The bride’s gown, the wedding décor, and the food are some of the first things guests notice when attending a wedding. Weddings are usually judged as epic fail or major success based on these three things. How do you choose the best caterer for your wedding party? Here is an easy guide:
Set a budget. There are many factors that can affect the price. Stick to your budget. This is why it is advised to start the planning and searching early. You will need to meet with quite a number of caterers so you will have numerous options. Rushing into a decision can provide disappointing results.
Decide how you want the reception meal to be served. Here are the usual options:
Buffet – The food are set on a table located in a certain area of the reception venue. Your guests will then help themselves to the meal. This is a great choice if you are offering a variety of meal options for your guests.
Sit-down dinner – Sit-down dinner is a more formal alternative. It also usually costs more than the buffet. In this type of service, the guests will be seated while waiters serve them their meals.
Food Stations – This is almost like a buffet where the guests serve themselves. Tables containing food are dispersed throughout the reception room. Each table or station has its own menu. For example, one table offers desserts, the other has ethnic food, and another for wines or beverages.
Hors d’oeuvres – Hors d’oeuvres are savory food items. They are either served at the tables by waiters or passed around. They can also be set at designated tables around the reception room. Examples are bruschetta, canapé, chicken fingers, and crudités.
Get recommendations. You may know some friends, office mates, or relatives who just recently got married. For sure, they are eager to give you suggestions. Wedding vendors you hired can also provide some recommendations. The manager at the reception venue will surely know a lot of caterers they have worked with in the past.
Narrow down your list to 5 potential caterers. After doing so, save time by calling them instead of setting a meeting. Narrow your list down to 3 by asking these two questions:
Are you available on the date of my wedding?
Do you have a menu that meets our budget?
Interview and set an appointment with 3 caterers. This way you can compare menu, services, and prices. If possible, attend wedding exhibitions. There will be different caterers whose food you can sample. Ask for business cards of the ones that caught your interest.
Make a list of the questions you want to ask during the interview. Here are some important ones you should not miss:
Do they accommodate menu sampling or taste testing?
Are they familiar with the reception location you have chosen?
Do they have health permit?
Do they have a license to serve liquor?
Does their price include a wedding cake?
Do you need to pay a deposit in order to reserve their services?
What is your refund policy in case I decide to cancel?
When do you need to inform them about the final head count?
What menu options can you offer for my budget?
Who will supervise the catering staff?
After interviewing a number of caterers, sit down and compare notes with your fiancé. The best caterer for your wedding has the following characteristics:
Offers the best and most number of services for your budget.
Lets you express your ideas comfortably.
Considerate about your needs.
Responds professionally to your requests.
When you think you have found the best caterer for your wedding party, review the contract before finalizing everything. Make sure that what you have agreed upon during the meeting is reflected in the contract. Check that there are no hidden charges.
Some caterers host menu tastings a few times a year. If you missed them, request to have a private taste test. You might need to pay for it but it is way better than shelling out your budget then getting a bad service.
Maria Aubrey is a work at home mom and a blogger for Best Bride 101. She lives with her daughter and her dog named Trixie.