Catering needs careful planning, whether it is for an outdoor barbecue around a pool for 30, a hangi for 60 or a formal evening dinner for 130.
The first details caterers require are the date, the time, the place and the budget. Once these are known they can work out a menu suitable for the style of the occasion and also provide staff, dishes and all necessary utensils. The menu can include predinner snacks served when guests arrive.
If the reception to be held at a vineyard, hotel, restaurant, conference centre or private club, catering will be discussed with and attended to by the food and beverage manager.
However, if the choice is a local hall, sports club, the beach or a marquee on the lawn of the family home, this is when an independent mobile catering team is called on.
Most caterers in Otago have standard menus at fixed prices, but are only too happy to discuss specialties which may be able to be worked into the menu, with perhaps some economies elsewhere. They also have a range of prices per head, depending on the type of food to be served and whether it is to be a buffet, sit-down table d'hote meal, finger food, or a series of a-la-carte dishes.
There is hardly a caterer in Otago who does not have a penchant for fresh seasonal fare and can advise on all locally grown produce available at the time of the wedding.
In many country communities women's groups have made an art form of catering as a viable fund-raising venture. With broad experience and a passion for cooking these are the unsung ``master chefs'' of New Zealand.
ALCOHOL AND NO ALCOHOL
Some weddings do not serve alcohol and make arrangements with the food and beverage manager to address this. At weddings where alcohol is served most couples are aware of the number of guests who do not drink it and make a point of also serving non-alcoholic options such as fruit punch.
For smaller gatherings the couple could consider a variety of cool ``mocktails'', although they will need to ensure that all the ingredients are on hand, as well as a bartender who knows how to mix them!
Wedding favours have until recently been in the form of confectionery treats. While these remain popular couples have become pretty imaginative over the years and today may decide on small jars of home-made relishes, chutneys and jams or tiny bags of seeds.
The jars and seed bags are inscribed with the couple's names and the wedding date.
TIP: If children are among the guests it's important that meals to suit them are arranged for.