302- Winning Wedding Catering

by Aleisha

Food and what catering to choose can be big decisions when it comes to planning your wedding.
Sometimes these decisions are attached to your chosen venue, but there are also many other situations where couples are given free reign over deciding what type of food to serve at their wedding celebrations and went to serve it.
Today’s guest is Sarah Hall, The President of Joel Catering; they go to cater in New Orleans for fine dining catering. They host upwards of 600 events per year and countless weddings, and on the show today she will share her insights into navigating your culinary tastes balanced with special diets picky eaters kids and all the intricacies of planning a meal for your nearest and dearest.

Listen to episode 302 of Bridechilla

Want Your Catering To Go Off Script?

Here’s what to expect and what not to ask

In a recent interview, Sarah Hall, president of Joel Catering and Special Events in New Orleans shared her advice for working with your caterer for maximum ease and minimum headache.

We’re here to help…


We’ve all been to a lot of weddings. When it comes to your own, it’s personal and you want your guests to feel that. First rule of wedding food: talk to your caterer early and often. As a catering company, when someone approaches us early with creative ideas, we love it! It is a collaboration though, so start the conversation with all your crazy ideas and let us work on ways to make that a reality. We had a couple that wanted to make cocktails a fun, interactive experience, so instead of just developing a list of signature cocktails, we created three separate cocktail bars, each with a theme. Guests could roam from one to the other and try different drinks or stick with their favorite spirit and still experience variety. And the bonus of three bars is it avoids lines for drinks, keeping the booze flowing and the guests dancing.

Photo by Annie Spratt


Struggling with how to feed your gaggle of pregnant friends, your groom’s Paleo-only Crossfit buddies, non-drinkers or your one vegan bridesmaid? It’s all doable, but make it a part of the plan from the beginning. Instead of trying to please everyone, your catering team can incorporate dishes that are labeled for special diets and in the case of one or two very specific diet needs (like vegan or kosher), we can just have something special on hand for those guests. Conversely, if you’re the one with the special diet, let your caterer brainstorm on ways to abide by your dietary regime while not jarring guests with food they aren’t used to eating. An Indian dish is a perfect way to sneak vegan into a dinner and kosher-style can be as easy as offering brussels sprouts with bacon on the side for those who want it. And for non-drinkers, there’s no reason they can’t indulge in the fun of cocktail culture too. We can create shrubs from local fruit, zingy syrups to pep up a sparkling water or a full list of NA drinks.


It can be a burden to try to merge wedding traditions and one place where people often have opinions is the old seated versus cocktail style debate. In New Orleans, many would balk at the idea of a seated wedding meal and relatives from the Northeast would be appalled at not having a chair and table to call their own. Our advice? Find a middle ground. If you choose a cocktail style with stations, just make sure there are enough tables and chairs for the majority of guests to sit and eat their meal. For seated affairs, choosing family style or limiting the meal to two courses with a dessert station alleviates too much time at the table. And there are many other solutions in between.

But we aren’t magicians.

Photo by Nick Karvounis 


As much as we want to be creative and find a way to make your dream wedding a reality, we cannot change science. Your buttercream wedding cake WILL melt in a summer outdoor wedding. Period.


You can try to control where your guests convene, but if there is an outside, they will be outside, and if there is an inside, they will go inside. Just put the tables and chairs in both. Please.


Just like you, we’re on a schedule. With food preparation, staffing and set up, it leaves us very little wiggle room. If you’re 45 minutes early to your reception, it will look like a chaotic mess of empty tables and people running everywhere. Similarly, if you’re 45 minutes late, the salad may be wilting and we often can’t extend the night to make up for the delay.


 If your dad only drinks Maker’s Mark, let us know early. We order ahead so running out for a special item is usually not possible during the event. If you ask us for something like this during the event, we’ll all feel bad about it. Help us help you!

Seeing a couple enjoy one of the happiest days of their life together never gets old. It's why we love what we do! Bottom line: we’re here to help and with great communication, the day can be as magical as you imagine it to be.

Check out www.joels.com and their event venue www.ilmercatoevents.com

Photo by rawpixel.com

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