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16 Essential Catering Terms To Know When Booking Your Wedding Catering

24th April 2014
Wedding Catering Canapés at Senate House

There's a reason that no one has ever likened planning a wedding to a picnic; It's because, well, it isn’t. And planning the wedding catering can be the most challenging part of it all. The world of catering for weddings calls for sophisticated, succulent, industry-infused jargon that can leave you feeling slightly unsure whether you’ve ordered everything in miniature or a 3-course meal. 

The Wedding Catering Terms to Know

So, to dispel some of the aromatic smoke around wedding catering terminology, we’ve pulled together 16 essential catering terms you’ll need to know to organise (and fully understand) the perfect culinary delights on your big day. From the well known terms to the not so well known, you’ll have no excuse but to be on the ball when it comes to planning your wedding catering.

Senate House Wedding Catering Canapés

1. Front-of-house. Waiters, bar staff, reception staff and event-coordinators; anything that you and your guests can see happening around you count as ‘front of house’. These are the people responsible for organising the smooth running of the wedding catering, and making sure you’re well looked after.

2. Back-of-house. Chefs, sous chefs and porters; the people behind the scenes working to prepare and arrange the food you and your guests will be eating. You might say these are the most important people when it comes to catering for your wedding.   

3. Canapés. Everything in miniature. These are the dainty little bites you’ll see floating about the room or arranged elegantly across the tables. Very common at catered functions, they seep sophistication and are perfect for keeping people fuelled but not bloated. Wedding blogger lovemydress.com has some great ideas on how to reinvent the canapé. 

Wedding Catering Canapés at Senate House

4. Bowl Foods. Small bowls of deliciousness that guests can cherish without sharing, these are small enough to keep your guests light enough to dance, but offer a heartier alternative to canapés. Also known as mini meals, they can be passed out to guests without them having to be seated.

5. Out mess meals. These are the meals you choose to offer your staff on the day. This might be for your photographer, your catering staff or anyone else involved in the day and isn’t a guest! It’s an extra expense you may or may not want to consider. Some companies will highlight if they require out mess in their contract.

6. Refreshments. It might sound simple, but refreshments are an added catering expense that you can decide to include in your budget or not. Keep your guests going throughout the day with a choice of soft beverages; Coffee, juice, water, tea - anything that will keep your guests hydrated and not hiccupping.

7. Napery. Also known as the linen or table decorations, this describes the decoration of the tables from which you & your guests will be eating.

8. F&B.  This is the abbreviated form of ‘Food & Beverage’ which you might find caterers refer to in documents or general conversation. 

Canapés at Senate House | Wedding Catering

9. A la Carte. Not an uncommon term in the world of fancy catering, A la Carte means ‘from the menu’ in French and describes ordering a main with no sides. So if you’re paying A la Carte, you’ll be paying for each part of the meal separately.

10. Fork Buffet. Anything you can eat with a fork in buffet form, hot or cold. Options can range from fishcakes and Thai green curry to cold meat and quiche! As long as forks are involved, you’ll have no problem getting stuck in.

11. Finger Food.  An option that doesn’t require cutlery in any form, meaning guests can be pardoned from rudeness and get stuck in fingers over thumbs.

12. A la Mode. Another well used catering phrase, A La Mode describes a desert ‘served with ice cream’.

13. Drinks reception snacks. You’ll want something to soak up the early consumption of champagne at the drink reception, so snacks like posh crisps, nuts, olives & exotically flavoured popcorn are popular choices to compliment and balance out the early celebratory tipple.

14. Platters. Platters can vary massively and are used to present any buffet form of food decoratively. You can ask your wedding catering company to be quite imaginative with the presentation of these platters, even using props to have them fit in with your theme.

Props and Decorations | Wedding Catering at Senate House

15. Props. The decorative aspect of your wedding catering. If you’re chasing a certain theme or ambience, these are the things that will help convey this and serve only an aesthetic purpose.

16. Cutlery/Flatware/Silverware/Tableware. There are many different names for knifes and forks. In the UK, we’re more inclined to use the word ‘cutlery’, but you may find that flatware, silverware and tableware get used as alternatives. These are also arranged on the table to reflect the requirements of your chosen meal. 

Married Couple At Senate House

Wedding Catering London

Planning a large-scale catering event can be daunting, especially when it comes to one of the most important days of your life. It’s important to be equipped with the knowledge that could save you from purchasing billable extras and things you don’t need or want. It can also help you craft the perfect catering experience for your wedding.

At Senate House London we offer a wedding catering menu to delight you and your guests with a range of choices to suit any taste. Coupled with the Art Deco architecture of the grand Senate House, it’s the perfect location for a London wedding.

Find out more about our London events and wedding catering service and see how our wedding packages can help make your wedding perfect. 

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