Food & Drink

What to Serve at Your Wedding: Working with a Caterer for a Tasty, Memorable Wedding Reception

By Joan Leotta

For The Sun News

Details down to the salad are important on the special day.
Details down to the salad are important on the special day.

So you have found the right spouse-to-be, and have hired a wedding planner or set up your own planning calendar. Right after setting a date and securing your dream venue, it’s time to hire the caterer and baker to provide delicious edibles for the reception guests celebrating your future happiness.

The Grand Strand boasts an abundance of terrific venues and catering choices for local brides and the many out-of-towners who choose this area as a destination wedding locale. We talked to several companies in order to give brides an idea of what to expect when dealing with a caterer, here or elsewhere. With today’s emphasis on healthy eating, one might think that requests for low calorie options would be common. However, in speaking with local caterers, I discovered low calorie is not an issue. Brides want food that tastes good and meets their theme and budget. Health concerns do arise, but these are for providing vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Additionally, all the caterers we spoke with noted that among out-of-town brides many wanted to enhance the low country and beach aspect of their wedding with the food, ordering seafood, and low country specialties, including “pig-pickings.”

What’s Available

However, several of the area’s experience caterers and caterer/bakers agreed to share their wisdom with us to better prepare you to order up a feast that will delight you, your guests, and your budget.

Kelli Catron at GiGi Noelle Events Wedding Planning also representing Creative Caterers says, “When we meet with a catering prospective client, whether or not the menu is low calorie never comes into question. First and foremost, they want delicious food. Most destination brides are looking for a mixture of foods which will be pleasing to both the eye and the palate with a concentration on Southern cuisine.” Food stations have become a very popular request. Carving stations featuring a variety of beef, turkey or ham, Southern chopped BBQ and sliders are items that many brides choose. Catron also notes that a “southern touch” is easily added to cocktail hour. Bene wafers with homemade pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, mini ham biscuits, cheese biscuits and a chicken and waffle station are among the “southern” specialties she suggests. Catron adds, “Finger or one bite foods are the easiest for a standing guest to enjoy.”

Buttercream Cakes and Catering LLC’s and Croissants Bakery and Bistro handle both elements of the food spectrum, cake and the catering, but you are not obligated to use either for both elements.

Buttercream Cakes and Catering LLC’s Ann Mayfield says,” Our Buttercream is like no other buttercream that you will find in this area. At the end of an event, it always finishes with dessert. Therefore, we named our business “Buttercream” Cakes & Catering LLC, because it is the last memory of almost every event.”

While buttercream is not a factor in the savory items, several of those items do have a sweet component. Mayfield notes that several of the firm’s signature savory dishes do have a sweet component, including a praline goat cheese appetizer, shrimp and grits bar with Tasso gravy, praline cake, their own Bourbon Brown Sugar Chicken with Kielbasa Sausage and Mushrooms, and a feta and asparagus salad. She adds, “We also make a fabulous mashed potato and sweet potato bar accompanied by praline sauce for the sweet potatoes.”

Kelli Lane, Catering Manager for Croissants Bistro and Bakery says, “ It’s important to choose a menu that compliments the ambiance of your special day whether it be a cocktail hour with light hors d’oeuvres, a plated meal or full service buffet. As far as picking out the menu, the most important thing to remember is to create a good balance between the items offered.”

Budget and Special Diets

In addition to finding a menu that tastes great and possibly reflects the southern locale of the Grand Strand, all agreed brides often are concerned with budgets and guest and wedding party special diets.

Mayfield says, “Never under staff your event or under order, but you can save money by creating your own drink station. Just make sure you take into consideration keeping the drinks stocked and cold the entire event. You can also reduce cost by providing your own disposable products for the event. Ask the caterer what size plates they recommend and the total number, especially if you are doing multiple food stations. “

Of course, before counting on being able to set up your own drink station, be sure to check with the venue since there may be special considerations for serving alcohol in some venues.

Catron adds, “When choosing a caterer, it is important to find someone who not only listens to you but will exceed your expectations by suggesting items. Food tastings are very important, although the client should understand that a caterer cannot provide a sample of everything on your menu. Always be upfront when discussing your budget. Your caterer will be able to suggest items which will fall within your economic range.”

