You don’t need that much cake, and other things I’ve learned from catering weddings

Guest post by Haley
Wedding drip cakes
Photo by Tennille Fink Photography | Planning And Design: Him and Her Events | Cake by Hansel & Gretel Specialty Cakes

I have very limited experience with weddings from the guest side of things — like maybe five in my entire 31 years of living. But I have a ton of experience from the vendor side of things, allowing me to see a wide range of budgets and styles in the wedding world.

I thought I'd share a few observations that seem to be universal about weddings…

Most people don't have a lot of decor at their wedding

Maybe it was just our clientele — I worked at a non-profit catering company whose main venue was a bookstore so the customers were typically at least a tad offbeat — but it seemed like upwards of 90% of the weddings we catered had very minimal decor. Certainly very few had large/grand centerpieces. I'd venture to say about 75% of the clients that used our venue opted to just have stacks of books and votive candles, sometimes with the addition of flowers or herbs. Off-site weddings weren't much different. Nine out of ten opted for just tablecloths with no overlays (or no tablecloths at all if the tables were pretty).

This is what the majority of real weddings I worked at did. For real people. Not for magazines or TV shows or what-have-you. Since most of my previous experiences with weddings involved television or movies, this really surprised me at first.

A staffed buffet can actually save you money

_3004737wPeople will pile way more food on their plates than they are capable of eating if you let them self-serve. Hiring the additional two or three staff members to man your buffet will reduce your food costs by a good chunk. Yes, we had to charge more for food for people who didn't have staff for the buffet because we knew it meant we needed to make at least 25% more food, most of which went straight in the trash. People could always get seconds or thirds with it staffed, and we never ran out. Bonus: the line tended to move faster.

Family-style dining has the same staffing and food volume needs as a buffet, so the costs are comparable (slightly more platters, slightly fewer plates, almost a wash there). In my opinion, a staffed buffet is a cheap way to “nicen up” your reception.

Go outside your caterer for special food needs

If you have just a few guests with specific food allergies/restrictions, it is often cheaper to order them a meal from somewhere else than to have your caterer make something extra for them. This might be much easier to do in larger cities than elsewhere, but it worked really well all the times we did it. Gluten free, vegan, low sodium, kosher — we could do all of this for a whole menu, but to make just one item fit these needs was always an expensive option for the clients, and a pain in the ass for us. We handled the whole thing by ordering, picking up, and re-plating for the guest.

Children's meals are easy

While special dietary needs are hard, making something that can be plain for the finicky eaters and small children is easy. This can be as simple as having the pasta/chicken/whatever not tossed in the sauce beforehand. Usually there is no problem doing this. Just ask your caterer to do so BEFORE your wedding day.

You don't need that much cake

If you have a full meal, you probably don't need as much cake as online tipsters say you do. You have no idea how many times I've brought the entire bottom tier of a wedding cake home because no one wanted it after the wedding. And the bottom tier is the largest portion — think about that a moment. But your catering staff will love you for ordering more than you need; cake for breakfast for most of my floor of my apartment building never got old.

No one likes fondant

No one. Especially whoever has to cut your cake. It's pretty, but that's it.

Fairy Food table

If there is a large gap between your ceremony and your reception

Provide snacks pre-meal time. Otherwise the catering staff gets the stink eye and your guests get grumpy. Fruit and cheese is fine. Popcorn is fine. Cotton candy is fine. Just something to keep blood sugar and spirits up.

People will take your centerpieces

They'll especially take the floral ones. Unless you tell them not to. I've seen people alert their guests in various ways: notes on the bottom of the centerpieces are usually good, or tell the catering staff if you don't want them taken. The catering staff can help run interference, but you still need to make it known.

If you DO want to give away your centerpieces, also tell your staff and they can line them all up near the door just before the end.

