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. We like simple food. We eat cereal for breakfast, a salad with chicken for lunch, and pasta for dinner—with extra veggies. But at the same time, we 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 we still didn’t know exactly what we wanted.

Best part of it all: her prices are totally reasonable. 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.

Brunch

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?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Lemur

Location:
Greenville, South Carolina
Wedding Date:
May 2013
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  1. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 12:35 pm

    I think incorporating sandwich trays into the menu are a good way to make it brunch-ier. Another typical menu item (around here – Pittsburgh – anyway) is a pasta dish. I totally think brunch = breakfast & lunch and I definitely think you can manage to have both!

  2. Member
    sword 1029 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:37 pm

    I love brunch food! I would expect to see mostly breakfast items but I think a mix of breakfast and lunch is totally acceptable. Feed your guests the food you two love! :)

  3. Member
    mswallaby 2066 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:09 pm

    Ohh I think brunch sounds perfect! I prefer breakfast food (def my favorite meal of the day – pancakes, waffles, etc.) but variety is always important when you’re catering to a big group of people. 6-8 meal items sounds totally reasonable!

  4. Member
    peonies327 188 posts, Blushing bee @ 1:11 pm

    I’m having a morning wedding / brunch reception as well, couldn’t be more excited!

  5. Member
    josina 687 posts, Busy bee @ 1:16 pm

    I went to ‘brunch’ this weekend at a fancy restaurant… the spread included typical breakfast fare like waffles, cinnamon rolls, sausage, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, but also had chicken alfredo, mashed potatoes, prime rib, and ham.

  6. Member
    thirdtimebride 483 posts, Helper bee @ 1:21 pm

    Whoever told you brunch was just breakfast at lunchtime was sorely mistaken–a proper brunch could be all breakfast items, all lunch items, or (most commonly) a combination of the two. The meal generally falls between 10am and 2pm, but even that has some wiggle room.

    We’re doing a 3 course brunch and our tentative menu includes starting with a fall soup (butternut squash or sweet potato), followed by quiche and salad, and then petite country-fried steak with biscuits and gravy (that was FI’s choice).

    The important thing is to have variety and balance without the foods being too heavy. If you have an omelet or waffle station, make sure there’s plenty of fruit and veggies to balance it. A carving station is a nice addition to a brunch menu–ham or roast beef–with small rolls and some condiments if a guest is more in the lunch/sandwich mode instead of eggs, etc.

  7. Member
    lealorali 4827 posts, Honey bee @ 3:58 pm

    Wait, you are planning a wedding and don’t have voicemail set up?!!!!

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    sarah, Guest @ 4:20 pm

    Brunch can mean whatever you’d like :)

    But, according to Wiki: Brunch is a meal eaten between breakfast and lunch, and is a substitute for both these meals. The word is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch.

  9. Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 5:31 pm

    @StephK527: Ahh I’m totally thinking of doing sandwich trays and a pasta salad! I love you for making me feel so much better about my meal decision ;)

  10. Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 5:32 pm

    @lealorali: Umm isn’t that the worst ever?? I promise I set it up RIGHT AWAY after that!

  11. Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 5:33 pm

    And everyone else: you all are awesome! I really appreciate your encouraging words! I can’t wait to decide on a menu with you all.

  12. Member
    DBS5127 220 posts, Helper bee @ 5:57 pm

    I definitely think of brunch as breakfast and lunch! Also think about yourself a bit – my guess is that you will have been up and around for quite a bit by reception time. I know once my day is in full swing, I’m not big on breakfast foods (I know many don’t feel that way), so I’d want some lunch foods there for me! I can’t wait to see what you decide – brunch reception is a possibility for me too!

  13. Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 6:41 pm

    I think of brunch as a breakfast menu with more savory items since my breakfasts are always sweet :)

  14. Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:15 pm

    I told my husband brunch means breakfast+lunch just days ago… oh, well.
    I think 6 items are enough, but that is just me.

  15. Member
    clairebear000 309 posts, Helper bee @ 2:33 am

    To me brunch is normally breakfasty, usually pancakes/waffles/eggs benedict that sort of thing.
    You can definitely have more lunchy type of things though. In the UK you would have to serve bacon rolls or face a backlash!

    I think having cold-cut meat, pasta or potato salad and quiche is a really good way of bringing in lunch-type foods and having them suit a brunch set-up. Plus juice, champagne, maybe coffee flavoured cocktails, yum! Oo chocolate milk! Sorry, getting carried away hehe

  16. Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 7:07 am

    @Mrs. Toadstool: I thought six items would be enough too—especially since one of the items would potentially be an assortment of muffins and cinnamon rolls and another would be a mix of several kinds of quiche. So there’s variety within the items too!

  17. Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 7:07 am

    @clairebear000: I hadn’t even though of chocolate milk but now I NEED to have it! Haha :)

  18. Member
    superduperbrit 2466 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:28 am

    We had a brunch wedding and it was one of my favorite things about the day — WEDDING DAY WAFFLES FOR THE WIN!

    We had lots of variety =) so I’ll list some things for you.

    Cocktail hour we used our fruit display and cheese display that was included in our brunch so we didn’t have to buy more food. For the main meal we used scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, croissants, made to order waffles (syrup/powder sugar/fresh berries/whip cream to top them), assorted breakfast pastries, turkey, ginger beef and rice, VA ham alfredo, and other stuff. I can’t think of it all on the top of my head. Oh, soups! We had two kinds of soups :) and of course coffee/tea/water/juice/milk/wine/beer.

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