To view more expert advice on a different topic, please select one from the list below.
Food, glorious food
Q. Several of our guests have dietary requirements, when should I tell our caterer?
A. Alexandra Barlow says: My daughter and I started growing fruit and veg during lockdown, which I then used to make jams and chutneys. These became very popular in my local community, so I started offering grazing boxes which included afternoon teas and cheese boards. This then led me to where I am today catering for wonderful events and weddings.
As a small business that caters for large events, it's extremely important to ask at the point of the order if there are any allergens or dietary requirement as using an item that someone has intolerances or allergies to could cost them their life or cause extremely complicated health implications. Ask your guests at your earliest convenience about any allergies/dietary requirements so you can pass them on to your cater to ensure they can accommodate any special requests.
Alexandra Barlow, Graze with Roots
Q. Most of our guests have dietary requirements. How can we cater for everyone?
A. Libbi Coldicott says: A grazing table is a great way to cater for everyone as it can be split into different sections to cater for various dietary requirements. Most grazing tables we create at Cranberry & Thyme have vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian and meat sections all on one table, with fresh fruit and raw vegetables, olives and dips to accommodate all needs without people feeling left out or having to bring their own food. For those with specific allergies, ask your supplier to create a separate platter just for them.
Libbi Coldicott, Cranberry & Thyme
Food for thought
Q. We're looking for the perfect caterer, what should we be aware of before committing?
A. Libbi Coldicott says: To ensure your catering is perfect, start by checking that your supplier can provide what you want. Schedule a call or video chat before booking to get a feel for what it will be like working together.
Don't be afraid to ask for examples or photos of their work. Check that they can cater for dietary requirements, provide serving staff and the timeframe they need to serve your guests as there's nothing worse than some tables eating dessert while others haven't received their starters.
Make sure they have the relevant food safety certificates and insurance, and always read the terms and conditions before you pay any money.
Discuss what would happen if you needed to change the number of guests, any dietary requirements or if you need to postpone/cancel for any reason. Make a note in your calendar of the deadline for changes and when the balance needs to be paid. If anything changes, give your supplier plenty of notice.
Libbi Coldicott, Cranberry & Thyme
Drink it all in
Q. We want to hire a horsebox bar for our upcoming wedding and would love to incorporate the time of year into our drinks. Do you have any suggestions?
A. Christianne Hemming says: Christmas is the most amazing time to get creative, and it's our favourite time of the year. It's simple to evoke all the senses with a festive-inspired drinks menu. Why not start with a delicious mulled wine or hot spiced apple juice as your welcome drinks? Not only will this warm your guests, but it smells amazing.
If you're looking for an alcoholic drink, one of our favourites is our Christmas FizzGINgle Cocktail, which is a generous measure of winterberry gin, topped up with prosecco and a sprinkling of fresh berries. Other options include a salted caramel espresso martini or even a white hot chocolate with a white chocolate liqueur to finish off the evening.
Christianne Hemming, China Grey