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 CULINARY SERVICES
interviewing to discover what is out there
to fit your specific reception needs, style and budget. Armed with an appetite and some basic information about reception planning, the process can even be fun.
One important consideration is the reception locale. The type of reception service you host is often dictated by the type of space you have reserved. Obviously, it would be impractical to host a buffet in a small or modest-sized room with only space enough for your dining tables. Con- versely, that same space may be ideal for a cocktail reception that invites mingling among your guests. A cocktail service can even be the prelude to a meal in another area of the reception site. A popular trend is to have a cocktail hour after the wedding so that the bride and groom have time to take their photographs while the guests relax and enjoy themselves.
Speaking of cocktails – or any alcohol, for that matter – it’s important to ask
whether your caterer can and will provide beer, wine and liquor. Some do not have the necessary licenses. Additionally, your reception site may have restrictions on alcohol. An experienced caterer will know if those restrictions exist and will be able to incorporate them into your plans.
In fact, an experienced caterer will usu- ally be familiar with the general workability of popular reception sites. They’ll be knowl- edgeable about the prep staff’s access to water, electrical power, and the dining hall from the kitchen (if a kitchen is even avail- able), as well as various facility restrictions such as those pertaining to capacities and decorations. Ideally, your caterer will have an existing and good relationship with staff at the reception site of your choice. You can find out by asking both parties.
Not all caterers have free reign to work at all reception sites. Some sites have a single caterer or a short list of caterers with whom they will work. Again, just ask.
Remember, too, most hotels and many country clubs will require you to use their own catering staff and service.
It is important that your caterer be licensed and insured. Most are, but be sure to get confirmation before you sign any contracts. It’s for the protection of you, your family and friends, and it is a standard in the industry.
Something else to consider is the way in which your food will be transported if it does, indeed, need to be transported. Many caterers use professional-quality food carriers to transport all their food. You obviously want the hot food to be delivered hot, and the cold food to be deliv- ered cold. Not all caterers use the standard transporting equipment, though. Some transport their food in chafing dishes, which unlit are not ideal for keeping food at appropriate temperatures.
There are several different types of reception services to choose from. You can improve your planning experience if you have a basic understanding of them before you begin. To help you along, here are some brief descriptions of various options available:
Plated. Also called “seated and served,” this type of reception service is a great option for a formal affair. Food is placed on each plate and served to each guest at the table. Plated service is more popular in hotels than in private facilities, because it requires almost twice as many service-staff people as a buffet does. Hotels are able to float a single staff between concurrent events; at a private facility, this technique is not viable. Therefore, the price per person on a sit-down service is higher, making it the most expensive option.
French. This type of reception service is similar to plated service, except that the food is divided into several serving platters. The platters are then brought to the tables, where the guests are served the foods and portions of their choosing. It’s a little like bringing a buffet to the diner. Very elegant, and often-times food stays warmer. How- ever, not all caterers are equipped with the
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