How to Pick Your Destination Wedding Menu!


For us food is definitely in our top 5 most important AND expensive elements for a wedding. Your guest count, preferences, budget, location / season should be considered when selecting your menu.

We firmly recommend having a caterer focus on getting your delicious menu to your guests hot and very well served AND a bar service to focus on drink quality and presentation.

How much does wedding catering cost?

Choosing your wedding menu is super important as it sets the tone for the rest of your reception. Having a carefully thought out menu from start to finish will have your guests feeling full and ready to get down on the dance floor; if not, they’ll be ready to leave after the formalities so they can something to eat elsewhere.

Depending on the type of culinary expertise (a restaurant catering quote is TOTALLY different from that of a Gourmet Chef or Culinary Artiste), your menu selections, style of service, amount of guests and location, you may look to fork out (pun intended LOL) anywhere between $3000 to $15,000.

How should you choose your menu?

1.    Budget – I highly recommend that a budget be set along with a buffer to cushion any additional costs. Be sure to know and stick within your limit before selecting your menu. Items like shrimp, steak, lobster and lamb are on the pricier side.

2.    Number of Guests – I know you must’ve mentally noted this part by this! Yup! The more guests you have is the heavier your catering bill will be. You are billed per person, so let’s say your selections came to $85 per person for hors d oeuvres, appetizers, entrée and dessert then $85×100 pax = $8500 would be your subtotal. Additional charges will apply.

3.    Serving Style – Depending on what you want your guest experience to be, the food serving style plays a big role. The serving styles are butler passed, buffet, plated, family style and stations.

4.    Wedding Theme – While this isn’t necessary, matching your wedding menu to the décor theme would be a nice. If your wedding theme is elegance then you may want to go with a plated meal with an entrée like lamb with pepper jelly, basil pesto along with seasonal veggies.

5.    Telling Your Love Story – This a super nice way of personalizing your wedding. If you both love sliders, then a mini slider bar for cocktail hour would be great with a cute sign that says, “You’re The Only Bun For Me”.

6.    Seasonal Food – Using local food items that is in season is sure to work in your favor. Items that have to be imported in are definitely going be more expensive. Veggies like carrots, string bean and cauliflower are grown locally in Jamaica. Items like asparagus are imported in.

7.    Trust your Caterer – If you’re inclined to use a gourmet chef or culinary artiste to tantalize the taste buds of your guests, my recommendation is trust them completely after giving them insights as to what proteins you’d like to serve. They will go into their magical room and whip out an amazing menu!

What are the different ways to serve wedding food?

When determining your wedding menu, a big factor will be how you’re planning on serving the meal. Here are a few serving styles for weddings:

·         Plated: Otherwise known as a sit-down meal. This is where your guests will be served their meal at their table by a member of the wait staff. There may be a single entrée option served or several entrée options, which your guests can either order in advance (usually on their RSVP card) or at the event. This is the most formal and traditional of wedding serving styles. This style is not recommended for larger groups at an outdoor location. Service maybe slow and food served cold.

·         Buffet: For a more casual serving style, guests can serve themselves or be served by a server from a buffet station. This is definitely recommended for larger groups. Mirrored buffet lines are recommended for 150 and more guests.

·         Family-Style: Servers provide large platters of food to reception tables, and guests pass the trays around and serve themselves. This can be done for both small and large groups. The chef will prepare platters based on number of guests seated per table.

·         Stations: A more modern service style that allows guests to walk around, mix and mingle during the reception instead of sitting at their tables. Each station focuses on one to three items and can be an action station. For example, you may have an action pasta station where the chef prepares to order pasta based on a few offerings which could be alfredo or marinara. Your guests can add chicken or shrimp if they desire.  

·         Butler Passed: Also known as tray passed. This is used mostly for cocktail hour where the wait staff walk around with trays of finger food and your guests take from the tray. This is a nicer touch as your guests won’t have to walk over to a buffet line to get food; instead they can get comfortable at a cocktail table and socialize.

What is included in a wedding catering package?

A standard wedding catering package includes the following:

·         Food: The wedding food cost is the most obvious part of a wedding catering package. You’re paying for the actual food that your guests will eat during cocktail hour and the main meal.

·         Staffing: Each catering company may have on staff an event or service manager, cooks, servers, bussers and scullions there to ensure a smooth reception.

·         Setup Fee: This covers plates, glassware, utensils and chafers to keep the food hot. They will also setup a mobile kitchen which may include stoves, heating lamps and washstands.

·         Additional fees: Caterers may charge additional fees which may include transportation, cake cutting fees, corkage fees and more. Be sure to read your contract carefully and ask questions to make sure you understand your wedding catering cost.

What is the average wedding catering cost per person?

For a plated meal, the average cost is $40 -75 per person. For a buffet, the average is $27-60 per person.

Is a wedding reception buffet always the cheaper option?

Most of the time, a wedding reception buffet is indeed less expensive than a plated dinner. While you’ll pay less in staffing and rentals for a buffet-style meal, you’ll need more food since guests are serving themselves. To keep your buffet budget-friendly, avoid serving costly foods (shrimp, for example) buffet-style or have a staffer on hand to serve your guests from the buffet to keep the portions under control.

How can you save money on your catering?

Here are a few tips that help you save money without sacrificing quality food and service:

·         Be selective with cocktail hour: During cocktail hour, more expensive food items (lobster, shrimp, etc.) should be served as passed hors d’oeuvres while less expensive foods can be served on stationary platters. You can also ask your caterer for cost effective recommendations.

·         Order in advance: Ask you guests to pre-order when they RSVP. Using a website for your guest information hub can come in very handy here. Usually it provides a report based on selections. This helps your caterer to accurately bill you. This way it keeps the cost of a plated dinner down.

·         Serve brunch instead: Having a daytime wedding can help you save money in many ways, especially catering! Brunch food tends to cost less than dinner options—but it’s equally as delicious!

·         Get an accurate guest count: Many couples overestimate their guest count, which can lead to a lot of wasted food—and a higher wedding catering cost!

Should you do a tasting with your caterer?

Yes, absolutely if you are able to travel! If you cant before the wedding, I recommend you trust your planner to assist with the decision making as chances are s(he) may have worked with the caterer before; if not, s(he) can do a tasting on your behalf.

Caterers usually charge for a tasting while some offers it complimentary if you hire them.

When should I hire my wedding caterer?

If you wish to work with a gourmet chef or culinary artiste, just like your photographer, we recommend hiring one 12-9 months before your wedding as they are usually high in demand. For catering companies, 9-6 months prior to your wedding is fine.

What questions should I ask a wedding caterer before hiring?

To ensure a smooth experience with your wedding caterer, here are several questions you should before hiring.

·         How much flexibility do we have in terms of our menu options?

·         What service styles do you offer?

·         Can you handle allergies and dietary restrictions?

·         Do you provide rentals?

·         How does menu tasting work?

·         What service styles do you offer?

·         Can you provide vendor meals?

Have questions or thinking about getting married in Jamaica? Click this link and fill out the contact form, we’d love to connect with you!

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About The Owner

Our Owner and Senior Event Planner, Franciene Foster, is a certified wedding consultant with a decade of experience in the business.