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.

Wedding Gift Registries Etiquette

It is your wedding and your wedding gift registry. But still, there are some etiquette, some rules, you are supposed to follow while using these gift registries. Here are some of the important ones.

Never Advertise on Wedding Invitation: There is something funny about the Indian wedding invitations. Wedding invitations usually carry a silent obligation to buy a gift, but never explicitly mentioned. You may have noticed tiny notes such as “No presents please” or “Presents in blessing only” in invitations. These are perfect examples of such hidden messages. It may appear at first that the couple is not expecting any gifts; but in reality, these messages are there to remind you about gifts.

Similarly, once your gift registry is setup, it might appear demanding to ‘cleverly’ bring up the message on to your wedding invitation. But experts day, you are not even supposed to mention ‘no gifts, please’ on the wedding invitation! So, quite simply, get rid of the idea of talking about it on your invitation. Instead, rely on the ‘word of mouth’ act to spread the word. Ask your relatives, close friends etc. to help you out with spreading the word about this gift registry. Use social media websites to let your friends know about it. Whatever you do, never mention it on your wedding card.

Plan in Advance: When to prepare these wedding gift registries is another question that looms around you. The answer is, as early as possible! Don’t wait until the month of your wedding to prepare and publish the gift registry. Get it done as early as possible, as spreading the word about gift registry might not turn out to be as smooth as you expected.

Remember the Traditions: Another thing you need to remember is never to force anyone to follow gift registries: not your family, not your friends, just no one. Let all the guests know about the wedding gift registry you have prepared and let them choose the sides. Some people may not welcome the idea of gift registries, especially your relatives who root for traditions and customs. Again, do not force them.

Prepare an Exhaustive Registry: When it comes to the number of gifts in the wish list, they say, the more, the better. You might think adding more gifts to the registry will only help you to picture you as a ‘greedy’ couple, but you are actually helping the guests by adding more items to the list. More items in the list mean more options for the guests. You might already be thinking about a gift registry with all the modern home décor stuff and camping gears, but, add some traditional gifts too because there are people who love the idea of traditional gifting.

Blend Items: A good gifting registry will be a perfect blend of price and type of gifts. The gift registry should not be some list, just for your rich uncle Rishi! Make the list in such a way that every guest is able to find something good and affordable. You may also include an option to gift cash. But yes, adding personal items to the gift registry is not desirable because the gift registry not for the bride or for the groom, it is for the couple.

Do not expect every item in the wish list to be in among the bundle of wedding gifts you receive. The wedding gift registry is just a suggestion for the guests. They might buy something else for you, which they think you might like. Who knows, it might be a huge surprise waiting for you! Finally, don’t forget send a thank-you note for the giver, expressing your appreciation and gratitude. In this case too, the sooner, the better. Give yourself a one-month window to start sending thank you notes.