We used Wegmans (local grocery store but now they’re all over the northeast!) and they were fabulous! I met with a ton of caterers and “private chefs” and they drove me nuts! One told me that I HAD to have a green salad, and that if I wanted fish it HAD to be Salmon. Another told me that for $100pp I could afford to do buffet style with paper plates! When I sat down with the catering manager at Wegmans she actually said the golden words…”you can have whatever you want.” If it wasn’t on their normal catering menu they’d figure out a way to make it. Caterers often do provided more of a service than just the food, so keep that in mind when making decisions.
Social Hour: Sushi platter, fresh fruit platter, antipasto tray
Dinner: Hummus and Pitas, roasted red potatoes, seasonal, local, oven roasted veggies, sliced roast beef (so tender!), and a custom Halibut recipe created just for our wedding by their in house fish expert and the chef from Amore!
Dessert: DH ordered the cake from a local bakery and we did Italian Cookies from another local backery, Savoia. (The catering manager at Wegmans did bring me over to the bakery department to taste test some of their cookies, YUM! But they didn’t make the style we wanted in that store). From Wegmans we ordered fruit tarts and European Cheese Quartets.
The service was top-notch. My dad picked up the cold dishes (sushi, hummus, etc.) earlier in the day along with ice and non-alcoholic drinks (grocery stores in NY can’t sell wine or we would have gotten that there too), along with the other things we ordered (toothpicks!). Since they’re a grocery store they had whatever we needed and just added it all into the catering invoice. The hot foods were delivered hot right before dinner. We kept all the social hour food cold just for that reason. Dinner was served family style. We also got the beer from there ahead of time so we could chill it and dropped it off at the venue 2 days before along with the wine since we didn’t want my dad to have to pick up too much stuff the morning of.
It did take a little more coordination on my end since we didn’t have the traditional full-service catering. But, the food was 100x’s better than any of the caterers I met with and a lot less costly. I also hired servers to work the day of. They helped set things up, served the food, bartended, and cleaned everything up. I did a very specific time line that was taped down to one of the tables in the back so everybody could reference it if needed (servers, photographer, DJ, wedding party…of course it mostly went out the window once we sat down for dinner but it did help keep everything mostly on-track), and I tried to keep everything as organized as I could to help make things easier the day of. I hired the manager from our cafeteria at work (who moonlights for an event staffing company), and she brought another two servers with her. We only had 35 guests, so 3 was ok, but I wish we had 4. I paid them directly, less then if I went through a staffing company, and they made more than what the company would have paid them. I also purchased the linens and had to provide the serviceware/plates/glasses/etc. It took a lot of time to figure out what/how many I needed of everything and then find it, but the time invesment paid off by helping keeping cost down. I also hired a DOC, met with her ahead of time, and thought she’d do a great job, but she turned out to be useless (she came recommended by our officiant who was fabulous).
Oh, and I ordered the catering 2 weeks before the wedding. The day before my DH decided he wanted more flowers and called Wegmans catering who coordinated with the floral department to get the roses he wanted, and I picked them up that night when I went to get food to bring back to the hotel suite for when we were getting ready. I wish I had the foresight to pre-order that stuff, but I just went grocery shopping picked out whatever I wanted and the catering department rang me out and added it to our invoice and helped me load it into the car since I had just gotten my nails done. When I was waiting at the catering desk, employees from different departments were coming up to drop off other orders and the manager would tell them “this is our bride!” Everybody there knew us and were excited to tell me what they’d be making for our wedding.