Chocolate FountainMost people only need to find a caterer for one event in their life; their wedding day. Even if you find yourself booking a catering company on more than one occasion, chances are it is a very rare occurrence. Since looking for a caterer isn’t something you do very often, it can be very easy to get confused when you are out there shopping around. Set aside the fact that there’s hundreds of wedding caterers in any given region and all of them will likely boast their awesome online reviews and you can still be overwhelmed by all of the food options and catering terminology. To give you the upper hand while planning your wedding, we have put together a guide to catering terminology that can serve as your comprehensive resource so you can get exactly what you pay for.

Common Catering Terminology

Buffet: A good way to offer several entrees in a free-flowing atmosphere. Not recommended for couples with limited space.

Plated Dinner: This is the opposite of a buffet-style dinner where each guest is served a plate of food at their table. Though plated dinners can be much more elegant, they are often much more expensive and can limit the options each guests has for their food choices.

Canapé: Any bite-size appetizer served on a small round of bread, cracker or vegetable (e.g., blinis with crème fraiche and caviar).

Corkage Fee: Many caterers charge a fee per bottle of alcohol just to open it during your reception. The charge applies only if you have provided the alcohol yourselves instead of getting it through your caterer. The price ranges from $5 to $10 per bottle.

Chocolate Fountain: Similar to fondue, a chocolate fountain is literally molten chocolate that is pumped to the top of a serving container while it is heated and then cascades down to the holding tray. This can offer an elegant look at your wedding and is usually accompanied by fresh fruits and cake cubes for dipping.

Crudités: An appetizer of raw vegetables (like carrots, celery, cucumbers and peppers), sliced up and served with dip.

The terminology listed above for catering covers most of the confusing items that we are asked about on a regular basis. There are many more words that make up a complete list of catering terminology, but most of them are used on a regular basis and you won’t have trouble understanding them. If you run into anything you don’t understand while booking a caterer for your wedding, be sure to ask the catering company for detailed information. The last thing you want to have happen is your caterer to show up at your reception and serve food you didn’t expect on your plate.