UPDATED JAN 2023
Congratulations! Whether you are just starting your life together, you are already raising a family and decided to make it official, or you are starting again, you are getting married and every marriage is worth planning perfectly, starting with your dream wedding! One person's dream wedding will always be different to the next because we are all different. We have different tastes, different priorities, different budgets and different sized guest lists, so that is why each and every wedding deserves to be planned individually. There is no one size fits all and with Bay Tree Foods, you decide on EVERYTHING.
A wedding is a huge expense, with so many pulls on your budget, so my prices are the same for all occasions. I don't believe in charging a premium just because it's a wedding.
With 30 years of industry experience, I am here to answer, advise and make suggestions, but I will never tell you what you must do. Suggestions are always backed up with personal experiences and reasons for those suggestions - none of these reasons will be for my financial gain. If you don't need something I will tell you.
So how does the process work with Bay Tree Foods wedding catering? From your initial enquiry, I will ask for your date first. There is no point providing you with a quote if I am not available, so I will always offer suggestions of other caterers if I am already booked. I will also ask for the venue / location to make sure it is within my area ( 1 hour of Arlington, East Sussex). I can travel further with discussion, but travel costs and extra staffing costs may be applied.
After initial contact, I will ask if you want to talk via email or telephone to discuss your initial thoughts. Most couples tend to prefer email as they can refer back to what has been discussed and I will start a file with all communication bespoke to you. I will begin discussions by asking you what your catering requirements are - some have it all planned in advance and others have no idea where to start. Don't feel you have to have a plan. I will ask you questions about you, your likes and dislikes, the demographic of your guests, the amount of guests, whether you have any special memories to be relayed in the menu and so on. This will lead me to make suggestions about the styles of catering that may fit you best.
The range of options is vast and includes barbecues, tea parties, hot and cold fork buffets, picnics, grazing tables and sit down meals served sharing style. Due to the relaxed style of my offering, I tend not to offer formal plated wedding breakfasts any more because they are the least requested option from my couples - it doesn't mean I won't do it though! I will offer whatever is best for your budget. Other caterers specialise in a more formal, high end approach and I am happy to refer you should this be your preferred option.
Once we have an idea of the style of food you'd like, from canapés to the evening food, I will offer you an initial quote. This quote will be for the food only. Some menus include full staffing and others don't and this will be discussed. For example, canapés can be laid out with the reception drinks, or they can be handed around to your guests over a period of time. The only other costs will be for the hire of any equipment you may need from table settings / furniture to kitchen equipment, especially if you are getting married in a barn or a field! I organise all this for you after agreeing on exactly what you'd like. All this equipment is delivered to the venue and collected afterwards with no need to wash anything up!
If you decide to accept my quote and hire Bay Tree Foods to provide your wedding catering then I do a little happy dance! I will send you a booking form with my terms and conditions and ask for 30% of the initial food quote. This confirms your booking and I am all yours. Once booked, your deposit entitles you to two planning meetings - one at the venue (especially if it is a new venue to me) and one at my kitchen where you can enjoy a taster of your food choices.
Venue meeting - here we work through your day to make sure that your plans will work in the space provided and whether we need to create any more space with marquees. For example, when spacing the tables, allow for the chairs to be out and sat in AND for people to be able to walk in between. If I am already familiar with the venue I can use previous weddings as examples. If not, I draw on my knowledge and experience to foresee any issues that may arise.
Tasting meeting - I invite you to come and try a sample of the food you have chosen in the dining room at my commercial kitchen so you can decide if you have made the right choices. It also gives you a chance to see where your food is produced and to prove that I can cook! Whilst you are working through the food, we will discuss the finer details of the day, most importantly, timings. I always use the same format when discussing timings. We start at both ends of the day (arrival times and the time you need to be out of the venue) and then work towards the middle, positioning food service around welcome drinks, entertainment, speeches, etc. This brainstorming enables us all to know exactly how the day will play out so you don't have to worry about anything. I will also ask for my 'go to' person so I don't have to bother you with any issues on the day. This is often a groomsman, bridesmaid or parent.
Lastly, if you don't like an aspect of the food, or you want to change something, then tell me. That's what the day is all about. You need to know that you are looking forward to eating that food again and that your guests will enjoy it too. Food at a wedding is a massive ice breaker when conversation is struggling at the table and it is often the topic of conversation throughout the rest of the day. If it is good, it will be talked about and if it is bad it will be talked about. I want the food to be talked about for a long time, but for the right reasons! A lot of my work is thanks to recommendations so it is so important to me that you are happy.
Evening food - making sure your guests don't get hungry as the evening wears on and the drink is flowing is important. If you have a had a large meal already then all you need are snacks, such as a finger buffet, hot baps, a nachos bar or cheese! If you have had something light in the day such as a tea party then you may feel you need something more substantial at night such as a grazing table or bbq. I usually suggest catering for 80% of guests in the evening to avoid waste, but if you have large appetites coming then you are welcome to order more. Again, if you don't want it, I won't insist - it's your day.
Other things discussed at these meetings will include asking you if you want any other services such as providing welcome drinks, canapes, a hot drinks station, bar services or room turnarounds.
I have companies that I work with, and refer to, offering a range of options including personalised bar frontages. I can also recommend a full range of other wedding professionals from cake makers to photographers and videographers. I only recommend those that I know on a personal level, having worked with them and seen / tried their product. I make sure that they are as fabulous as the service they are providing - no egos here!
Everything discussed at these meetings is sent to you in an email so you can take your time to absorb everything and change anything. Nothing is set in stone until 4 weeks (ish!) before the big day. Then I ask for your final numbers and changes and I will send my final invoice, covering the rest of the food, any equipment hire charges and any extra staff costs if you have asked for extra services.
At all times from that first contact until the big day and beyond, I am available to answer questions, however trivial they may seem to you. This is your big day and it must be done your way. Weddings are breaking away from tradition more every year and couples are coming up with innovative and alternative ideas, focusing on a more casual, family friendly approach than the more formal, sit down wedding breakfast, worrying about which fork to use next! At Bay Tree Foods, our focus is casual, wholesome and satisfying - no one goes hungry!
I hope that this has given you an insight into wedding catering by Bay Tree Foods and you can feel confident that we can create and provide an excellent, experienced and knowledgeable service to help make your day the best it can be. More information, along with menu ideas and price guides can be found at www.baytreefoods.co.uk and my news feed at facebook.com/baytreefoods gives regular updates on what we are doing. Thank you for showing an interest in Bay Tree Foods and happy planning!