When planning a wedding you’ll want to make sure you provide food for your guests. How much you want to spend is up to you, but you don’t want to underdeliver. Whether your wedding is a small intimate affair at a private residence, or a rowdy party at a barn – Catering by Jonathan Byrd’s has great tips about what you should know before calling a wedding caterer.

1 – Your Venue & Date

Choosing your venue is first on your list in the wedding planning process. Some venues like 502 East have an exclusive caterer that they work with. If your wedding is at such a venue, you can save with packages that include your room fees and catering.

Once you have a venue picked out, you’ll want to lock in your date. Once you have this, you’ll have an over-all idea of your time line for how quickly you must get all your details together. It’s especially important to be able to present the date to the caterer because they may not be available.

If your venue does not have a specific catering list, feel free to ask for Catering by Jonathan Byrd’s. We travel just about anywhere and love to make connections with new venues. And if your venue doesn’t have a bar, but you still want a champagne toast as well as beer, wine, or cocktails for your guests, a caterer like Jonathan Byrd’s can set up a full bar on-site as well.

2 – Number of Guests

When you call your caterer you probably haven’t gotten your RSVP’s back yet, let alone sent out invitations. However, they will need to have a rough estimate of how many will be attending so they can be sure they can accommodate you.  Very rarely will 100% of the people you invite come to your wedding. On average, 10-20% of your guests will RSVP they are not coming, so be sure to factor that in when you’re estimating your count. Also, consider the distance your guests will have to travel and any other holidays going on at the time of your wedding.

Having an accurate head count will assure that you don’t pay for absent guests

Usually a few weeks to a month before your wedding date, your caterer will need your final count. You normally can’t decrease your final quoted amount significantly, or you might end up paying for people that don’t show. Some caterers also have a minimum amount of food your must order in order to host your event, so be sure to ask about that as well.

Also factor in the number of children attending your wedding. Caterers will often have special pricing for kid’s meals since they don’t eat as much as adults.  Children at your event won’t be drinking at the bar, so that can affect your bar pricing too.

The number of kids at your wedding can affect your food pricing

3 – Buffet or Plated Dinner

Having a buffet at your wedding is usually cheaper because there is less service involved. Everyone helps themselves and there isn’t as much of an emphasis on plate presentation.

However, if a plated meal is too fancy yet a buffet seems too informal for your event, you can change it up by having stations. Stations are mini buffets that feature specialty items and have a chef attending to the food as its being served. Guests like interacting with the chef and giving input on what goes on their plate.

Buffets are usually cheaper than plated dinners

If you’re scheduling time between the ceremony and reception, your guests will be looking for something to munch on while they wait for the party to start. Organizing a cocktail hour with stationed appetizers such as cheese and fruit displays or dips with chips is a great way to save money versus having butler passed appetizers. This would also apply if you want to have a late-night snack to keep the party energized throughout the night.

Having a stationed display of hors d’oeuvres instead of butler passed
will help you save on your food budget during cocktail hour

4 – How To Make Your Dinner Personal For You & Your Guests

We often ask our couples: “What are your favorite foods?” We want you to enjoy your first meal as a couple and not feel like it needs to be fancy plate for the sake of being fancy. If your favorite food is tacos, have tacos at your wedding! Guests will get a big kick out of doing something different as long as it tastes good. You don’t have to be restricted to a caterer’s standard options. Your caterer will work with you to create a custom entrée or buffet that can fit the theme of your big day.

An action station is a fun way for your guests to customize their dinner

If you or your guests have dietary restrictions, let your caterer know that too. At Catering by Jonathan Byrd’s, we strive to make vegetarians feel special and not feel like their only option is a salad. We are not an allergen-free kitchen, but it’s good to know who can’t eat nuts, shellfish, or gluten to make sure those people enjoy their dinner like everyone else.

5 – Budget

When you create an overall budget for your wedding, make a list of priorities about what you want to spend the most on. From there, assign values of how much you want to spend on each item.


Having additional snacks after dinner will also factor into your catering budget

Catering doesn’t have to be your most expensive item, but it often is if you have a high guest count and are including a cocktail hour, dinner, and snacks during dancing. Tell your caterer up front what your budget is for food. They work with you to create a menu that all your guests will enjoy sacrificing something else on your big day.

If you have enjoyed these tips, be sure to watch our Catering by Jonathan Byrd’s Wedding Specialist Taylor and Executive Chef Brett Lewis onIndy Style on April 8th at 10am. If you missed them – we got the replay for you here!

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