Your reception will be just fine, no matter what

As long as there is enough food and space for everyone, people will have a good time. Games are nice. Music is nice. Themes are nice. But nice isn't the same as essential. Bare bones will do. Really. It will be beautiful and memorable and your jaded catering staff will still feel that warm tingle in the bottom of their hearts — and they're perfect strangers who do this twice weekly! Any snafus will be instantly forgiven. Any oversights can be overcome.

Sure, true disasters happen sometimes, but that just makes things memorable. In all the hundreds of weddings I saw, nothing truly horrible ever happened. Yes, brides tripped, great aunt Martha hated the chicken and sometimes drank too much to make up for it. But things always felt happy. The couple always looked happy. The guests always seemed happy to be there, loving the couple. Every single time.

Those perfect strangers on your catering staff really do care about making your wedding perfect

They regularly go the extra mile, manage the last-minute request, put up with the lack of three staff members you couldn't afford to hire, deal with all sorts of emergencies you never hear about because that's our job. Treat them like fellow human beings and they will go to the greatest lengths to make your day awesome. Treat them poorly… well, who cares about this wedding. All it takes is politeness when speaking to them and early communication to work out the kinks when possible.

Caterers and couples who have been there/done that: Do you have anymore insider tips for our readers?

photography: Wild About You Photography

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Comments on You don’t need that much cake, and other things I’ve learned from catering weddings

  1. Thank you for this! The “Most people don’t have a lot of decor at their wedding” part is very reassuring! I’ve been feeling like we don’t have enough decor, especially during the ceremony…do I need an aisle runner? Flower petals carefully strewn? An archway? Paper lanterns? I had already decided to forgo all of that stuff, but this post validates my decision. And I like validation!

    • I’m actually planning my own wedding and have to constantly remind myself of all of this – that minimal decor is normal decor and it will be just fine no matter what. Glad my thoughts are helping you!

    • I had zero decor :cue pearl clutching: No one noticed. We had a nice looking space to begin with and I was lazy.

      The only person who commented was our photographer, when giving us our photos said that she was happy to do a wedding where 99% of the pictures were of people instead of stuff.

    • Seriously, don’t panic. Our reception is being held in such a gorgeous building, I made the conscious decision not to ‘over-decorate’ – and the closer I get to the big day, the more I don’t want to pile yet more tat into my venues.

      My theory is: if it can’t be recycled, is biodegradable or if it can’t be used again (like those plastic gem table confetti things), it’s not being used. As a result I’m going for hessian and lace table runners – both can be sent for rags if needed, dried lavender and fresh flowers (biodegradable), and small slate hearts for chalkboards to write quotes on, which are actually repurposed Christmas decorations I got after Christmas for 25p each.

      That’s it. That really is it. The bridemaids flowers are wrist corsages on silver bangles (can be reused), the buttonholes for the men are wrapped in a small amount of hessian, and even the groom’s suit is just a really nice suit he can wear again for job interviews or whatever.

      Remember: it’s your day. People are there to see each of you marry the person you love, and for you both to publicly commit to each other. They haven’t travelled all that way to look at an aisle runner or a hired plastic archway – they are there to see you and celebrate with you. Remember that, you’ll be fine.

  2. The last tip resonated the most with me–everyone should think of catering staff (or any staff) as people who are a part of their wedding day, and treat them accordingly!

    We chose to have our wedding at a beautiful old train station that is now an event space with a full catering team. There were so many things right about it, but it’s funny, the thing we got the most compliments for about the venue was the staff–people kept saying how sweet the waitstaff was, how well taken care of they were, and they couldn’t stop raving about Dan the bartender. We got lucky, because we never thought about investigating the quality of the staff, but they wound up mattering a lot as people who were part of the day and made it better. We were so grateful!

  3. I just wanted to say thanks for this post. It’s made me more confident in some of the choices we’ve made for our upcoming wedding (minimal decorations, buttercream icing for the cake) and reminded me not to stress so much about the little things (choosing *just* the right music for the reception playlist, how to package the favors).

  4. I like fondant!
    And (as a vendor) I like being treated nicely by the couple and guests. We’re people, too!

    • I agree! As long as fondant is done right, it can be beautiful and tasty! Besides, some cake toppers don’t sit well on regular icing.

