Would you serve McDonald’s at your wedding? Catering advice from Relish on Holly’s hot wedding tips.
Don’t you love a great meal? It is such a pleasure to sit down for a meal with friends and family, and even more so to celebrate the union of two people. Providing a great meal at your wedding is what your caterer is there for. Relish Catering is known in Denver for using fresh, local, and made from scratch menus. I met with Karen from Relish catering to get the scoop on great wedding catering.
I asked Karen about budgeting for your wedding caterer, and she told me this amazing story. Karen said she has a Mc Donald’s theory about catering. You cannot serve a McDonald’s meal for under $7 a person. In addition to that $7 you have to pay for your time to go pick it up, your vehicle and gas to transport it, and it is presented in a paper bag. It costs more than $7 for any caterer to purchase fresh ingredients, provide a kitchen to serve it in (at many weddings, caterers transport the kitchen to your location) staff to set up and tear down a beautiful presentation with linens, dishes and serving utensils. The average catered meal is $30-$90 per person, and is worth every penny to rest assured that you have a meal worth remembering with your friends and family.
So what can you expect from a traditional wedding meal? Many venues have a menu to choose from. Karen outlined that when you are building your custom meal you should have a salad course, a choice of two proteins, a vegetable and a starch. This can then be presented as a plated meal, family style, or in a buffet. This would be the same for an afternoon or evening wedding. Karen recommends customizing foods that your guests will like eating. A well fed guest will absorb alcohol slower, reducing intoxication.
- Tapas or small plates with a greater variety of foods, like an Italian plate, a meat and potatoes plate, or a Greek plate.
- Food Stations with different styles of foods, like pasta bar, taco bar, baked potato bar, and dessert bar.
- Roaming carts – carts loaded with meat and cheese, chips, veggies, roaming in and about your guests at your cocktail hour.
- Carnival themed food- andouille sausage corn dogs set with carnival linens, funnel cake instead of just powdered sugar we had assorted toppings we had all sorts of different things, apples, and syrups, and strawberries. toppings. Fun and adventurous settings to serve over the top creative foods.
Karen loves to give people the custom menu that they can bring memories of past family meals and experiences. Here are some tips she has to help you get your dream meal.
- Be honest with your Caterer on your budget. Often experienced caterers can come up with ideas within your theme that will fit most budgets.
- Tell your caterer your theme or vision. Let your caterer in on what your dream meal is. From there they can work to find the perfect menu.
- Be prepared to answer these questions when designing your menu.
What’s important to you? Where have you been? What do you love? What do you hate? Where are we going to have the event? Last of all, what is your passion?
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(Holly à) Good morning Karen it is so good to have you here from Relish Catering. What is included in a traditional wedding meal for evenings? (Karenà) It really depends on what you want we are a completely custom caterer so we design our menus based on what our clients individual preferences are we don’t want it to be about, here’s our set menu and here’s our view pick from our list we want it to be personal and we really want it to be about you and your guests. So we really want to make sure that we are including things that may be family recipes and tradition and things like that into the food as well as some new twists and some things like that. We typically for a set dinner, we include a salad course and then usually one to two proteins depending on what service we’re doing if it’s buffet, or plated, or family style and then a starch and a vegetable as well so it can be really anything and we’ll customize it because not just potatoes and beef have to be on that menu we can make it anything. So it doesn’t have to be what you expected it can be the unexpected.
(Holly à) What about in an afternoon wedding? (Karenà) So typically an afternoon wedding if it’s lunch or after the lunch hour we typically will see the same amount of food that is being served but we usually encourage people to do something a little different. You can do oeuvres, you can do more of a tapis type of event, you can do all sorts of different things but you also want to keep in mind you want to make sure that your guests are going to be able to eat and have food because that’s kind of what they’re expecting when they come in. Especially if you’re serving alcohol at your event you want to make sure you have enough food that people aren’t getting intoxicated and wild and too crazy. You want to have a good time but you also want to make sure you’re giving them enough food that they can really soak up some of that alcohol and have a good time and make sure they’re full because a lot of times unless you specify on your invitation or in some type of notice to your guests that there’s not going to be food served they’re not going to be expecting to have a meal.
