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How to Choose a Wedding Caterer

By Darcie Pagnucco
So, you have recently become engaged. Congratulations! But what now… There are so many decisions to make in order to have a successful wedding day. One of them is choosing your wedding caterer and style. This may be that one element that you have overlooked. As your guests sit through your wedding ceremony and patiently wait for your arrival at the reception, they are in anticipation of an amazing wedding meal.

A frequently asked question when deciding about a wedding caterer is, “When should I book a caterer?” Typically, a bride and groom will book their caterer when they choose their wedding date or reception venue. A general rule of thumb is nine months prior to the wedding. The bride and groom should double check to see if catering options are included at their venue of choice. If catering is not included at the site, they may have a preferred vendor list. Normally, this is a list of professional caterers they have worked with at prior events. The venue can vouch for their work, and the caterer will know the facility and what is needed for an event there to run perfectly. Also, be sure to understand if there are any special fees for selecting a non-preferred caterer. Understand all the policies of the caterer before signing your contract.

Another item to consider when selecting a caterer is the price. Every bride and groom has a budget for their wedding and the catering services must fit within that budget. Prior to choosing a caterer, understand your budget and what you are willing to spend for their services. The bride and groom must also understand what the caterer’s cost includes and does not include. Often the prices advertised are not the bottom line. The final sale will often include sales tax and gratuity. At times the cost for linens, china, and other necessities has not been included. Make sure when discussing cost you are fully aware of what you are paying for and do not assume things are included in the final price. Although most caterers are willing to help you find a package that will fit your budget, make sure you clarify your maximum budget so the caterer is able to best accommodate your needs.

Of course, a major factor in choosing a wedding caterer has to be the taste. It’s important to see examples of recent catering work so you are aware of the quality of work the company is providing. Another good idea is to ask about tasting options. This way you can get a taste before your big day and there are no surprises. Be aware there are busy times for the catering industry as well and try to plan avoid holidays and summer months. Schedule your meeting well in advance so there is not a last-minute complication. A lot of couples have unique families with rich tradition and heritage. You may not be able to have a meal on your wedding day without a family favorite recipe or dish. Do not be afraid to ask the catering company if they can adjust their menu to meet your needs.

Every wedding has a theme. Make sure that your chosen caterer has a style that fits your theme. If you’re looking for an extremely elegant and formal meal, you will want a plated dinner. Keep in mind this takes extra time and staffing in order for your event to maintain a suitable timeframe. You could also have a family style dinner. This is similar to a plated dinner but slightly less formal. By choosing this style, guests may choose what they want and how much. This style is a great way to foster communication between your guests. It could also require more time and staffing, but less than a plated dinner. The final style is a buffet style dinner which has become very popular recently. This is the least formal of your options and it also takes the least amount of time. Once again, your guests will be able to choose what food they want and how much. This style requires the least amount of staffing and keeps the timeframe of the reception moving at a decent pace. Take all of these elements into consideration when choosing your catering style. Is it more important to you to maintain a formal feel or would you prefer more time for other elements of your event. Lastly, make sure your caterer can deliver your preferred style elegantly and professionally.
These are just a few things to keep in mind for your special day. Remember, catering is just one of the many services to book during a chaotic time. If all of these points are addressed, it will help make the process less stressful. Also, talking to a professional about your priorities can help to alleviate the stress of handling everything yourself.

How to Choose a Wedding Caterer

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