Lane notes, “We provide custom menus and services to fit every taste and budget whether the event calls for professional servers and elaborate displays or delivery on disposables. We take care of all the details to ensure a successful & hassle-free event!”

As for dietary concerns, Mayfield says, “Most of the request coming with concerns of gluten or vegan. We have had more vegan request lately than ever. We have a variety of gluten free options, which is fairly easy to accommodate. I always recommend that my clients put at least one vegetarian appetizer and one vegetarian option on their menu.”

Lane says,” Our catering options are designed to accommodate each individual’s specific needs We offer a variety of options to meet specific dietary needs. We’ve been catering a wide variety of events on the Grand Strand for more than 22 years.” Among the many offerings are tortellini skewers with pesto, Bloody Mary shrimp shooters and southern treats such as shrimp & grit stacks, pulled pork sliders, pimento cheese biscuits and more . Their cake specialties include for beach wedding cakes, modern and traditional wedding cakes, groom cakes and cakes for wedding showers among other sweets.

Catron adds, “We always suggest a variety of fresh vegetables and salads. Regardless of the season or event, our homemade macaroni and cheese is always the most requested dish and the first to disappear. Many clients also love seafood and will ask for suggestions when choosing the menu. Oyster bars, both fried and raw are guest favorites, as well as shrimp cocktail.” Catron’s firm does not do cakes, but offers a wide array of other dessert items to complement the dinner and add to the sweet finish of the reception.

But no matter what you decide to serve, how much you decide to spend, and who you select to do the catering and/or bake your cake, the important thing to remember to select items that reflect who you (as a couple) are. The reception is a party to celebrate your start as a married couple—enjoy!

Below are ten tips gathered from the sweet and savory wisdom of the local businesses we interviewed for this article. Their contact details follow in case you want to include them among the choices you are considering to provide the edibles for your special event.

Catering a Wedding

Creative Catering (and GiGi Noelle events)

4924 Highway 17 Bypass Unit N, Myrtle Beach

973-801-8457

www.creativecateringmb.net

FB Creative Catering

FB GiGi Noelle Events

Croissants Bistro and Bakery

3751 Robert M. Grissom Pkwy, Myrtle Beach

Phone: 843-448-2253

http://croissants.net/

FB Croissants Bistro and Bakery

Buttercream Cakes & Catering LLC

843-251-1636 (Call and make appointment, no walk-in)

buttercreamcakery@yahoo.com

4924 Northgate Center Blvd Unit I, Myrtle Beach

www.lovebuttercream.com

FB Buttercream Cakes & Catering

ART Catering

910-755-6642

111 Cheers Street, Shallotte, N.C.

www.artcateringevents.com/

FB Art Catering & Events

Ten Tips to hire a caterer

1. Begin your search for a caterer as soon as you have selected the venue

2. Ask your wedding planner or recent brides for recommendations (at least three)

3. Poll your guests and wedding party for special needs (vegan , gluten-free, vegetarian, special allergies)

4. Ask venue if there are any restrictions, special rules on serving drinks, hot foods etc

5. Make a list to use to talk to caterers—number of people, date and time of the reception, your budget, special guest needs, your favorite items, your theme if you have one.

6. Ask for suggestions ready to hear what each caterer can offer, what they recommend—serving stations versus table service, how long to have the cocktail hour. Be sure to have finger-food for the cocktail hour if the guests will be standing. (Easier to eat)

7. If you are using a separate cake bakery, ask the caterer about another desserts (cookie table, small pastries ). Same for caterer who is providing a cake—cookie table, etc and if they mind you brining in cookies from family (A tradition in Pittsburgh, my home town)

8. Obtain menus from your three top choices, discuss with spouse-to-be and whoever is paying for the wedding.

9. Schedule a tasting at each place—remember that you may not be able to taste all of the items on your list

10. Go over the date, time, and order. Make sure everything is spelled out in writing including what your down payment covers, delivery time for the food, last date to make menu changes, and if there will be any additional money do as a result of those changes (e.g. you selected an item that costs more or want more of an item)

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