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A chance meeting between two friends:
'Hi John, how are you?'
'Hi Mark! Fine thanks. And you?... been a while since we last met!'
'Too long! It must have been in April at the wedding, remember?'
'Yes! Great wedding! Food was really good and there was lots!'

So many aspects to a wedding, so many decisions taken about clothing, souvenirs, invitations, cars, etc. But make no mistake. The first thing guests will remember about a wedding is the food.

It's worth spending time and a good part of your wedding budget on getting it right and choosing the right caterers who must be knowledgeable, skillful and experienced, open to your ideas and committed to the success of your day.

Experience comes into play when deciding everything. For example most people drink far less than you think they do - four to six glasses of wine or champagne per person is average for a wedding.

Your budget is an important factor. Decide how much you wish to spend per person and let your caterers know. Otherwise see what menus they has to offer. Costs are usually provided per menu item or per guest. Always make sure you ask for any 'hidden' extra costs. A common example is the corkage fee if you supply your own wine and champagne, charged per bottle opened. And remember to include the overtime of the catering staff (kitchen staff and waiters) in your budget.

Your caterers will gladly help you choose the menu, advicing on the right amounts according to number of guests invited, the right food according to current trends. They will suggest dishes appropriate to the season and will tell you if your choices need a bit more variety, or have too much variety!

Remember to be adventurous. Nowadays, people travel and eat out more often. They have tasted a wider range of food than ever before and can appreciate more exotic dishes. Whilst you cannot forget the traditional starters, go for what you really like. Today's best weddings tend to be more informal and more of a party atmosphere.

Once you've chosen your menu, ask for a food tasting! Most caterers will be more than happy to invite you to a wedding they are catering for, at a time before the guests start to arrive and offer you a small sampling. This will of course also serve to show also the presentation of the food on trays and tables, and presence (if any) of advertising material such as visiting cards and printed napkins prominently displayed.

The reception venue is important when choosing your caterers. Some venues have exclusive deals with certain caterers or are even owned by a catering company. Other venues may have good offers should you choose particular caterers. Whatever the case may be, it is best if the caterers has already worked in that venue, as they will be familiar with the layout of the place, in particular the kitchen and utensils such as fridges, cookers, shelving for food storage, etc.

You may have met the caterers during the trade fair or sampled their food during a friend's wedding. Whilst second meetings usually occur at the caterer's establishment, it is a good idea to ask for a meeting at the venue itself. In this way you will be able to visualise your reception much better and, together, come up with ideas for timing of the event, layout of tables, etc.

Last but not least, it is a good idea to meet your head waiter - often the one with most experience, usually present when you meet the caterers. He will be the one organizing and running the whole catering scene during the wedding, working hand-in-hand with your best man or organizer. You can decide with him the small things that really affect catering such as
* how many waiters to actually employ - it is a good idea to have a few extra even if only to not
have empty glasses or dirty napkins lying around.
* how to avoid having queues of people at the bar or bars, by having the waiters dish out drinks at determined intervals.



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