      • Yay for fondant lovers! I have a bucket in my kitchen that me and my husband snack on like candy. Mmmm.

      • As a cake decorator who doesn’t use fondant, I had to chime in – Toppers will sit fine on any cake, as long as there’s support. With a really heavy topper, this usually means a small board on top of the cake, under the icing, supported by dowels or straws.

        • I like fondant too… I also like buttercream… Basically I like sugar. 😀

          • The fondant on our cake was delicious, and everyone loved it. It was also really easy to cut (we did all the cutting ourselves, and allowed guests to self serve what we didn’t cut). It had a marshmallow flavour to it, and the fondant figures that we saved still smell so delicious.

    • i love fondent, alot of my family not so much, and i don’t like fruit cake, so i would eat the fondent and they would eat the cake. yum.

  5. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! These things have been circling in the back of my mind like sharks causing random panic attacks and “Mercury Glass Moments” I’m thinking I will have back ground music, maybe a little dancing but since my beloved does not dance It’s kinda much for us. I’d like a big ol party where we all just hang out and socialize. It’s gonna be a costume party so that should be fun. It’s what I’ve seen happen time and again among our friends with no problem.

  6. Great tips, thank you. In my case, though, I want too much cake (yeah, something weird about me and cakes…. And I like fondant…. I know again, weirdness, but only my baker’s great homemade fondant 😉 ) also I wanted to add thanks for telling us about ordering the special food, I always feel weird and cheap when I decide to get one portion from somewhere else!!!

    • There are a few varieties of truly tasty fondant out there! They just aren’t the norm – at least in my experience. And having lots of cake is awesome! Cake for breakfast the day after your wedding? Yes please. Maybe for lunch too 🙂 I would suggest you prearrange how to transport and store it post ceremony so you don’t have to figure that out on your wedding night.

      • Echoing the figure out how to store and transport the extra cake suggestion. Luckily, I was going home after my afternoon wedding and not spending the night in a hotel, because we a good 30-60 minutes cutting the leftover cake into manageable chunks, wrapping some pieces to pass out to friends/family and wrapping some in plastic wrap and tinfoil for the freezer. Leftover cake is awesome and delicious, but takes up fridge/freezer space.

        Also — I had a decor minimal wedding and not having to worry about transporting decor was great and no one commented on the decorations or lack thereof.

  7. Our caterer was so awesome! We did strawberry shortcake for our wedding cake and the biscuits they made special for it were out of this world! Delicious, HUGE, flaky. My husband and I were eating our shortcake by ourselves in the room where the food was served and we asked the caterers to come in so we could thank them. I realized later they were probably freaked out, being told that the bride and groom want to talk with them in the middle of the reception. Oops! But, we gave them hearty thanks, good reviews online, and bonus tips after the honeymoon.

  8. Thanks for the tip re: decor. We’re just taking over my sister’s house, and I was idly fretting about how to wedding it up, but her place is warm and comfortable – which is one of the reasons we’re taking it over to begin with.

  9. It’s interesting to hear you say that about the buffet servers! I’m sure it really does cut down on food costs, but i went to a wedding a couple weeks ago where they did that and it took SO long to get everybody through! There was a lot of “Would you like mashed potatoes?” “Yes I’d like mashed potatoes.” “Here you go, is that enough?” “No, a little more please.” “Okay, here you go.” Not to mention the fact that people couldn’t go down both sides of the table.

    • A good compromise can be to have a couple of staff for proteins and/or particularly messy items, but let the guests serve themselves the other items. Proteins are usually the most expensive foods on the menu, and the chef will likely have those planned out more carefully according to the number of guests than items like salads, fruits, etc.

    • My sister and I have a catering business. One idea we have to cut down on staff is, we set up stations. We have a salad station, a vegetable station, a meat station etc. guests are free to move from station to station without long lines. We always serve the meats because they’re more expensive, but guests help themselves to the rest of the food…. This seems to go much more smoothly than single line buffets, but it takes a little more space……P.S. Fondant is terrible! I always peel it off and eat the cake only!

