“What catering to choose?” Probably the hardest question you’ll ever have to answer. Even harder, you also have to answer for the 100 other people coming to your event too. And let’s not get started on keeping the alcohol supply flowing!
Catering for your event can be one of the most daunting tasks faced when planning your event but, just know, Poptop are here with you every step of the way. Use this guide for all things drinks and catering – whether it be cuisine choices or how to hire a bar service for your event, we’ve got it all covered.
Searching for the catering options available to you online can be overwhelming at times, with pages of different websites and offers. But look no further, here at Poptop we have them all in one place for you – what a relief, right?
Keep on reading to find out how to decide on your caterers, how to book them and the do’s and don’ts of what to do throughout it all.
Congratulations! You’ve just got engaged! You’re turning 40! It’s your niece’s Quinceañera! Whatever it is that you’re celebrating, we’re here celebrating with you. And where the food is concerned, we want you to get it just right.
Let us guide you through the entire process from choosing caterers to securing a menu and making a booking. But before any of that can be done, you need to decide on what kind of catering and food you’d like to have at your event.
Unless you already have a clear vision of exactly how you’re event should look, you’d be surprised at the sheer choice available to serve amazing food for your celebrations!
Before you can request any quotes you need to decide on the type of catering you’d like.
1. Three-Course Sit Down Meals
A sit-down meal can be an ideal option for many events, but there is a lot to consider. Each element of the meal will affect the overall price in some way and so this must be taken into consideration when thinking about your budget. These are our popular options when clients book a sit-down service for their catering through Poptop:
- 3 course with canapes
- 3 courses
- 2 courses
- 1 course
Planning a smaller, more intimate event? Have you ever considered hiring a private chef? This option is growing in popularity and is great to add some pizzazz to your next night in.
☝🏼Take into account the possibility of needing to hire waiting staff as well as the time needed to collect menu choices from your guests.
2. Buffet Catering
So many of our clients go with a buffet for their events and you may want to as well. The self-service design is ideal to allow for some variation with the food choice and to cut out excessive waiting staff for events with large guest amounts.
☝🏼Did you know, some of our suppliers offer a cold buffet service for as little as £3.50 per head!
Buffets can be a great catering choice for both indoor and outdoor events, especially weddings, and generally, tend to come under two categories:
hot or cold.
☝🏼At this stage, you may require servers to be included in the package. Most suppliers will go through and include the necessary extras e.g servers, crockery, cutlery etc. But it is always worth checking exactly what is included.
3. Hog Roast & BBQ Catering
One of the latest trends within events catering has been to hire street food stalls or food vans to come and serve to your guests from their stand or vehicle. The most popular ‘street food’ suppliers we work with supply: Hog roast & BBQ.
The effect of having a professional hog roast company brings a whole or small pig spit to your event will not only wow your guests, but taste amazing too! Our hog roast suppliers can take care of everything from the cooking, to the accompanying rolls and condiments, to clearing up and packing away! We have seen one of these inclusive hog roast packages for as low as £6 per head on Poptop!
Similarly, a BBQ is a fabulous way to feed your hungry guests and can provide some great variety within the menu options. Perfect for an outdoor event, BBQ catering will add sizzle to your day.
☝🏼A lot of our meat suppliers can provide vegetarian and vegan options too, so no one will be left out.
4. Food Vans
As well as having a stand to come and set up to serve your guests, a food van proves to be an ever-growing popular event choice, particularly for wedding evening receptions.
Although our food van suppliers range from Lebanese to Chinese, our most popular types are the old favourites: Fish & Chips, Pizza, Burgers. It’s a slightly more casual approach to event catering, but everyone loves it!
☝🏼 It’s good to keep in mind where exactly your food is going to be served. Indoors or outdoors, the supplier will need to know what they’re working with to provide your food and make everything as smooth as possible on the day.
5. International Cuisine
Haven’t seen anything that you fancy? Remember as well as everything mentioned here, different styles of cuisine from around the world are available within each category e.g
- A Lebanese food truck
- A Caribbean style BBQ
- An Indian style sit down meal
- An Italian themed buffet
- Mexican street food
6. Desserts and extras
What if you’ve made it this far but don’t actually want full catering at your wedding? Don’t worry! We saved the best until last in presenting to you or ‘other’ catering options.
These options include:
- A Chocolate Fountain – often kitted out with huge amounts of toppings, your guests will love this special extra!
- Popcorn – a fun favourite for all! Available fully staffed from our suppliers!
- Sweet Cart – a beautiful way to display treats for your guests and can tie in fabulously with a vintage theme!
- Candyfloss – a sweet treat which we have known a supplier to have over 100 flavours of!
- Donut wall – this statement piece is growing in popularity with our users – and who can blame them? If you feel your event is missing something, chances are that something is a 10-foot donut wall!
- Ice Cream bikes – gone are the days of the 99p Mr Whippy from the ice cream van. Ice cream bikes have become an increasingly popular choice for small, intimate events as well as weddings. The 1920’s vintage style ‘icycles’ are aesthetically pleasing and extremely mobile.
- Crepes and waffles – these little french delights are the perfect addition to any event!
