Category Archives: Catering

Party Is On

Wine has been served in weddings since time in memorial but how do you know when to serve what?

Here are some aspects to consider when selecting the wine for your wedding reception. Matching wine with food is almost impossible so in this case opt for a light, well balanced and easy to drink wine both as red and white. For a more formal and plated meal, ask the advice of your caterer or your wine supplier and simply try the wines with some of the food yourself!

You’re Guests

What kind of wine do they like? How about your friends and family? Do they prefer red, white, rose, sparkling, or a dessert wine? Would your guests enjoy one or two really nice glasses of wine to sip as they socialize? Or is wine not that important to your guests?

Generally in Kenya, we have a sweeter taste for wines; so wines with a fruity and not too dry taste are normally a safe choice.

Time of day

Are you having a lunch or evening reception? People prefer to drink less at an afternoon wedding than an evening affair and they also prefer lighter wine. A good alternative for a lunch reception could be a nicely chilled rose wine. Some of the wines to look out for are South African wines. For an evening reception a choice of white wine and red wine is nearly a must.


If you intend to pair wine with food, you may want to ask yourself, are you having a buffet menu or a sit down and more formal lunch? A buffet offers several choices of food hence matching wine with the food is almost impossible. In this case opt for a light, well balanced and easy to drink wine both as red and white. For a more formal and plated meal, ask the advice of your caterer or your wine supplier and simply try the wines with some of the food yourself.

What’s your budget?

Most of us do not have an unlimited budget to spend on wine, and looking at cost is inevitable. So several options are available to you:

Ask for a wine package: generally for lunch, quantities of wine required can be calculated by 2 glasses of wine per person, sp approx ¼ ltr per person. If you have 100 guests you will need 25 bottles of wine. For a plated dinner, one should count at least 1 bottle of white wine 75cl for 4 people and 1 bottle of red wine 75cl for 3 people. These proportions can be reduced or increased depending on your type of guests as well as the drink selection you will offer.

For a drinks reception, count a maximum of 1 glass of wine per person especially if other drinks like beer, juices and soft drinks are also be available, if you ask for a maximum number of bottles, then you might want to consider a cash bar.

If the caterer or the hotel allows it, look into bringing your own wine bought from your reliable supplier, though be ready to pay for corkage (a charge paid per bottle up to kshs1000).

Discuss with your supplier to have your wines on sale and return basis, this means that if not all the wine is drunk, you will be able to return the unopened bottles to your supplier only make sure that the labels are not damaged.

By Phillipe Cauviere

Director-WWW Bar and Shop Ltd


Liquor / Beverages

There is usually price latitude with beverages and liquor, depending on the amount of alcohol served.

Options: Sodas and fruit punch are popular non- alcoholic beverages served at receptions. While white, red wines and beer are the most popular alcoholic beverages, you may also serve scotch, vodka, gin, rum, and of course, don’t forget coffee or tea.

Things to consider: If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages at a reception site that does not provide alcohol, make sure your caterer has a liquor license to serve alcohol and that your reception site allows consumption of alcoholic beverages.

In selecting the type of alcohol to serve, consider the age and preference of your guests, the type of food that will be served, (most receptions last three hours) and the time of day your guests will be drinking. Never serve liquor without some type of food, allow 1 drink serving per person per hour on the average. A bottle of wine, (most come in 750ml) will serve six glasses. Plan for an average limit of at least 3 glasses of wine per person. This means for instance, that you will need 4 bottles of wine (preferably 2 of white and 2 of red) per table for an 8- person table.

If you intend to serve cask wines, you will need an average of 8 casks of 5litres each to serve an average 100 people. For the spirits- one 750ml bottle can serve up to 25 tots. Assuming that each guest will have 2 tots per serving per hour, you will need 8 tots per person translating to a bottle per 3 people If you are hosting an open bar at a hotel or restaurant, ask the catering manager how they charge for liquor: by consumption or by number of bottles opened. Get this in writing before the event and then ask for a full consumption report after the event. It is also helpful to have a person you trust behind the bar to ensure it truly is your party that consumes all the liquor.

Beware: Ensure you put in place adequate security, as the host of a party is held legally responsible for the conduct and safety of their guests. Therefore keep this in mind when planning the quantity and type
of beverages to serve. Remind your bartenders not to serve alcohol to minors.

