By Rebecca Padgett
While your guests attend your wedding because they love you and want to support you, the best way to return that love and support is to provide them with an enjoyable reception. One of the primary ways to do that is with food and refreshments.
Guests anticipate and remember the food and drinks served at your wedding. With it being such an important aspect of the reception, there are many important things to keep in mind. Whether you plan for a steak and lobster sit-down dinner or passed appetizers at a casual cocktail hour, here are some things to consider when deciding on your caterer.
How To Find A Caterer
First, consult your venue. Your venue may already offer catering on-site, and if not, they likely have a list of preferred vendors. If nothing on that list strikes your fancy, you can set out on your own by asking friends, family members and locals. If you don’t reside in the city of your wedding, flip through local magazines, visit wedding sites like The Knot or Google search it. Your favorite restaurant may offer catering.
Do Your Research
Before reaching out, your best resource is the internet. You can become your own sleuth. A website will usually tell a lot about a company. Usually websites contain photo galleries, sample menus, customer reviews and contact information. Social media accounts are a great way to see even more of a company’s work. For true testaments, check out their ratings on Google, social media and other rating platforms.
Consider Your Budget
You and your partner should talk openly about how much you are willing to spend on catering. Food is important to many people, and although it may not rank the highest, it will likely be in your top five expenses. This budget can be determined by many factors including how many guests and what kind of food you would like served.
Come prepared with a rough estimate of your guest list. Don’t fixate on exact numbers as caterers know this total will fluctuate. They just need a general number in order to give you a quote.
This is the fun part! When you and your fiancé envision your first meal as a couple, sharing it with your closest friends and family, is it an Italian buffet, handheld bites or a four-course plated feast? If you have a particular food genre in mind, it might help to make sure the caterers will serve what you’re considering.
Once you have done your research and considered the details of your wedding, you’re ready to reach out to caterers. While it might be wise to lower your list to your top two or three, you can send out initial contacts to as many as you please. An email or phone call may work best for initial talks, but then it is best to meet in person to discuss the details and get a tasting — if you’ve never tried the company’s food. Keep in mind some companies may charge you for a taste test or may not let you taste the food until after you have already signed a contract. This process is all about what you are comfortable with.
No matter what, if you are seriously considering a company, you should always be provided with a contract that you can carefully read. Before, during and after reading the contract, you should ask as many questions as you need in order to feel satisfied and sure of their services.
Questions to Ask
Is my date available?
Have you catered at my venue before?
What do you require of us/the venue?
How much time will be needed for set up and clean up?
Are your menus pre-planned or can they be customized?
Is it a set fee or cost per person?
Are there price differences in plated meals or buffet?
Can you accommodate dietary restrictions and needs?
Can you make meals for children?
When will you need final headcount?
What do you do with leftover food?
Where do you source your food from?
Do you provide bartending services?
Do you supply alcohol?
Can we provide our own?
What supplies do you provide?
What serving ware do you use?
What is the server to guest ratio?
Do you have proper catering license?
What is the payment plan?
What amount is due for the deposit?
When is the final payment due?
What is your cancellation policy?