- Alcohol-infused desserts – a brand new way to enjoy your dessert that we’re loving at the moment. Gin and tonic cupcakes? Sign us up!
Now that your stomach is lined – you’ll need something to wash it down with! Explore our Bar and Alcohol options next!
It’s time for a tipple
We know our clients very well, and out of those organising adult attending events – bar hire is a must. Of course, here at Poptop, we work with some fabulous alcohol and bar suppliers to give you exactly what you need. Still not sure exactly what that is? Take a look…
The majority of our catering suppliers don’t offer ‘table drinks’ in their packages. This would include toasting drinks or wine to serve guests throughout the meal – although it can be discussed as an option.
As well as hiring a bar company to serve general drinks to your guests they can also provide options to accommodate to your ‘table drink’ needs.
For around £30 – £50 per head, our bar suppliers can offer at least 2 glasses of wine or prosecco to be served to your guests when toasting or during the meal. Alternatively, this can sometimes be sold on a bottle basis, for example, half a bottle of wine per guest or 3 bottles per table.
☝🏼Check your venues requirements when booking a caterer or alcohol!
Full Bar Hire
If you’re looking for a full bar hire – which means booking a bar that can provide drinks for all your guests for the duration of your event – this is normally done through a refundable deposit.
Bar companies don’t expect you to pay for all the drinks in advance so when booking for full bar hire, a deposit (usually between £100 and £300 is requested and then returned to you on the day of your event. Our suppliers will attend the event, set up the bar, serve all the guests, clean up AND supply the license needed to serve alcohol. As it is the supplier that will charge your guests for the drinks, and the deposit is refundable, this is essentially a FREE service for you to book.
Dry Bar Hire
Dry bar hire does what it says on the tin. If you already have the alcohol you’d like to serve to your guests but nothing more, this option allows you to hire all the necessities; bar staff, mixologists, glassware and an actual bar to serve from.
Bar or Box?
A recent trend amongst our suppliers has been to incorporate their bar service into a trailer van/horsebox vehicle. The overall effect can be rather impressive and so many of our client opt for this option – especially for events being held outside.
Maybe you don’t need any drinks to accompany your catering because the drinks are the main event! You can book ‘cocktail party’ packages through some of our suppliers to give you and your group an amazing night – at a fixed price.
An example of this kind of package might include a mixologist, glassware, a cocktail station and four cocktails each for only £30 per head, with unlimited drinks options available too!
Another great way to celebrate your event is to book a cocktail making session. This option has proved to be particularly popular with our hen party groups and the prices vary between suppliers from around £20 to £50 per head.
Themed cocktail classes are a speciality of some of our suppliers, our most popular being Harry Potter!
The options are ALMOST limitless, but now that we’ve shown them to you – what are you waiting for? Find out how to request quotes for your chosen catering type.
Top Tips on How To Book A Catering Company For Your Event
Booking a catering company can be more complicated than booking other suppliers. Why? Imagine you’re planning a wedding with 100 guests that include Uncle Barry who is diabetic, the twins, Steve and Steph who are lactose intolerant and most of the groom’s family who has just gone vegan! There’s a lot of detail to go through and our help ensures you can successfully and efficiently book a fantastic catering company for your event.
1. Send a detailed brief to the suppliers
Due to the amount of detail included in a catering brief, it can’t always be captured in the initial Q & A when you make your request. This is why it’s best to send a brief summary of your needs to each supplier, in order to receive replies that cater more specifically to your needs.
❌Hi, looking for catering for 100 people for a wedding.
✅ Hello! We’re looking for a caterer for our Wedding Anniversary Party. There will be 50 guests and we require a sit down three-course meal. 4 guests are vegetarian and 5 are children who will require a separate menu.
2. Work On Your Budget
Catering is an important part of any event and you want to get it right. We work with so many suppliers, that we can provide a wide range of prices to fit your budget. But it does help if you have a price in mind that you’d like to spend when you make your request. This could be an on a price per head basis or a total amount.
✅ “I’m looking to spend around £30 pounds per head, and wish to include a canape, starter, main course and dessert.”
✅ “I have 80 guests and require a cold buffet of sandwiches and snacks. How much would this be in total?”
4. Confirm The Booking To Discuss Further
Confirming the booking is the preliminary way to release the contact details of the supplier, thereby opening up lines of communication to gather further info from them. You might want to arrange a tasting or receive PDF documents from their email and this is the way to do it. The booking is not finalised until a deposit is paid, so just keep your concierge updated on how you’d like to proceed once finer details have been discussed.
5. If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get
Ultimately this is your event, so if you have any menu ideas or you would like to arrange a tasting before deciding on a meal choice, then ask if it’s possible. There might be a showcase coming up that you could attend to see some samples. Ask them
6. We’re At Your Service
Use your concierge as much as you can. Confused about a quote? Not sure how to proceed with the booking? Can’t get in touch with the supplier? Call us! Email us! We’re here to help.
Follow these tips to eat your way to a successful event!
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Event Expert & Head of Client Experience
A Kick-ass girl boss who loves weddings and chocolate.