Before you make a choice set a catering budget. Once you have found out the cost of all options sometimes it is simply a matter of the amount you have to spend.
The type of reception you choose will affect greatly the end cost.
The choices are many and varied –
• Formal sit down 2 or 3 course meal with service
• Formal sit down 2 or 3 course meal with buffet
• Self serve buffet with no formal seating arrangements
• Cocktail party format with finger food with waitress service
• Cocktail party format with self service food laid out
• Picnic style with self serve from buffet and rugs on the grass
• Food vans that arrive at a set time and guests order what they want
• Coffee vans that arrive after the meal

The menu you choose will also affect the cost. Once you have decided the reception type the food choice will be easy.
There are basically three types of catering
1. You hire a caterer and this usually comes with one chef and one waitress
2. You order and collect platters of pre-prepared food and simply have the family put this out for your buffet
3. You or the family cook your own and have a self serve buffet
The layout and décor is the next factor to be considered.
 If you are having a sit down meal you need to decide who is going to set the tables

The caterer will set tables for an extra cost
You can employ someone to set the tables and decorate
You can do this yourself

Catering is probably one of the most expensive parts of the occasion. Whilst a lot of couples still like to sit down at a formal dinner table other options are becoming popular.
The most expensive idea is to have guests seated with place settings and waited on for a two or three course meal.
The next option which is slightly cheaper is to seat your guests but get them to choose their own meal from a buffet table thus only requiring a couple waiters.
The idea of having platters of food placed on each table and getting table guests to share these around is just a little cheaper again and still have people sitting at tables with place settings. The entrees and desserts are then replaced by a serve yourself savoury table before the dinner and a self-serve dessert table at the end.
Cocktail parties are also coming into vogue right now. These have a series of platters being taken around by waitresses or placed on self-service tables for guests to help themselves.
At the cocktail parties guests are not seated but able to mingle with other guests and eat as much or as little as they choose. Usually a few small tables and chairs are placed strategically around the area for those who choose to sit while they eat. Small plates and serviettes usually serve the purpose without the cost or need to supply knives and forks and dinner plates.
Picnic Style receptions are another option. These are usually set up on the lawn area. Some choose to put a few chairs, a few hay bales or some picnic blankets around and again the food is arranged on self-serve tables for guests to help themselves. These are usually for afternoon weddings. Some even opt for picnic baskets.
Then of course there the families who love to cook and simply cater for themselves.
And what’s wrong with a bar-b-q?
Ideas from Margaret!


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