  10. I have a friend that regularly works weddings with his family’s catering business and I pick his brain all the time about it. He’s fairly anti-wedding, so his view is a bit skewed to the negative, but in all, he’s given me some good insight to the whole thing. I think he would agree with the cake tips, but he also thinks cake should come before the meal, haha.

    • We’re actually having the cake before dinner! We have a gap of around 3 hours between ceremony and food so need substantial snacks in between. Our celebrant suggested having cake then as well as some savoury snacks. Has anyone been to a wedding where people have done this cause I actually haven’t even though it seems like a good idea

      Great article by the way, esp the stuff about decorations. I have to keep reminding myself that I didn’t know what a centrepiece even was till I started research for my wedding

      • We did this too! We had the ceremony at about 3:30 in the afternoon, then a bit of mingling with cake (we had cupcakes rather than tiered cake), followed by drinks, and dinner was served around 6:30. It worked out perfectly. It also helped my diabetic husband to keep his blood sugar levels stable.

  11. we had most of that bottom layer of our cake left. and we took it home and sat in bed and ate it out of a large salad bowl with spoons (with all the festivities leading up to the day there wasn’t a clean fork in the house!), big serving spoons. man did it hit the spot – for both of us! it’s actually one of the best memories of the whole event and we had a perfect wedding (of course!)

    great advice/observations!

    • That sounds AWESOME – and like an idea I just might have to duplicate.

      I love cake, it’s one of my favorite things to eat. I don’t mean to dissuade anyone from having lots of cake leftover, just figure out what to do with it after the wedding before the wedding because it’s often a cumbersome thing with a short shelf life.

      • I’d consider it a huge success if we could take all the leftovers home after the wedding (from the buffet, as well as the cake). I’m pretty sure cooking for the week after the wedding is gonna be low on my priority list. 🙂

    • One wedding I baked a cake for I actually took the leftover cake and with whip cream, pudding, and fruit made a trifle for a party the day after! Everyone enjoyed both!!

  12. I agree with everything but the cake. We ran out at our wedding due to how it was served (they passed it out and left pieces with every chair, even if the person didn’t want cake…several have bragged about how many pieces they got) and I didn’t get any and neither did my parents. I know it’s a small thing but it really did matter to me that I missed it…and it didn’t help that she went out of business so she couldn’t make us the 1-year anniversary cake we were promised (we had the entire cake served at the wedding). I would recommend extra cake if you love cake but don’t worry about it if it’s not super important to you.

  13. The only reason all of our cake was eaten was bec. it was chocolate with chocolate buttercream frosting (no icky fondant)! I wished I could have gotten a 2nd piece.

  14. I think the tip to have a staffed buffet is a great one. As a guest, I hate waiting in line behind people who are taking too long to get the food on their plate. And I hate wasted food, as well.

  15. The decor thing makes me oh so very happy. We’re having our wedding at a 1930’s art deco hotel, so it’s beautiful by itself. I was worried that someone would make a comment about how I won’t be decorating enough, but this makes me feel better about not.
    Oh how I wish that I didn’t have to have fondant. 1. My cake is a gift from a dear friend (she’s a baker), so I’m letting her decide the elements that she wants to do. I just gave her the flavors and the colors that we’re using. 2. She’s travelling with it from Los Angeles. I’m in Kansas City, Missouri. That’s a long way to travel with a buttercream cake. (She doesn’t have enough time to frost it when she gets here…) She’s promised me that the fondant won’t be bad, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Actually your cake will stay very fresh with fondant. For suCh a long trip the fondant seals and will keep the icing and cake fresh. It taste exactly the same from when she frosted in her kitchen to your cutting at the reception.

