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~ The Toronto Sun ~
(Wedding Planner; April 28, 2001)


Thursday April 28, 2001

Eat, drink and be merry
with the right caterer

With receptions accounting for more than half of most wedding budgets, finding a caterer you enjoy working with is crucial to creating an occasion to remember.

"Many venues recommend caterers they're happy with. Remember, everyone buys chicken from pretty well the same place," says Barbara Stuart-Peterson of Stuart & Saladino. "Find someone you're on the same wavelength with. You can always negotiate the menu."

Before meeting with a prospective caterer, Stuart-Peterson recommends putting together a file of magazine clippings that capture the type of reception you want - and not just food. It should include pictures of flowers, linen, cutlery, even favourite colours.

"The caterer is the hub of the wheel at a wedding," says Stuart-Peterson. "We need to know exactly what's going on, from electrical requirements to sanitation and designating jobs like where wedding gifts go and who's responsible for them at the end of the night. If you're on a budget, most food pros can offer a veritable smorgasbord of great ideas so it doesn't look like you're cutting corners. A sit-down dinner for instance, is less expensive than a buffet, which requires more food, says Stuart-Peterson.

Offering guests a choice of entrees is thoughtful, but it can actually be less costly to serve each guest several entrees - just smaller portions than if served on their own - because you won't need extra portions in case the chicken is more popular than the salmon.

"It controls the amount of food you bring," she says.

Many couples are moving away from tradition, opting for innovative ways of serving food. "Many are leaning toward a cocktail party feeling," says Stuart-Peterson. Such get-togethers lend themselves to "food stations," allowing couples to easily offer multicultural foods.

For something less complicated but still memorable, consider "one-stop shops" such as Peninsula Inn & Resort in Niagara Falls, where you can hold your ceremony and reception and book a block of rooms for guests.

Alain Tan, sales and marketing director and catering manager, recommends selecting a variety of items including vegetarians and those with food allergies.

Helmut Rast, director of operations for La Primavera in Woodbridge, breaks it down to three simple tips: "The food has to be good, the location has to be close to the couple, and the décor has to be up-to-date."

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