Organising a reception for 50 to 100 people is something most people never do — apart from when planning a wedding.
Whether you are planning the wedding reception yourself, or have decided to pass the buck to wedding professionals, you will need to know what options are available to you and hoe expensive this is all going to be.
Hotels can often provide a large range of menus to choose from for the wedding meal. This can range from a simple buffet to a formal sit-down lunch or dinner.
Most wedding venues should quote you a price per head for the food. This will inevitably vary, depending on the overall rating of the hotel and the area in which it is located.
Consider how much hotels will charge you to hire out the reception room as these prices can go as far as several hundred pounds. Again, these prices will vary greatly, depending on how extravagant the reception will be and what food will be ordered.
A three course meal will be very expensive and have a great impact on your budget, whereas a simple buffet will of course, be cheapest.
Due to the recent economic downturn, we are all interested in value for money and so it is essential that you shop around and make comparisons between locations, costs and facilities before deciding on your final venue. Places book up long in advance so be sure to do all this early.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are often useful and if your wedding reception is to take place in a large city, perhaps try the council or universities as both often have very attractive buildings which can all be perfect for a reception.
You don’t need to stick rigidly to the menus that are on offer from the reception. Ask for alternatives if you would prefer something a little different to the usual desserts found at most weddings.
By choosing seasonal foods, you are likely to keep the price down. Asking for strawberries in December is likely to be tricky to get a hold of and will push your price up.
Establish the number of guests you expect to attend as most caterers will ask for a rough guide initially, but will require exact numbers later on. Remember, you will be charged for those who do not show up.
You will also need to know the final date for which you will be charged for the number of people attending. Amendments can be made up to 48 hours before the function.
Deciding on the drinks to be served is the next hurdle to overcome. Champagne is the traditional drink as far as toast are concerned but many couples are now choosing it to serve throughout the entire reception and the meal too.
This may be a very expensive road to go down but don’t forget that a certain part of your guests won’t be drinking as they will be on driving duty for the evening so it’s not always the bank breaker many people expect it to be.
Champagne could be used just for the toasts and the house wine for the rest of the meal. A much cheaper and increasingly popular alternative is also the enormous range of sparkling wines now available. They are often slightly sweeter and so appeal to more people.
As a good estimate of how much you will need, you should allow six glasses of champagne to each bottle and just three glasses per person (which is half a bottle) for a buffet lasting about two to three hours.
Again, if you are having wine to accompany the meal, it is normal to allow half a bottle per head.
If you have decided to hold your reception in your own home, you need to do research into finding your own caterer. You may be lucky enough to have a friend or relative who is qualified enough to provide the wedding feast for you. Scour the local press for advertisements.
There is much more freedom of choice when it comes to selecting the food for your wedding. But as a general rule, a light, uncomplicated meal will satisfy more guests than a large, extravagant feast.
Although do not feel you need to stick rigidly to the ‘safe’ option of salmon or chicken. Roast beef is very popular, especially for a winter wedding. Lemon sole is an unpredictable choice but is still likely to be popular with many people. Perhaps a caterer can suggest something different if none of these ideas appeal to you.
Going back to the couples roots is sometimes a success. For example, if one of the happy couple has origins that go back to France or Italy, there are many wonderful dishes available to choose from. Don’t forget to provide a vegetarian dish for those who don’t eat meat. Something pasta-based is always a good option.
Your local off-license is a good source for finding refreshments for your guests. They can supply you with an endless variety of wine, sparkling drinks and soft drinks. They are also likely to give you a discount if you buy in bulk, provide you with ice and even offer to loan you glasses.