Undestanding Catering Service

When it’s time to start looking at catering companies for your wedding reception, understanding catering service, budget, and style you want and need will help you narrow down your options. So what is the difference between luxury, full-service, and budget catering? Let’s break it down!


Wedding receptions have many moving parts, and luxury catering companies provide you with an event coordinator to assist you and the wedding planner on the timeline, budget, and overall vision. That person provides help and feedback throughout planning and then attends your wedding to make sure all the details are perfectly attended to.

High-end catering companies also have the opportunity to get really creative with the menu. When food budgets are high, so are the options. From multiple courses to plated dinners to action stations, they can create it all. They also elevate the experience with creative décor and props, such as luxury linens or imported fabrics.

Luxury catering companies are discerning when it comes to the table set-up: are the linens crisp and wrinkle free? Is the China polished to perfection? Are the utensils perfectly placed? Are the water goblets iced and on the table at the proper time? Are the chairs all at an equal distance? Attention to detail matters and you will get that level of service with a luxury caterer!

Members of the catering staff will be dressed to reflect the formality of your wedding. And luxury caterers tend to over-staff as opposed to under-staff so they can provide unique services like wine service to your guests during dinner. This requires trained, accomplished servers that know how to properly pour, so they prepare ahead of time to fulfill all of your food and service wishes.


Full-service caterers are there with you from start to finish. Before the wedding day they help create a menu with you, order the needed rentals, and facilitate staffing. On the day-of they set the guest tables, serve the plated meal or buffet, and clear the tables. Some full-service caterers even provide alcohol and bartenders to their clients. There is a wide range of full-size caterers in Kansas City, so be sure to ask about the particular offerings of each caterer you are interested in before hiring them to ensure that they are providing everything you need.

So, what’s the difference between a luxury and full-service caterer? Mainly, passion for the food. If the menus are highly creative and prepared from scratch by professionally trained chefs, then they are likely a luxury caterer. They have a genuine passion for culinary creation, which is what separates them from full-service or budget catering.


Budget friendly catering doesn’t have to mean poor service or bad food. A good example is barbeque. BBQ is a Kansas City staple and there are so many wonderful options to choose from. Disposable plates and utensils are totally acceptable when BBQ is on the menu. And using disposables requires fewer staff members to clear the tables.

When considering a full-service vs. budget caterer, you need to research your options and ask the following questions to help you decide:

  • How many service staff will be provided?
  • Will they cut and serve the cake?
  • Will they clear tables and remove trash?
  • Do they provide a bar service or bartending?
  • Will they help order, pick-up, and return rentals?

There are fabulous restaurants in town, but not all of them are good at catering. Serving food from within their restaurant and then serving off-site are two very different things. Your wedding is a very important day, and you need to ensure that if you are looking into hiring a restaurant that they are fully able to provide you the food and services you need.

Budget friendly catering commonly has simpler menus and buffets are an economical choice. And while drop-off catering is the least expensive, I would not recommend it. There are way too many variables and things that can go wrong!

Whether you decide on a luxury reception or a more budget friendly event, always do the research to work towards understanding catering service. You want experienced, professional, friendly caterers who are licensed and easy to work with. This applies to any wedding budget.

Enjoy Understanding Catering Service? Ready to start finding vendors for your wedding? Check out our collection of Kansas City Wedding Vendors.