For most people, organising a reception for 50, 100 or even 200 is something they never do - except for a wedding.
Whether you choose to pass on the responsibility to the professionals, or to take on the lion's share yourself, you should be aware of all the options available and - most importantly at this expensive time - the likely cost.
Most hotels can provide you with a range of suggested menus for the wedding feast, which can be a simple finger buffet, an informal buffet meal or a sit-down luncheon or dinner.
In each instance you should be quoted a price per head for the food, which will vary according to the grading of the hotel and the area in which it is situated.
You will need to take into account how much the hotel charges for the hire of the reception room, as prices can reach several hundred pounds. Obviously, reception prices vary enormously depending on how 'posh' it is and what you are ordering.
The cheapest will be a simple buffet, while a three-course meal will certainly have a big impact on your budget.
As we are all much more insistent on getting value for money these days, it's a good idea to shop around and compare locations, facilities and costs before you make your final decision. But do so early, as places are booked up long in advance.
Try to get a word-of-mouth recommendation and if you are planning a reception in a large city, then try the council and university - both generally have attractive buildings which can house a reception with food provided by caterers.
Don't feel that you have to stick rigidly to the menus on offer; if you are sick to death of chocolate profiteroles then ask for alternatives or state your own preferences.
To keep the price down try to keep to foods which are fairly seasonal - asking for wild strawberries in December is likely to rock the bank balance.
One of the most important things to establish, once the menu has been chosen, is the number of guests you will be expecting.
Most caterers will initially ask you for a rough guide, but it is essential to let them know the exact number nearer to the time, otherwise you will almost certainly be charged for the 'no-shows'.
Ask to know the final date for which you will be charged for numbers attending. Some caterers will agree to amendments up to 48 hours before the function.
Deciding what to offer your guests to drink is a fairly crucial issue too.
Champagne is the traditional drink for toasts, and many couples choose it throughout the reception and meal.
Although this is the most expensive option, remember that a certain percentage of your party will not be drinking more than a glass (those who are driving), so it needn't be the budget-wrecker it appears to be.
You could have it just for the toasts and move on to something else for the rest of the meal. Much cheaper - and nowadays extremely popular - are the range of sparkling wines. These have the advantage of being slightly sweeter, thus appealing to more people.
To give some idea of what you're in for, you should allow six glasses of champagne to each bottle and three glasses (half a bottle) per person for a buffet of, say, two or three hours duration.
Similarly if you are drinking wine with the meal it is usual to allow half a bottle per head.
If your reception is to be held in your own home, or perhaps in a marquee, you will need to seek out your own caterer unless you are lucky enough to boast a friend or relative who is qualified. Look for advertisements or write-ups in the local press.
You will almost certainly have much more freedom of choice when it comes to the selection of food, but generally a light, uncomplicated meal goes down better than an over-rich elaborate affair.
This doesn't mean that you have to stick to the salmon/chicken main course - the 'safe' option of so many wedding feasts. Roast lamb (rack or saddle), lemon sole, venison or guinea fowl are less predictable choices, but are likely to be popular with many people.
It might pay to have a chat with the caterer, to see exactly what else they have to offer.
Why not try to obtain a meal that symbolises the origins of the happy couple? This goes down particularly well if the couple no longer reside in 'home territory' as it were.
For instance, a Lancashire couple resident in London, Birmingham or wherever might opt for a substantial Hot Pot. If one or more of the partners has roots that go back to France, Italy or India, the combinations can be quite staggering.
Don't forget to have one vegetarian dish - perhaps a pasta-based option - for those who eat neither meat nor fish; a fast-growing minority.
So far as liquid refreshment is concerned, you will be able to order it yourself - on a sale or return basis - which means you will make a considerable saving over those who must pay hotel prices for even the most humble plonk.
Your local off-licence will not only supply you with wine, bubbly, soft drinks etc - often at a discount as you are buying in bulk - but may offer to loan you glasses (you pay for the breakages) and will provide you with ice.