Thursday, January 17, 2013

Choosing a Caterer (and a menu!)

Before we decided on a venue, I looked around at caterers in the area and got majorly discouraged. Either the prices were way too high for our budget—or the sites were hard to navigate and uninformative. I didn't know if I could find anything to fit our vision, which has slowly evolved into...

A casual morning wedding and brunch reception celebrating family and love.

Then we finally found our venue. *cue sigh of relief*

Along with the venue came the options to use the venue's caterer, do our own catering (although we would have to pay for the use of the kitchen), or bring in an outside caterer. Here's where I need to make a confession: food is not a big deal to me. I like simple food. I eat cereal for breakfast, a salad with chicken for lunch, and pasta for dinner—with extra veggies. But at the same time, I want to provide our guests with plenty of healthy (ish), good-tasting food.

I finally got in contact with the venue's caterer (a mix-up that was partly my fault and partly our venue's fault—let's just say I either need to answer my phone more often or set up my voicemail) about three weeks after first touring our venue. I talked to her on the phone and walked away from our conversation feeling SO good about it! She was a sweet older lady with a southern accent and a willingness to do whatever—but she also had her own ideas and direction, which was great since I still didn't know exactly what I wanted.

Best part of it all: her prices are totally reasonable and scaleable. We'd be paying her per item, so we can choose how much we want to spend per person by choosing how many items we want to have out. I think we've struck a good balance between being money-conscious and providing a good meal. We scheduled a tasting with her and as long as her food is edible (just kidding—it has to be at delicious too), we're definitely booking her for the reception.

Enough words—let's look at some inspiration pictures. Well... about that. It's overwhelming. I typed "brunch reception" into Google images, thinking I'd get a few cute pictures I could draw from. Instead, I got this, plus hundreds of recipes and menu suggestions.

Umm, it's overwhelming. Where to even start? Also, apparently brunch doesn't mean breakfast + lunch—it just means breakfast at lunch time. My original thought had been to include both breakfast and lunch foods in the same meal. What do most people do for a brunch reception menu? I know it's not super common, but there are some out there!

I'm also unsure about how many items to include. Does six to eight meal items (not including beverages) sound reasonable? I want to make sure my guests are well-fed—but we're also working on a tight budget here.

What do you think? Is it ok to do half breakfast items and half lunch items? What would you want to see in a "brunch" menu?

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