Wedding Catering Options Explained *

Image by May Iosotaluno. See more of this real wedding here.

Location, decor, catering…oh my! There are many big decisions that go into bringing your dream wedding to life. For all the foodie couples, we’ve got you covered. From plated meals to food trucks—get ready to feast on endless wedding day catering options. We’re taking the stress out of planning by explaining all the info you need to know about wedding catering in one place. 

Before choosing your caterer, you’ll need to have your venue booked and understand any limitations that they’ll have on the vendors you’ll be able to hire. If you’re unsure about how to find the perfect venue for your wedding, check out our venue guide. Then, come back and read through all of the options available to feed yourselves and your wedding guests.

Different Meal Styles

Once you’ve selected your venue, consider the type of meal you’d like to entertain your guests with. Keep these in mind on your catering journey to ensure that there’s no confusion between you, your wedding dream team, and your guests.

Plated Meals

If you’re looking for a formal, served meal, this option is for you. Plated meals typically include three courses: appetizer, entree, and dessert. Though this adds an intimate nature to your wedding, keep in mind this type of meal comes with extra planning and preparation—from formulating a seating chart to collecting guest’s food choices and dietary restrictions (typically from their RSVP). Then, you’ll need to communicate these to your caterer. 

Passed Appetizers

Couples wanting a more relaxed reception—without sacrificing plentiful and delicious foods—should opt for a passed appetizer option. Typically passed appetizers are combined with the cocktail hour and include bite-sized snacks that are served by catering staff. 

Images by Lindsay Hackney Photography. See more of this real wedding here.

Hors D’oeuvres 

From charcuterie tables—also known as grazing tables—to sliders, hor d’oeuvres have become a popular wedding food option. This is a perfect meal selection for couples looking to combine food presentation and taste to enhance their reception. Usually set in a buffet style, guests can come and go as they please and have the choice of endless food options. This is sure to add a relaxed vibe to any wedding day, without having to sacrifice mouth-watering foods. 

Cake and Punch

A fun and budget-friendly catering option is a “cake and punch” reception. Instead of serving your guests a full sit-down meal, you jump right to wedding cake and drinks—we’re all for skipping straight to dessert. This is a perfect option for late-night weddings or short and sweet celebrations. 

Image by Emily Battles Photography. See more of this real wedding here.

Catering Styles Vary

You’ve selected the meal style fit for your wedding vibe and theme, now it’s time to determine execution. There are catering styles fit for every couple and every wedding size. Whether you’re wanting a hands-on catering experience or wanting to assemble a team of industry professionals to take the reins, you’re sure to find a catering style here that is perfect for you. 

Venues With In-House Catering 

If you’re searching for ways to simplify your wedding planning process, some venues offer in-house catering. This style of catering means the venue takes full reign of the catering duties from setup to tear down, and everything in-between. No extra time needed to coordinate between the caterer and the venue—it’s already done for you. Of course, you’ll still be able to work with the in-house catering team on the menu.

DIY Catering

With weddings getting smaller, more couples are opting to DIY major elements of their weddings—like decor and food. Maybe you love cooking and want to prep the meal yourselves, whatever the reasoning may be, do it yourself catering is always an option. By going with a DIY approach you’re able to directly control the flavor and outcome, without having to sacrifice quality. 

Hire a Caterer 

Hiring a top-notch caterer is one of the easiest ways to reduce your wedding planning stress. A professional caterer will take care of the procurement, planning, cooking, and cleanup. The caterer will also impact your reception experience by limiting your wedding day work. This way, you can be present and soak up all of the memories. 

Consider reaching out to your favorite restaurant as a fun way to show off local dining to your guests. 

Image by May Iosotaluno. See more of this real wedding here.

Food Trucks

Options, options, and more options. If you’re dreaming of a relaxed reception vibe with a variety of food options, food trucks are an ideal catering option. This can also be an easy way to appease many different dietary restrictions and preferences. Whether you’ve got vegans or gluten-free guests, there are trucks for everyone. 

This style of catering also adds fun to any styled reception, not to mention the endless food options that are offered on wheels nowadays. 

Cocktail Party Reception 

A cocktail party reception means skipping the meal and instead indulging in a variety of hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Cocktail party food opens the door to creativity. This can mean an oversized charcuterie table or passed appetizers. This reception food option is perfect for couples looking to customize every part of their reception—from the food options, to the decor—and for couples that want their reception bar to be the main event. 

Images by Epic Love Story. See more of this real wedding here.

There is no better way to kick off your marriage than with a reception that is authentically you. From the wedding catering options to the reception drinks, every element should be a reflection of you, your partner, and your union. If you’re searching for ways to make your reception unique without breaking the bank, you won’t want to miss these tips for decorating your reception space on a budget


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