achieve the food you are envisioning and still have fun with it!
Seat your guests with their families or travel buddies (aka pods), this takes a little work on the front side with table sizes and seating charts, but overall it makes everyone feel safe and comfortable.
Staff are now serving buffets and not having guests touch or handle the utensils until the end of the food table when their plate is handed to them. Since this takes a little longer it is recommended to call tables to the buffet (your DJ or MC can handle this and get creative with it), so that no one is waiting in line and there are only small groups at the food table vs large groups congregating. This also is fun for the staff, it allows them to interact more with the guests when normally they would not be able to do so.
Offer a couple of different areas to get beverages or drinks instead of all in one location. This does require more space, but helps with social distancing and spreading people out. It is also recommended to use disposables for service. If you have your heart set on glassware, just have more so that it is only a one time use glass. Also, consider renting high top bars versus a flat table to create a more visual barrier for the beverage service.
For heavy hors d’oeuvres receptions, your caterer can prepare food in individual containers or plates, so guests can just grab and go!
Place hand sanitizer around at seating tables, bars, food tables to encourage use and masks at doorways or entries to buildings to promote wearing them specifically in inside areas.
Kristen Walker is the General Manager for A Sharper Palate Catering & Events. A Sharper Palate has been a premier caterer in the Richmond area since 1993 and services a variety of events including rehearsal dinners, weddings, birthday parties, galas, fundraisers, and corporate lunches and dinners for the office. To learn more, check out their website www.asharperpalate.com.