What is the first thing that everyone talks about after a wedding; The Food. Was it fun, fashionable or a failure? As you are planning your day, taking special care to choose a caterer that can complete the plate with your particular flair is paramount. Here a few tips when choosing the caterer of your dreams.
Tip #1: Know your budget and menu!
Catering will be the #1 or #2 highest ticket item for your special day and pricing will vary widely from vendor to vendor. Narrow your choices to vendors that can provide a menu that celebrates you as a couple but fits into your budget. Set your menu by putting thought into what food themes you want, seafood? vegetarian? If your menu picks are considered in the early stage, 8 to 12 months out is best, you can include food items on your invitation. Having an approximate head count will also help to give you an accurate proposal cost and be realistic in your choices. A plated meal will cost more than a buffet. In fact a seated table can be almost double the cost of a buffet since you might have to rent specific tables, chairs, glassware, etc. and you will have more staffing needs. Caviar and tuna dip are not the same expense, don’t expect miracles out of your caterer.
Tip #2 Ask for recommendations from your venue.
Wedding venues work with a variety of caterers on a regular basis. Some venues will only work with accepted caterers if they meet certain requirements. Talk with your venue as there might be special needs for the caterer if it is an outside wedding or an older venue, like a historic mansion, with limited kitchen access. This could have an impact on the overall cost. Use the inside knowledge of your venue to help cultivate your caterer list and make sure they are approved to work in the space. Many venues will have a preferred vendor list for you to work from, but make sure to check our list of regional Caterers Here. Also, ask your venue for their wedding venue brochure to see a full list of preferred vendors. Take a look at our wedding venue Brochures Here! Good caterers book fast so start looking earlier in your wedding planning.
Tip #3 Get Multiple Proposals.
One size does not fit all and every caterer is not created equal. Visit several (at least 2 or 3) area caterers and make sure to try your top three or four menu choices from each. Ask for a written cost proposal to compare and contrast your choices and choose one that ticks those must have boxes. Pay attention to the fine print details of dinnerware and linens, as well as server costs, not included tips and service fees. Ask the caterer about additional costs including cake cutting, corkage and bartender fees, these will be on top of the food expense. They may be an added cost absent in your quote. This is also the best time to check for vendor insurance and cancellation costs. Get these in writing!! Some venues will ask for the proof of insurance and cancellation policies are a must to have on hand.
Tip #4 Read Reviews.
Take online information with a grain of salt. Be aware that some people are just not appeasable, but if you see consistent reviews with issues, this may not be the caterer for you. Friends and family are great references, but this is where having a wedding planner will be beneficial as they can recommend reputable caterers. And again, your venue will have suggestions!
Tip #5 Get a Signed Contract.
This tip is essential and might be obvious to most. There are situations where a vendor might quote rough numbers to you over the phone or text, only to get the official estimate, or worse the invoice and the price is much higher. These surprises can be eliminated by asking the above questions about extra fees and tips. Have it in writing so you can discuss final costs before you are set on the passed lobster toasts hors-d'oeuvres or the beautiful after hours dessert and candy bar that put you over budget.
Be sure to comment about your favorite caterers! We love to hear about perfect connections.