  16. Did you work at Housing Works in NYC? That’s where we’re having our wedding.

  17. I’m kind of a compulsive hobby baker, and I’ve baked two weddings cakes–my own, and before that, one for a friend of mine. I was feeling anxious and baked a huge cake for my friend (three tiers, each 7″ tall, one 6″ round, one 8″ round, one 10″ round). I definitely took home the entire bottom tier, and at least half of the middle tier.

    For my own wedding, which had twice as many guests, I used the same pans but only did 4″ tiers. Much better and much less stressful, and we still had cake left over.

    (I also learned the tough lesson when I did my friend’s cake that if you CAN wait and frost it on site, you will not have to swear your head off if you’re trying to transport it in an ordinary car that doesn’t have like a fold-down seat or anything, but also, frosting always takes 500% longer than you think it will and forget “decorating” unless you have a loooooong time at the venue with the cake.)

    Moral of the story: those huge cakes on wedding shows just will not get eaten. This post is 100% correct.

    And no one likes fondant. NO ONE. It is sugar-skin for a cake so you can put pretty things on it, and that is its only benefit.

  18. Yes to the cake thing! My parents were so afraid we wouldn’t have enough cake for my sister’s wedding that they bought two big sheet cakes from Costco to supplement it. They went untouched (until Sunday, when church members got an extra treat after the service), and we took home half of the bottom tier. What can ya do?

  19. I agree about the wedding cake sizing. Our cake is going to be 3 tiers, but two of them will be polstyrene ‘blanks’ with fondant covering to make them look pretty.

    Actually we’re not even going to eat our own cake. My mum is an AMAZING cake decorator, so of course we said yes when she offered to make ours. However she lives interstate, and I knew if she had a short timeframe she would stress herself out too much. She does an amazing fruitcake, so she’s doing one of those and it will keep fresh for months which means she can decorate it in her own time. Almost all of our guests love fruitcake so they’re happy, and we get an amazing looking cake. We’ll cut it before all the speeches, and serve it to everyone in bags after dessert, so everyone can take it home with them.

  20. Fake tiers are definitely the way to go, our cake for 120 people would have been tiny without a fake tier, and even then it looked pretty small, especially because we had ~8m/30ft high vaulted ceiling in a huge industrial space. In the end it was 4 tiers (3 real, one fake) and the largest was 15″. If that was all cake the price would have increased by about 30% and we would have had so much cake left over. Just warn your caterer (we got back the fake tier with a big cut through it, someone must have got a shock when they were cutting it up!).

    The cake vendor sold per person, and had a display of cakes with the number of people they served marked out – even if you plan to DIY your cake, go visit a fancy place with some samples to get info on serving sizes (plus, CAKE SAMPLES!).

    Also, if you buy a small pretty cake and then end up worrying you need more, sheet cake is an awesome backup. Our cake vendor sold decorated cake for ~$3.50pp, and sheet cake for $1pp. Buying stuff at the last minute to avoid freakouts where possible is AMAZING, as much as it could get expensive, hearing ‘you look so relaxed’ and having it be true for the whole week before the wedding was worth every cent. Oh no, it’s a week before the wedding and people with STARVE without cake (clearly not true, but like I was going to believe you on that) – it’s ok, buy $20 worth of relaxation (and cake for 20 people).

  21. My cousin cheaped out on the cake and we all got the skimpiest, skinniest pieces of cake I’ve ever had in my life. If you’re not going to order as much cake as anticipated, then don’t have catering cut and serve each person. Let only those who want cake come up and take a pieces.

  22. Amen to the “Treat them like fellow human beings and they will go to the greatest lengths to make your day awesome.” I set up my contracts by the hour for coverage (videographer)– I warn brides ahead of time that things very rarely go according to the timeline that is set up and to count on things happening a bit later than scheduled. If a family is kind, caring, & awesome, I won’t charge for staying later in order to get all of the shots that they had wanted. However, if the families are control freaks, miserable, and treating us like the hired help and not like human beings, then that extra time spent at your reception will run you $250/hr.
    example: I had the SWEETEST bride earlier this summer. She could only budget for 6 hours of coverage, but because she and her family treated me as if I were one of their guests, I gladly stayed for 8 hours at no additional cost, just because they were so freakin’ awesome. Treat your vendors right & you just might see your dollar stretch a bit farther than you had expected 😉

  23. All the cake guides I have seen (and weddings I have been to, and cakes I have served – in the UK, maybe its different), you cut the biggest tiers first – the bigger tiers give you the bulk of the servings, then if you have smaller tiers left over they are easier to take home (or the top tier to save for the christening/ first anniversary).