(Holly à) What are the current trends in catering? (Karenà) There are so, so many we have such a wide variety of things that not only we suggest as trends but people bring us as trends. A lot of times people are doing small plates which means instead of having a big seated dinner with one course there may be a station that you can go up to and customize your own course. It could be a small plate being if your favorite food is Italian you can do an Italian small plate which it may have something like a pasta and maybe a Caesar salad with some vegetables that’s a pretty basic one, but you could do something where people can’t make up their mind and that’s ok because we can improvise. And if you want to do something and say you’re really picky and your guests are not or you’re really eclectics which we get a lot of but your guests are not. They’re not as adventurous eaters well we can do something of both you can do some more recognizable foods that are going to keep them satisfied with that but also give it a little bit of a twist so that they can have some experimentation at your wedding. A lot of times people will try things if they’re small if it comes out on a big dinner plate it could be overwhelming for them and they may not eat which unfortunately means that you spent your money on something that wasn’t exactly consumed which means it is a waste of money. But some other trends that we’re seeing are roaming carts so during cocktail hour instead of having a station with fruit and cheese or instead of doing past hors d’oeuvres where you have to have ten of them you can do a cart that maybe is still a fruit and cheese display but it roams through your guests where they aren’t having to leave their conversations to go get food but they can still get something and then whenever they need something.
(Holly à) Alright Karen what’s the most unusual wedding you’ve ever done? (Karenà) I don’t know if I’d say they’re unusual but I would like to call them unique. Themed events are really big for us and something that was really fun was we did a carnival theme that had really really fun food it went from their invitations all the way through their cake and we incorporated it with food by doing gourmet carnival food. So we did instead of doing a normal corndog we did andouille sausage corndogs as a pass hors d’oeuvres and we did funnel cakes but instead of just powdered sugar we had assorted toppings we had all sorts of different things, apples, and syrups, and strawberries. Everything you could think of we could put on a funnel cake and it’s amazing the creations that people come up with but it makes it super exciting. Be unique be original be fun, what are you passionate about? Because if you are someone who wants to go with an Irish theme, or wants to go with something a New York theme. We’ve had some that are so fun that are really based on where people have traveled to those are fun because then you can incorporate all kinds of different foods and different things into your menu so the options are limitless. So be unique be fun, be adventurous because people are coming to have a good time. So I would say the more unique and creative you can be the better it will be, the better the memories that people will have.
(Holly à) What are the greatest tips you have for brides and grooms regarding catering? (Karen à) My biggest tip would be honest, be honest with your vendors just really tell them your budget, tell them you’re thinking. If you have questions ask them because they are going to give you the information that you need but really really be honest and share your passions, share what you love, share what you hate because that’s a big one. We a lot of times don’t know, we don’t know our clients before they come in, so if we don’t know who you are before you come in we don’t know what you love and what you hate so if you hate goat cheese, or mushrooms, or seafood let us know. Because we don’t want to serve that to you when you come in and then you don’t get to try the food. So that would be my biggest tip is to be really honest. And your caterers are going to ask you a ton of questions that’s because they want to get familiar with what you want and also who you are. So just be prepared for that. The other suggestion that I have to give is if you have a lower budget be honest about that but also stay away from doing it yourself your guests are coming, your parents, your grandparents, aunts and uncles. They’re all coming to spend time with you and celebrate, they aren’t necessarily coming to work and if it’s something that you just have a lower budget that’s ok. Different people have different budgets and want to spend on different things but just make sure that you keep your family and friends in mind. They’re coming to celebrate and they want to be with you on your special day, it’s the biggest day of your life and let the professionals do it. The more professionals you have the smoother the day is going to be and the more fun you get to have and your guests get to have enjoying the celebration.
(Holly à) What is relish known for? (Karen à) We are known for being a custom caterer so we do not have any menus we design everything based on every client’s unique individual wants and requests. So we really like to get to know you, we like to invite you in to a tasting that complimentary that you get to try our food and we get to know you. That’s because when we’re doing something custom we need to know who you are and we want to ask you what’s important to you. Where have you been? What do you love? What do you hate? Where are we going to have the event and what is your passion? The other thing that we’re known for is that we are local. We use local resources, so it’s a big trend right now that people are wanting to use sustainable and local ingredients. We are known for that we don’t use frozen products at all we use things that are seasonal as much as possible. Sometimes we can’t get asparagus in December we definitely can’t get asparagus local in December so those are things that we are very honest with people about. We make everything from scratch we don’t use any premade sauces, we make our salad dressings we make our own sour creams we make everything from scratch. And that is something that is very unique from us. That’s because we don’t want to give you hidden valley ranch we are going to give you our home made ranch. We want to give you what you want but we really, really try to get to know you and our event design team is there to become your friend and get your trust and that we are going to make your day perfect and we do that throughout the process it’s amazing how many people we’ve had as clients who are now our friends