Crafting the perfect wedding menu can feel like a daunting task– especially if you’re stuck on where to start or are unsure of the right questions to ask during the planning process.
Luckily, our team sat down with the team at Vermont wedding caterer Pauline’s Restaurant and learned all things wedding catering!
From accommodating dietary preferences to details to consider when it comes to outdoor venues, this is post will not only make you hungry, but it’ll also be one you’ll want to bookmark and refer back to.
How can couples accommodate their guests’ dietary preferences in their wedding catering menus? What’s the best way to communicate those needs to a catering partner?
Try to communicate any dietary needs during the initial inquiry process, along with your budget!
There’s the big four: poultry, seafood, beef, and vegetarian/vegan. (With beef always being the costliest option) However, if you are trying to tighten your budget, it helps to have flexibility in terms of protein types and cuts, especially now with suppliers raising their prices.
Our off-site catering packages usually include 2-3 proteins standard, whereas our in-house events can accommodate 4, sometimes 5, without having to tack on additional fees. (Hosting your wedding at a restaurant allows you a wider selection of protein choices without breaking the bank, allowing more room for guest accommodation!)
We recommend that one of your options is gluten-free or vegetarian, especially if you’re looking at a larger guest list.
What suggestions do you have for vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free options for a wedding?
If a caterer sees your gluten-free or vegan menu request as a challenge, you’ve gone to the wrong caterer!
The right vendor will not only meet your needs, but will see it as a chance to get creative with their menu options! Usually, couples come to us because they’ve already dined in-person at our restaurant before and want that same Pauline’s experience at their wedding, so accommodating these requests are super easy.
If you are planning a vegan menu, your best bet is to consider vegetable-based meals that can stand on their own, like a classic ratatouille or a seared cauliflower “steak.” These dishes should also have a range of flavor profiles so you can accommodate a range of palates.
What do you wish couples knew about wedding catering?
There’s a common misconception that the most affordable route is to pick an outdoor venue like a park or a barn. One of the biggest unexpected expenses you can run into when it comes to catering is your equipment rentals, which significantly increase with these types of venues.
If your location doesn’t have an on-site kitchen (meaning any stoves, ovens, sinks, etc. on the property), you’re looking at possibly up to a few extra thousand dollars in equipment charges. (Food trucks are one way to remedy this, but it’s still likely that you’ll have to rent your own supply of plates, glassware, flatware, etc.)
You can also run into supply issues since most equipment providers have dates booked out very far in advance. Not to mention booking a restaurant or inn allows you to choose a plated dinner (as opposed to a buffet) for a much more affordable rate since they already have the staff and chinaware on site.
Few couples realize that booking a restaurant or inn as your venue truly does help provide one of the most hassle-free experiences!
How would you describe your culinary/ catering style in general?
I couldn’t talk about our culinary approach, especially in regards to wedding catering, without mentioning the sense of love and community that is felt in the restaurant.
The vibe at Pauline’s is sophisticated, yet unpretentious dining and the catering side is just an extension of that. You can tell just from entering the restaurant that there’s a lot of care put into the place and the food. Everything’s purposeful and intentional. It’s this rustic, kitschy little spot that most tourists and out-of-towners tend to ignore because it’s not downtown, but ask anybody with roots in Vermont and they’ll let you know about how special the place is.
Our culinary approach is all about high-end, locally-sourced cuisine that feels familiar yet exciting. It’s about sincerity, care for the quality of your work, and love for your community, which is why so many families see Pauline’s as the spot to celebrate every important occasion in their lives. The majority of our customers are regulars, so we see the same faces every year. We see kids grow up and families get bigger. The act of dining at Pauline’s in itself is a tradition that gets passed down from generation to generation, making it the perfect venue or caterer for a couple who really believes that marriage should be a celebration of unity and family.
What’s your favorite moment during a wedding?
That moment of relief! Mothers, bridesmaids, couples, etc. have been coming to us for over 45 years now, so we know how much stress, anxiety, and uncertainty comes with wedding planning. Whether it’s coordinating a bridal brunch, crafting up couples’ custom cocktails, or serving up a completely vegan wedding, it’s our job to make sure you can actually enjoy your event and have the best experience possible.
For us, there is no better moment during a wedding than seeing our customers letting go of all of their wedding planning anxiety and actually getting the chance to celebrate their occasion!
What’s your favorite thing to do in VT or a local spot to visit?
Going to the farmer’s market. We try to use local ingredients as much as we can in our cuisine and it’s important to support our partners both inside and outside of the restaurant. There’s nothing better than being able to go to the farmer’s market and find new products to work with or revisit our favorite stands. These small businesses are really the heart and soul of Vermont.
Forming a partnership both during and outside of work hours lets you form a better connection to the food and makes you more appreciative of all the care that goes into your work.
What’s a song that always gets you on the dance floor?
Suavemente by Elvis Crespo! We love a good merengue hit over at Pauline’s.
Thank you! Learn more about Pauline’s in the vendor guide.