  24. Like one of the commenters above, we also ate leftover cake out of a bowl with a spoon in bed in the weeks after the wedding 🙂 I attended two weddings this year where they ran out of cake! The moral of my story: IF you love cake, and the cake is good, there’s never too much cake! (It freezes well 😉 )

  25. People will take the centerpieces? WHY? When you go to someone’s house for dinner, do you look at their flowers and decide to take the vase home with you without asking? NO. Why is this acceptable at a wedding? Thanks for the heads up, but I find it pretty sad that guests have to be told this.

    • I was a MOH in a wedding & had planned an after-party (the ceremony was on Halloween at 10am with an afternoon reception. After-party was that night. In costume. It was fucking fantastic). I had helped make all of the centerpieces & I actually had some guests yell at me when I started to take them off of the tables to bring to the post-reception party. Full-on snapping at me & pawing over the pumpkin & glittery branch things. People are nuts.

    • Mostly because it’s tradition. Keep in mind that it’s a tradition developed from “normal” weddings.

      So imagine a nice, big, “normal” wedding. Lots of guests, lots of flowers. A dozen or more tables with probably two centerpieces each. Bride and groom are leaving halfway through the reception in their “Just Married” limo and the staff/family is breaking down the hall. Buckets of very expensive flowers are getting thrown out. Drunk cousin Tony’s girlfriend LOOOOVED the centerpiece. Is the Father of the Bride (“You want HOW MUCH for those centerpieces?!!!”) going to throw them out or say, “Hey, take three.”

      A lot of that holds true still. If I spent $300 on centerpieces that I have no clue how I’ll reuse, then I’d rather someone else take them and give them a good home. It’s better than throwing them out or carting them back to my house to sit around for six months while I try to make heads and tails out of wedding presents, a honeymoon, and being a newlywed.

    • It’s tradition that people take them, though I would never take one unless told I could. Often the DJ will make a game of it or some sort of announcement. Sometimes it’s the person with the closest birthday, but at a wedding a few years ago it was the person with the oldest car (I have no idea why, but one person at our table has a super old car that is joked about in the family because they can afford a nice car, so it was funny with this family). If you want to keep the centerpieces for resale or if you rented the glassware then I suggest spreading the word informally and also enlisting the help of the waitstaff and wedding party to remove them from the tables at a certain point. If they are rented you should also put a note on the bottom that they are rented and need to be returned, people will understand that.

    • I know this is late, but I just found this site since I just got engaged a few months ago. What I’m hoping for my afternoon wedding is that I can get hydrangeas for centerpieces and people WILL take them home. I get out of favors this way too.
      I got the idea from my godfather’s wedding, since my mom still has the hydrangea she took home from it. Everyone who wants a plant gets a plant and no favors get thrown out. And if not all of them are taken either I or my mom get lots of hydrangeas for the garden. Now to find them at a good price.

  26. I agree with the minimal decorations. Yes, it’s true, in some photos, there will be people in a pretty unadorned space that does not scream “Wedding!” However, it makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere when every nook and cranny is not overflowing with “one more” special touch . And, yes, treat the staff with respect and dignity. Just because it’s “your day” doesn’t mean, despite what Bridezillas tells us otherwise, you can treat people like gum on your shoe.

  27. seems like the Cake Boss always uses buttercream and then puts fondant over it….does every baker not do this?

  28. I would add also, don’t go directly from cocktail hour to announcing the wedding party to dinner. Your guests are still full from apps, and will waste a lot of food. The bridal party should ask the caterers (I am one, too) to hold back a tray or two of apps for them. The best thing, IMO, is to have first dances right after the bridal party is announced, and then maybe 1/2 hour of more dancing before dinner is served.

