Choosing a Wedding Caterer

When it comes to wedding reception food, hiring a professional caterer instead of personally cooking for every guest is a wise decision. Moreover, hiring a caterer will also save your precious time and energy helping you to focus on other details of your wedding. Take a look at some important tips which can help you find the right one.

Cost

When searching for caterers, budget should always be taken in account. It is best to ask for a breakdown of costs to understand about the services. Since the caterer will often coordinate linens, plates and tables, you should allocate your budget for this as well. Most of the caterers ask for 50% deposit, so be very sure before signing the contract.

Tastings

Top quality caterers schedule a menu tasting before they are hired. Menu tasting is a very important step as it lets you gauge their cooking abilities. If you find that the food is not up to your standard after the session, it could be an indication for you to start looking elsewhere.

Referrals

Reviews and ratings from reliable sources can help you find a right caterer for your wedding. You should also take valuable recommendations from friends and family who had good experiences with catering services. Once you have a list of caterers, make appointments with them and choose the one that can best execute your wedding catering needs.

Ask for a contract

When you hire a caterer, you should make sure to include everything in writing. From the wait staff to cutlery to cake cutting to drinks, china and linens, the contract should state everything.

Book early

The best caterers are always in high demand especially in wedding seasons. So, it is best to book the catering service in advance to get the best caterer in town.

Wedding cake

While looking for a caterer, make sure the caterer provides cake service or doesn’t mind using a baker if you have already found one. Caterers usually charge for cake cutting and serving so find out if the charges are included or not.

How to Choose a Good Wedding Caterer

Before looking for your caterer, you should have your reception venue, date, and time already finalized. You should also know what reception rentals you need to provide, and if you can bring in your own caterer or must use someone recommended by the site. While many couples prefer the freedom of choosing their own caterer, working from a “preferred list” of vendors isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. Caterers on your site’s “list” are most likely to deliver good work, or they wouldn’t have your venue’s seal of approval. They’re also familiar with your site’s kitchen, layout, coordinator, etc. Even if your venue allows you to bring in whomever you choose, ask the site coordinator who they recommend. And of course, get suggestions from friends and family, aiming for a short list of five or six caterers who come highly recommended.

Budget
To decide your catering budget, ask yourself how important a role food and drinks play in your wedding vision. And keep in mind, there are many types of receptions to choose from. Catering costs are determined by a few factors: the number of guests you host, the number of courses and food choices you offer, the cost of ingredients, rentals, the way the food is served (buffet style, seated service or tray passed), and finally, the caterer’s level of expertise. The more flexible you are about these variables, the more wiggle room your caterer has to create the best menu for your budget.

Phone Call
Instead of having a face-to-face interview, get some key questions answered over the phone. First off, find out if each caterer is available on your wedding day and if they can work within your budget. Once you’ve got an idea who is available and affordable, schedule interviews with your top three picks. During these interviews, you should be able to answer each caterer’s questions about your event and be ready to ask a few of your own, like:

· What range of menu options and courses can you offer for my budget?
· Do you offer any rentals? If not, can you coordinate rentals, including pick-up and return, with a third party? Can I bring in my own rentals if the cost is less?
· How much time do you need to set up and break down?
· Do you provide liquor? What is the cost per drink/ bottle? Will you buy back unopened bottles?
· Can I bring in my own liquor, and if so, is there a corkage fee?
· Who will oversee the event and catering staff?
· How many servers will be at my event?
· Can you provide a wedding cake? Can you provide a groom’s cake?
· Will you box the cake for guests to take home? Will you box the top tier of the cake for freezing?
· Do you provide bartenders? If so, how many do I need?
· Do you charge extra to pour coffee for guests?
· Will you pack a to-go snack for the bride and groom?
· How do you handle guests who require vegetarian or special meals?
· Do you require a minimum or maximum number of guests?
· Will you provide food for the photographer, videographer, or musicians?
· What kind of deposit do you require to hold a wedding date?
· What is the payment schedule?
· What is your refund or cancellation policy?
· Are gratuities already figured into the total price? If so, what percentage is being charged? In addition to factored gratuities, will staff expect a cash tip?
· When does the menu need to be finalized? When will you provide the final per-person cost?
· When do you require the final head count?
· Do you offer menu tastings?

Tastings
Caterers with storefronts will usually give clients a sampling of reception fare. Others host tastings a few times a year, feeding a number of clients at once. But some caterers only provide tastings once a contract is in place, others require that couples pay for tastings, and some don’t offer them at all. If a caterer you’re considering doesn’t offer you a tasting, taking the time to check their references becomes all the more important. You might also want to ask about paying for a sample menu for two. With so much of your wedding budget at stake, it isn’t a bad investment, and you and your fiancé can make a date of it.