Catering & Food: What to Expect from Venue

Village Pantry Catering | Devoted Cincinnati Dayton Wedding Planning Vendor Directory

What is the one thing that people remember the most about a wedding? Guests will talk about the food! However, what food and caterer(s) will your venue allow? There are three types of catering that can be provided to guests at your wedding reception.


If your venue has an in-house caterer, that exclusive caterer provides all the food (banquet, restaurant, room service, etc.) at the hotel or venue. Venues, such as hotels, also hold a liquor license, which means they will provide a TIPS certified bartender, and you must purchase your alcohol through them. In short, you must use their in-house caterer, no exceptions. If that in-house caterer needs to subcontract another caterer for specific dishes (such as Indian, Greek, or other ethnic foods) that the in-house Chef cannot prepare to your satisfaction, YOU will still need to go through the in-house caterer.

Village Pantry Catering | Devoted Cincinnati Dayton Wedding Planning Vendor Directory


Other types of venues, such as a barn, house, or pavilion, will have what is called a ‘preferred’ caterers list. This means that you must use one of the caterers on the list that the venue provides to you. Most venues that have this type of arrangement will have 4-5 licensed caterers that provide variety of price points and cuisines to choose from. The venue may also require the caterer list a mandatory line item ‘venue’ fee, which is a percentage of the total cost of the catering bill, to your final invoice. These types of arrangements are very common. The reason why many venues go this route is because a licensed caterer will bring hotboxes, ample ice, and the liability insurance and other health department certificate to ensure that your food will be prepared correctly and served safely to your guests. The venue has also given these caterers a tour of their prep kitchen and a list of expectations to keep the prep kitchen in tip-top shape for the next event. Some caterers hold a liquor license, which would require you to purchase your alcohol through them. The caterer would also provide you with a TIPS certified bartender on the day of the wedding, releasing you from personal liability for an overserved guest. Other caterers (like Village Pantry) will allow you to provide the alcohol, mixers, garnishes, etc. (which is a great way to save money), but you need to provide a TIPS certified bartender (like Bitters N’ Sweets Bartending) to serve guests their spirits.  

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There are also venues that allow you to bring in your own food. (Some may insist on a licensed caterer of your choosing, so be prepared for that!) The benefits of bringing in your own food and alcohol is the major cost savings and the flexibility to serve favorite family recipes. The drawback is that, instead of being a guest, someone from your family will be responsible for cooking the cuisine, serving the food, keeping it at a safe temperature, and serving beverages to guests. In addition, should someone get sick from the food, consume too much alcohol, or cause damage to the prep kitchen, YOU will ultimately be liable for anything that should happen as a result.

Wedding Photography of Food: Pottinger Photography

Village Pantry Catering | Devoted Cincinnati Dayton Wedding Planning Vendor Directory