Happy Wedding Wednesday SMPers! I think it’s time for a little spotlight, don’t you? We have our fair share of convo about gorgeous dresses, lovely blooms and the little details that make a wedding come together. But we don’t give the wedding dinner the love it truly deserves—what do you think fuels all that late night dancing?! So, we’ve brought in one of our talented caterers, Dine by Design to let us in on some of the tips that make weddings so tasty.

SMP: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is Dine by Design?

DBD: Over seven years ago, in March of 2006, I opened Dine by Design Catering in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Ever since, we’ve been happily catering from Pensacola to St. George Island, though most of our events take place along beautiful Scenic 30A, in south Walton County. At a “certain age”, my lifelong love affair with food led me to leave a successful career in the software biz and into culinary school in New York City. After graduating from The French Culinary Institute, I spent eighteen months in Paris completing an apprenticeship at a Michelin starred restaurant, before moving to Northwest Florida and opening Dine by Design Catering.

Dine by Design is a boutique catering company, which means that we don’t expect to be all things to all people. We are chef-owned, so our food is certainly a priority, and we cook everything from scratch. We have a passion for food and believe that it should be fun! That said, we take great pride in our customer service, and receive great reviews for that as well.

SMP: Favorite part of your job?

DBD: Menu creation! Our goal is to understand a client’s specific tastes, in order to be able to put together a menu that speaks to them personally. It’s always a challenge, but a fun one, and we get it right because we listen.

SMP: How early in advance should a couple meet with a caterer?

DBD: Our market is unique.The months of April through June, and September through October are very busy for weddings in this region. If a client is planning an event during those months, I’d recommend sealing the deal with your major vendors as soon as possible. There are also specific dates that book up quickly; for example if you were interested in 10-11-12, that’s the sort of date that you’d better hop on right away. In addition, the earlier you establish a relationship with your vendors, the longer you will have to develop a rapport with them; and a great rapport will a vendor will really help you during those final, dizzying, tense days!

SMP: What are some budget friendly ways to fancy-up a wedding meal?

DBD: In general, a buffet will be less expensive than a seated meal, simply because it requires less labor. However, if you stock your buffet with beef tenderloin and pretty grouper, it could end up being more expensive! Also, if you’re a foodie, and upscale food is important to you, you might want to consider scaling down the number of guests to serve the sort of meal you want. Another choice to consider is the number of dishes you serve. A caterer never ever wants to run out of food, so the greater the variety, the more expensive a buffet will be, because there are that many more dishes to “cover”.

SMP: What percent of a wedding budget do you recommend setting aside for catering?

DBD: The average is ten percent of your total wedding budget. Naturally that depends on tastes, however, so it’s possible that food just isn’t a big deal for you (gasp!), and you might be able to get away with a little less.

SMP: Any advice for Brides & Grooms on the big day?

DBD: BREATHE! Have fun! Take it all in, so that you remember the day well after it is over. If you choose vendors that you trust, they will handle everything for you and your special day.

Catering: Dine by Design Catering