For many soon to be wedded couples, the fact that catering is frequently the second most costly wedding expense can be a shock at first. However, when you consider how much of the night is centered on the service your catering company provides, you quickly realize how important selecting a wedding catering service for your event is. Here is some valuable information that can make the process of hiring and working with a caterer a piece of cake.
The first thing you should check before beginning the quest for a caterer is whether or not your venue has in-house food prep and if they require you to use their staff. It is not always the case, but some venues will want exclusive control over food preparation and won’t allow third-party caterers. If this is the case, schedule a tasting to ensure their food prep dazzles you as much as the visual appeal of the location. If your venue does not offer food preparation or you would like to hire a service, start with personal recommendations.
Many of your friends and family have likely already hired a catering service in your area. You might even remember eating a particularly delicious meal at a wedding. Ask them about their service provider and their experience. Absent a raving personal experience, the next place you should check is local wedding resources like “The Knot”.
Checking directories like The Knot is a great way to find service providers of many kinds in your area. Various aspects of caterers from your neighborhood can be compared at once. This makes the research and comparison much easier. Using a search engine and searching for the keyword “Catering service in Your Location Here” can also be a useful way of finding someone to feed your guests on this special day.
Whether you find the service on a directory or through a personal referral, you will want to ask several questions to determine if the caterer is right for your wedding day. The questions will likely be the same for all of the service providers you are considering but each of you will likely need a different subset of the following questions.
- What is the final cost of catering my event?
This may seem like a no-brainer but many of the numbers a caterer quotes before the final day are subtotals of various kinds. There are sometimes fees for table setup, bar service, cleanup, extra employees, gratuity, and service fees. Take special care in being thorough with your per plate calculations as this can easily represent 50% of your wedding budget.
- Does this caterer have the required licenses to serve food and drinks at a live event in this city/state?
- Does this caterer have other commitments that may spread “The A-Team” bit thin that day?
- When is the last day you can provide menu selections and changes?
- Are they capable of handling special dietary needs like kosher or gluten-free meals? Does this cost extra?
- Does the caterer offer organic options?
- Does the caterer offer tastings before being hired? Customers of John Michael Events say his quarterly tastings are an event worth attending even if you aren’t getting married. Taste of John Michael. Taking the opportunity to taste the menu offerings is an excellent way to determine if they meet your needs.
- Do they offer wedding cakes?
- Are they full service? (Cook, Serve, Cleanup)
- Are there extra services like place settings and decorations?
- What’s the situation with the bar?
- Many services require you to purchase alcohol elsewhere that they serve for you while many offer full-service bars.
- Will the food be prepared on site or transported after preparation?
- Do they offer a buffet, plated food or stations?
- Are themed meals available?
- Are there separate vendor meals?
After asking all of the preceding questions, if you still have multiple service providers competing for your business, evaluate them based on the following criteria.
1)Availability on your wedding day
3)Quality of the food
4)Presentation of the food
Good luck in your quest to find the right company to feed your friends and family. The food consumed on a wedding day may not be one of the most discussed aspects of a wedding, but it can absolutely set the tone for the entire event. Not all caterers are created equal and many book solid a year in advance, so make finding the right one for you one of your earliest priorities in your wedding planning process.