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Making any form of reception worry-free for the couple and their families is the caterer and staff who are adept at preparing and serving wedding food and refreshments. Because of their key role they are widely sought-after, which means bookings need to be made well in advance.
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 in hand they can work out a menu suitable for the style of the occasion, and also provide staff, dishes and all necessary utensils.
In the case of a 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 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 a few 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. Most 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.
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 alcohol and make a point of also serving non-alcoholic options. For smaller gathering 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.
Originating in America, wedding favours in the form of confectionery treats have become popular at many New Zealand weddings. Often wrapped chocolates, they are placed beside each table setting at the reception. Some companies have the wrappers custom-printed with a personal message from the bride and groom. These favours can also be sent along with thankyou notes to those who sent gifts but were unable to attend the wedding.
TIP: Couples often choose caterers by word of mouth or by personal experience. However, if this is not the case some caterers will provide couples the opportunity to sample their food.
To find out more about local businesses offering wedding catering services check out our wedding services guide.