  29. Three things:

    1. The minimal decor thing is reassuring. I just worry about not being “festive” enough. 😛

    2. I’m a restaurant manager and have been in the food-service industry since I was 18, and we definitely appreciate being treated like people rather than robots designed to execute your every desire with ease and perfection. That being said, your caterers and all vendors know that they’re in the service industry and know that their role is to serve, but just use the Golden Rule, man. Or lady. And by the way, the worst thing that you can ask someone who’s dealing with your food after you’ve raised a fuss is, “You don’t spit in the food, do you?” That’s just mean.

    3. I had to, correction: free cake is never a punishment, GOT TO take a friend’s wedding cake home after her wedding. All hundred guests got a slice, some two, and we ended up with half of a three-tiered cake in our kitchen for almost a week until I passed its remains along to another friend. No one ate the fondant. 🙂

  30. As a former server/event coordinator for a catering company with a very traditional venue…I agree with all of the above!

  31. This is so helpful but I have a question! We have a cake-tasting scheduled and the cake itself is included in our caterging package. I’m guessing the size of the cake we will get is predetermined. We are expecting about 70 guests and I’d really like a small(ish) cake. The catering staff is cutting and serving the cake and wedding cakes are typically cut in very thin slices, leaving a ton of left overs. At every wedding I go to, I see several slices sitting on tables, completely untouched. I’d rather everyone gets the opportunity to have a slice or 2 with very little left over. So my question is, how can I get the baker (who is a preferred vendor of the caterer, rather than the caterer) to understand how much cake we really feel we need?

  32. But what if we WANT that much cake? One of my biggest disappointments in my first wedding (of which there were MANY) was that we listened to advice and got a smaller cake than I wanted. It was so yummy and I wanted to take home more of it. But we didn’t get as much to take home as we wanted since people actually ate it. 🙁

  33. I’ve heard that a million times that no one like fondant, yet I still haven’t met someone who doesn’t. I worked at an Italian bakery and everyone there loves fondant (the bakery of course makes their own, and it’s really good!) my friends and family like Wilton’s ready fondant, and I’ve made it myself before and that came out really tasty too. I’m sure there are tons of people who don’t like it, I just don’t know anyone.

    • Nice to meet you! I’m Beth, and I absolutely despise fondant. To me, it coats my tongue and tastes too much of sugar. Oddly enough, I’ve never met anyone (or “met”, until reading the comments on this post) who DID like fondant!

  34. Being a retired baker and cake decorator the biggest mistake at a reception is that the cake ceremony is last. I always told my bride to have the toast and cake cutting first. The cake can then be cut, plated and ready for dessert after the meal. So many times they wait til after the meal, everyone is full and a lot of people go home, leaving all that cake. This is my biggest tip!!

  35. This is a great post! I have catered a lot of events too, including weddings. People sure are wasteful at buffets… I always hated seeing tons of shrimp cocktail in the trash because someone grabs 10 when they will only eat 3! I agree that fondant is not good, but it sure it pretty. There is usually tons of cake leftover, so I suggest couples get a smaller fancy cake and then have a sheet cake out back to have plenty of cake to serve. That way if there is a ton of cake leftover at least it isn’t $4-5 per slice!

  36. This article really helped! I am doing an outside wedding at a park and we are on a very tight budget and when I say tight I mean we can’t even pay more then $1500 for a wedding so everything we have decided to do is minimal. We decided to do it picnic style and are doing sandwiches and some other things made from a local deli/ sandwich shop. So thank you again for the tips about how you really don’t need as much food as you think you do especially the cake ( even though I love cake and would want a huge one regardless) ; )

  37. need help please??? we are having 140 people at our wedding. we have chosen a cupcake tower, a grooms cake and a one tier cake to cut into, plus we are having a sundae ice cream bar. how many cupcakes should we do? I really don’t want a lot of cake/cupcakes left over. Or is this just to much? should we cut out the tier and grooms cake? The tower top will have a one big cupcake we could cut into.?????

