Wow! Wedding food and drink is a big area to cover! I’ll do my best, but please accept that there are limits to what I can discuss here.
And I am a celebrant, rather than a caterer!
So, bon appetit!
There are a lot of things to balance up before you decide how to deal with this. At one level, you need to ensure the guests’ basic needs are met. So, if it’s a hot day, jugs of iced water and glasses should be available, especially if the ceremony is outdoors and the guests will be unprotected.
You may be having a ceremony, followed by photos, and then the reception. In this case, you should provide drink (with canapes?) to cover over the gaps. Typically, this would be Buck’s Fizz and a non-alcohol option.
You will have to decide whether all drinks will be at your expense or whether, say, you’ll have a cash bar after a certain time. If you’re having a sit-down meal, you’ll probably arrange for a bottle of wine and one of water to be ready laid out. You’ll probably need to replenish some way into the meal.
If you’re serving wine, it can be a bit of a dilemma choosing a suitable one. Of course, your budget will dictate your choice, but it’s worth opting for a decent wine, rather than the cheapest. Incidentally, you can sometimes afford a more expensive vintage, if you can save by arranging the affair for earlier in the day. That can often be cheaper.
It’s up to you whether you change wines (eg red to white) during the meal.
Canapes? Waiter service? Buffet or sit-down? Number of courses? Menu choices?
These are some of the questions that need to be resolved. Obviously, the number of guests and your budget will play a significant part in your considerations. You will have to choose between nouvelle cuisine, say, and hearty fare. And how spicy would you want the food to be?
A couple of things you may not have thought about:
If you’re inviting children, they are more likely to stay on ‘best’ behaviour, if they enjoy the food. So you should probably offer a kid-friendly menu. Try and avoid drinks and desserts that are sugar-rich and which will send those kids on benders!
You may also want to put the children on their own table(s). Make sure they are not left waiting for their food for too long.
Finally, be aware that you may have to cater to various diets. Of course, there are all sorts out there – not just vegetarian or vegan, gluten-free or piscatorial. Are you going to simplify by offering, say, a meat dish and a meat-free one? Are you going to ask each guest, on the invitation, if they have special needs? If you do, beware. It can get very cumbersome and complex … I’d opt for the simpler solution (but take into account special requests initiated by the guests).
I hope this has been enough to give you some “food for thought”!