Every couple has different priorities for their special day. For some, the overall styling and aesthetic is the most important thing. For others, it’s the once-in-a-lifetime attire (with costume changes thrown in for good measure). For a lot of people, food is the main focus after the “I dos” are done.

You already have so much on your plate when it comes to organising your wedding, and catering can be a true labour of love. There’s more to it than just “chicken or fish”!

If you were thinking about DIY catering your wedding but don’t know where to start, or if you should, we’ve got you covered. In “Collaborate With Your Caterer To Create The Perfect Wedding Feast” by the team at Gathar – Australia’s leading collective of private chefs and caterers – they guide you through how to work with your wedding caterer to bring your dream menu to life together.

Image: Rian Shoots Weddings

Setting the table for collaboration

When it comes to catering your wedding to really showcase what you love about food or to add personal touches, collaboration with your caterer is key. Even if you’re not sure exactly what options are available to you, you should come prepared with ideas around your dining style (stand up or sit down), cuisine or dishes you love, and a ballpark budget.

Collaborating with a professional caterer can save you a lot of stress when planning your big day. They’re the experts, after all! By providing some general direction of what you think you might like, your caterer can use their culinary expertise to guide you towards specific dishes or options on offer.

Images: The Raw Photographer

There are some big questions 

Consider asking about their availability on your wedding date, their ability to accommodate dietary restrictions or cultural preferences, the services they provide, their pricing structure, and their cancellation and refund policies.

Important Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer

  • Are you available on my wedding date?
  • Can you accommodate specific dietary restrictions or preferences?
  • What services can you provide beyond the catering, such as table styling, glassware, or cake cutting?
  • Do you have a liquor license, and can you supply drinks and bar service?
  • Do you handle the logistics of equipment rental, setup, and cleanup?
  • How far in advance do you need final menu selections and guest numbers?
  • Who will be my dedicated point of contact throughout the planning process and on the day?
  • What is your cancellation and refund policy?

Image: Jasmin Sleeman

Finding the right ‘type’ of caterer

The term ‘catering’ is pretty broad, covering everything from office sandwich platters to grand galas. The type of caterer you’ll work with really depends on the size and scale of your wedding.

A large catering company isn’t always best suited to an intimate gathering of 12 people and, similarly, a private cook probably won’t have the facilities or team needed to pull off a 200-person wedding. And when it comes to budget, your per person cost will likely vary between a large caterer or independent chef, to meet the minimum costs they need to cover their overheads.

One of the best things about Gathar is we’re a community of what we like to call ‘Culinarians’, including everyone from passionate cooks to private chefs, boutique catering companies, and grazing table stylists. This means we can match you with the perfect caterer based on your style and budget.

Image: Trent & Jessie

Image: Gathar

Deciding on your menu must-haves vs nice-to-haves

One of the joys of DIY catering is the ability to create a personalised wedding menu that reflects your unique tastes and style as a couple. Working closely with your caterer means you get to curate a bespoke wedding menu that includes your favourite flavors, cultural influences, and dietary preferences.

Begin by scheduling tastings and trials with your caterer. This allows you to sample different dishes, fine-tune the menu, and ensure it exceeds your expectations. Provide constructive feedback to help your caterer refine their offerings and create a menu that perfectly suits your palate.

Images: Trent & Jessie

Be clear on what’s included (and what’s not)

When you’re working on a wedding quote with your caterer, it’s important to have a clear idea of what they will be providing and what you’ll need to source elsewhere. Alcohol, tableware, set up, and clean up are the big-ticket items you’ll want to confirm.

First, find out what’s available at your wedding venue: do they have basic kitchen facilities like fridges, freezers, utensils, pots, pans, and a stove? Will they provide the crockery, cutlery, or glassware? Or, if it’s a completely blank space like a hall or a farm, is there access to power and running water?

Larger catering companies often have the ability to provide things like glassware and cooking equipment, and may even be able to provide a complete satellite kitchen setup if required (like how they set up food stalls at a market), but smaller, independent chefs are unlikely to be able to offer this. And of course, it all comes at a cost.

Tip: you can often save a bit of cash by providing the alcohol yourself if this is an option with your caterer and venue. You’ll still need to arrange drinks service staff and glassware with your catering partner.

Images: Hugh Whitehouse

Choosing a dining style to suit the vibe

Like we said earlier, wedding catering these days isn’t limited to your standard ‘chicken or fish’ alternate drop.

Will you be having lots of small tables or a few big communal tables? The family-style shared feast where large plates are laid out down the middle of the table has become a popular choice for modern weddings. It can also be a more budget-friendly option given the way the food is prepared.

Think about the entire flow of your event. If your guests will be standing and mingling for a while before or after the ceremony, a roaming canape service or a shared grazing table can be a delicious addition to keep the crowd happy and avoid the “hangries.”

Images: Jasmin Sleeman

Putting your personal touches on it

Some fun ideas that have been trending lately at Gathar are ‘his and hers’ signature cocktails or mocktails, a cheese-wheel pasta station, and DIY cannoli dessert bar where guests can select their own toppings.

Creating your wedding menu together with your caterer means you can make sure the dishes reflect your unique style as a couple. A grazing table can provide the perfect canvas to get creative. Showcase your favourite cheeses from that trip you took to Paris, feature produce local to where you’re both from or add sugar cookies personalised with your names (these can double as your wedding favours).

Remember: don’t forget to check your menu accommodates the diverse dietary preferences and restrictions of your guests. Ask your caterer what options they can provide for vegan, gluten-free, and pescatarian guests, and flag if you have any specific cultural requirements you need them to adhere to.

Images: Hugh Whitehouse

Image: The Raw Photographer

Finally, trust in the expertise of your caterer or chef. Leverage their culinary ideas as much as possible and be open with what you want. Remember, it’s a process. You will likely go back and forth a couple of times until the quote sits comfortably between expectations (your dreams) and reality (your budget!)

With the help of an expert, you can cater your wedding without the stress of starting from scratch but still have it reflect you as a couple. Collaborate with your caterer, ask all the important questions, and put your personal touch on there and you’ll have a delicious memorable wedding day.

Images: Hugh Whitehouse

About Gathar: Gathar is Australia’s leading private chef and catering platform. Our community of talented culinary professionals services 30+ locations nationally, creating events of all shapes and sizes, whether it’s an elopement dinner for just the two of you, an all-out feast for a big family wedding, or a recovery brunch the next day. Choose from our crowd-pleasing curated menus or work with our team to go bespoke. From here, we’ll match you with the perfect chef or caterer to bring your wedding menu dreams to life. Tell us your wedding vision, or let us sprinkle our magic if you’re unsure where to start. We can’t wait to celebrate with you!