  38. Just wondering about anyone’s experience of when you order catering ‘per head’ – we’re having bacon/ veggie sausage sandwiches & chips (fries if you’re in the US!) as our evening menu. 170 guests have RSVPed as attending. Should I order exactly 170, or round the number up slightly incase someone goes up for 2 plates before another guest gets their 1st plate?
    Asked the venue and they said they couldn’t advise as it really depends on the type of people we’ve invited! Which I can appreciate, but I would have thought they could advise based on previous experience. We don’t want to run out of food, but equally don’t want to end up throwing food away that we’ve footed the bill for.
    Any advice appreciated! X

  39. I ran out of cake at my wedding because my new sister in law and my friend in charge of cutting were cutting SLABS of cake from the center out on a 15″ diameter cake. They were too big to fit onto the plates. I didn’t even get any cake until the next morning when we shared our top tier with my family while opening gifts. Moral of the story, make sure your cake cutters know what they’re doing! 🙂

  40. GREAT post! Thank you! Although I really do hope no one takes my centrepieces – I’m using my own belongings from home. Might have to make a note of that then.

  41. Thanks for posting this. I like reading someone’s experience from a story standpoint, comes across better.

  42. Another cake decorator here: i make unconventional wedding cakes with alot of detail and highly sculptural elements and i have a tip! Please check with your caterers/venue that they are cutting your cake up and they know how. Seems silly but so many times i’ve been to weddings or heard back from brides that their cake was cut into a mess or they had no one to cut it so a guest stood there and cut it up. We are always happy to inform at the delivery how the cake is structured but if there’s no one there to tell then it’s no wonder the venue were a bit confused as to what to do with it!
    I once ‘crashed’ a wedding, the couple were so lovely and happy with me making their cake that they invited me to their small but epic Offbeat wedding in London. I turned up with the cake and found out the venue were not cutting the cake as they weren’t informed and had no kitchen to do so, so i stayed and stood their with the bride in her white dress as we cut up the cake with a basic cutlery knife piece by piece and gave it out to people as they asked for flavours, like an icecream shop! We even made sure a good chunk of each flavour was saved for the bride and groom. It was good fun but they were lucky, they could have ended up with a random family member hacking away at it and turning it to crumb.

    Ps, some people LOVE fondant, but even if they don’t it’s necessary for certain designs.

  43. Haha, I love that you said no one likes fondant… it’s so true. It’s beautiful and can make awesome looking cakes, but tastes a bit like sweet soap. I think when you’re looking for a caterer, make sure you find one that is very receptive to listening to your ideas; I went to one and felt like they just weren’t understanding what I was looking for, so I decided to go to another caterer, Sally Tomatoes, and I’m so glad I did! I guess long story short, talk with your caterer for a bit and make sure they understand your needs.

  44. Our wedding and reception cost about $2500 total. We were able to use the Masonic Lodge my husband belonged to at no charge. My husband and his Lodge members already had tuxes so we saved rental charges. We decided to have sandwiches, chips, and a veggie tray and dip. We splurged on the cake as that was important for us…it was so good it was all gone before we left. My gown came from a clearance rack at Penney’s. We ordered three music CD’s from a website that had samples of the songs we could select (one of our favorite wedding memories). Bridesmaids were told they could wear a dress of their choice in pink or purple. We ordered fresh flowers bouquets to flank the altar, corsages, and boutonnieres. These were ordered from a co-worker of mine husband. I made the bouquets for myself and my attendants.

    I purchased some of the disposable wedding cameras. I don’t recommend these. Our experience was the teenagers in the reception “hijacked” the cameras and only a very few photos were usable. Fortunately, my stepdaughter’s date for the wedding was a professional photographer. He gave us a complete set of prints and also put them on a website so our guests could print off the ones I wanted.

    We loved how our special day turned out and received many compliments from our guests.

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