Tips To Save Money:

  • To keep beverage costs down, serve punch, wine, or non-alcoholic drinks only.
  • If your venue or caterer allows it, consider buying liquor from a wholesaler.
  • Avoid salty foods such as potato chips; these foods will make your guests thirstier so they will tend to drink more.
  • Host alcoholic beverages for the first hour, then go to a cash bar. Or host beer, wine, and soft drinks only and have mixed drinks available on a cash basis.
  • Cask wines are less expensive than serving bottled wine.
  • Corkage fee can be waived if you meet the minimum requirements on beverages consumed.
  • For the toast, serve champagne only on the high tables. Many people will make a toast with whatever they are currently drinking.
  • Consider serving sparkling wine in place of champagne.
  • Avoid waiters and waitresses. Instead, have an open bar in which your guests have to get their own drinks. People tend to drink almost twice as much if there are waiters and waitresses constantly asking them if they would like another drink and then topping up their drinks.

Corkage Fee
Many reception sites and caterers make money by marking up the food and alcohol they sell.

You may wish to provide your own alcohol for several reasons. First, it is more cost effective. Second, you may want to serve an exotic wine or drink that the reception site or caterer does not offer. In either case, if your reception site or caterer allows it, be prepared to pay a corkage fee. This is the fee for each bottle brought into the reception and opened by a member of their staff.

Things To Consider: You need to consider whether the expenses saved after paying the corkage fee justify the hassle of bringing in your own alcohol.

Alcoholic beverages are the most expensive. There are a number of options and variations for serving alcoholic beverages:

  • A full open bar where you pay for your guests to drink as much as they wish
  • An open bar for the first hour, followed by a cash bar where guests pay for their own drinks
  • Cash bar only
  • Beer and wine only

Non- alcoholic beverages only; or nay combination there of

Beverages Amount based on 100 guests
Gin 33 bottles (750ml)
Rum 33 bottles (750ml)
Scotch 33 bottles (750ml)
Vodka 33 bottles (750ml)
White wine 50 bottles (750ml)
Red wine 50 bottles (750ml)
Cask wine 8 casks each 5 liters
Champagne 20 bottles (for just tossing)
Other 2 cases each; tonic water, Ginger ale, cola, beer

Menu Selection

Chicken and beef are the most popular selections for a large event although there are many main dishes to choose from. Ask your caterer for their specialty.

If you have a special type of food you would like to serve at your reception, select a caterer who specializes in preparing it.

Things to consider: Assign someone to work with the caterer especially on the Dday to ensure everything is done according to your wishes.

Caterers have various ways in which they compute for the charges. Most base their costs per head count. You will be asked to pay a deposit of which the remaining money is likely to be due just weeks before the event. Some caterers will ask for 90 percent when you confirm the final head count.

Tips to save money: Depending on how certain you are on the number of your guest that are likely to show up, give just 85 to 95 percent of your final guest count to your caterer. This way if all your guests do come, your caterer should have enough food for all of them and at the same time if some do not show up, you will
not have to pay for so many unused plates. If you give a complete count of your guests to the caterer and some guests do not show up, you will still have to pay for their plates. This is especially true with sit in receptions, in which case the facility or caterer will charge extra for each additional guest.

To regulate the amount of food consumed in a buffet meal style, have the catering staff serve the food onto guests’ plates rather than allowing guests to serve them. Select food that is not too time-consuming to prepare, or food that does not have expensive ingredients.

Working with your caterer

If your reception is going to be in a venue that provides food e.g. a hotel or restaurant, all you will need to do is select a meal to serve your guests from a predetermined menu. You can also customize your own menu should you want to. Incase your reception is going to be in a venue that does not provide food, you will need to hire an outside caterer who will be responsible for preparing, cooking, and serving the food and cleaning up after the event.

The caterer can also be responsible for beverages but this is entirely up to you. Book your caterer in advance especially if your wedding is going to be in the busy season. Ask to see the caterers portfolio including pictures of previous work so that you see how the caterer presents their work, ask for references and be sure to counter check on them or better still visit an event they are catering. Make sure your caterer is fully self-supported with catering equipment. A competent caterer will prepare much of the food in his/her own kitchen and should provide an adequate staff of cooks, servers and bartenders.

Before signing a contract, make sure you are clear on all the services the caterer will provide. Your contract should clearly state the amount and type of food and beverages that will be served, the way in which they will be served, the number of servers who will be available, the cost per item or person, and the rental items the caterer will provide such as tables, chairs and tableware.