Expert Advice for Planning a Self-Catered Wedding

Planning a self-catered wedding? You may feel like you have your work cut out. While the self-catered route does have its benefits, there’s a lot to consider.

Still, if you’re up to the challenge and can think of nothing more fun than organising every last detail of your big day, planning a self-catered wedding can be hugely rewarding. And with our expert help and advice, you’ll be well on your way to piecing together the perfect day.

Here, we’re detailing our top tips for planning a self-catered wedding to remember.

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First Steps: Finding Your Perfect Self-Catered Wedding Venue

Although self-catered weddings are reasonably common, not all venues offer them. And there are several reasons for this, including potential loss of earnings, insurance issues, and unique challenges which can make the self-catering option unfeasible.

That said, there are lots of wedding venues that do offer a self-catered service, including The Mere. We understand that not all our clients want an all-inclusive package, and that they may have specific requirements that make self-catering a better option for their big day.

Before you book a self-catering wedding venue, however, it’s important to read the list of inclusions and exclusions carefully. That way, there’ll be no nasty surprises on the day, and you can get everything organised and in place in good time.

A self-catered wedding service can mean different things depending on the venue. For example, some places may hire the room alone and charge extra for additions, while others will include all the essentials in the overall price.

pouring a glass of champagne


At The Mere, we fall into the latter category – offering a total price that covers the cost of hiring one of our venues plus some of the essential things you’ll need throughout the day. This typically includes:

  • – Partial use of the kitchens for approved caterers
  • – Napkins in a choice of colours
  • – White, ivory, or black tablecloths
  • – Use of dance floor and staging space for the band or top table
  • – Banqueting chairs and tables
  • – Red carpet welcome to the function suite
  • – Corkage and ice for your own drinks
  • – Access to a Special Events
  • – Coordinator and Banqueting Manager
  • – Complimentary Junior Suite on the night of the wedding

Remember – inclusions and exclusions vary from venue to venue, so always read self-catering package descriptions carefully to see what’s covered and what you may need to pay extra for on top of the venue hire cost.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Caterer

So, you’ve found your dream self-catered wedding venue and are happy with the service and price they can provide. Now it’s time for your next task: choosing a caterer.

Wedding caterers vary widely in terms of price, service, inclusions, and quality. This can make choosing the right caterer that much more difficult.

Happily, to narrow things down and make sure you receive the service you deserve, a lot of self-catering wedding venues – including The Mere – provide a list of approved caterers. These are vendors that meet a certain standard and are personally recommended by the venue, so you can rest assured that there’ll be no problems or hiccoughs on the day.

Here at The Mere, we work with lots of local and regional wedding caterers, all of whom are pre-approved to set up and work on our premises. And with a broad range of cuisines, tastes, and special requirements on offer, you’re sure to find a wedding caterer that suits your needs and budget.

banquet table


If, however, you would like to bring in your own wedding caterer, this can be arranged with prior approval from our banqueting team. There are a few basic requirements needed when selecting a wedding caterer, and they must be able to provide:

  • – Public liability insurance
  • – A recent environmental health audit rating
  • – Standard health & safety certificates

The rules surrounding bringing in your own caterer aren’t unique to The Mere. Most self-catering wedding venues have the same criteria, so bear that in mind when it comes to shortlisting your preferred wedding caterers.

What Are Wedding Caterers Responsible for on the Big Day?

Wedding caterers are essentially responsible for the smooth running of your reception, or at least the part that involves food. So, it’s a good idea to understand what they need to provide and organise on the day, so you can rest assured that all bases are covered.

Typically, caterers take charge of every aspect of your wedding breakfast. That includes table setting, dressing, service, and clean up.

As well as these duties, they’re also usually required to supply crockery, cutlery, and glassware throughout the meal. You may be able to hire these items from the venue directly, but expect to pay extra.

In terms of using a function room’s adjoining kitchen, wedding caterers are generally allowed partial access to food preparation areas, but you will need to pay extra for use of fridges, dishwashers, and some other appliances. Caterers are also responsible for removing all rubbish from the function area and kitchen, and returning the space as they found it.

So, as you can see, wedding caterers have a lot on their plate. That’s why it’s important to choose a vendor you trust, or else select one that’s been approved by the venue.

couple getting a married


Essential Tips for the Perfect Self-Catered Wedding

By now, you should have a reasonably good idea what goes into organising a self-catered wedding. But to make sure you’re suitably prepared, here are some additional tips that can help you along the way:

  • Check the venue’s storage and refrigeration capacity – All of your caterer’s hard work needs to go somewhere until it’s time to eat, so always double-check that the on-site kitchen is suitable before you book.
  • Set clear expectations with your caterer – Caterers need clarity and detail if they’re to deliver a service that’s up to standard, so don’t be afraid to be straight-talking and transparent about your expectations. Also, you need to be upfront about guest numbers from the off, as this affects everything from price to capacity.
  • Don’t over-estimate how much food and drink you need – When planning a self-catering wedding, people tend to over-estimate on the amount of food and drink that’s required. Of course, you don’t want your guests to go hungry or thirsty, but there’s little point spending more on food and drink that could wind up in the bin. As a rule of thumb, experts recommend catering to 85% of your total headcount. If you’re not sure, talk to your caterer or the venue’s banqueting team for guidance.
  • Don’t forget snacks, supper, and breakfast – Food forms a big part of any good wedding, and it isn’t just the main post-ceremony meal you need to worry about. Guests typically expect supper as the night goes on, while those staying over might enjoy breakfast too. Of course, it’s up to you, but the last thing you want is guests moaning that they’re hungry.


We hope this guide hasn’t put you off the idea of planning a self-catered wedding. Because with the right venue and caterer, as well as a good amount of patience, you can make your self-catered wedding one to remember.

Whether you want to plan your wedding to the nth degree or let the experts take charge of the finer details, The Mere is here to help you plan and prepare for an unforgettable day. Click here to browse our complete range of self-catered and all-inclusive wedding packages or give us a call on 01565 830155.