You’re finally engaged and the plans for your wedding day are getting underway. Once you have decided on a date, the next thing on your to-do list should be finding a venue and hiring a caterer.
Whether you are planning a small gathering, a large opulent event, or a casual barbecue, your caterer will be instrumental in the success of your reception by providing the food, service and presentation in a way that you and your guests will enjoy and appreciate.
The first bit of advice from those in the know is to plan early!
Couples should hire a wedding caterer several months before the day of the wedding to ensure they get the person that can provide the services they want.
Eighteen months out is pretty standard for booking a caterer. And keep in mind that in May through November they go pretty quickly.
So, well before your big day, you will want to talk with at least three different caterers near me to compare and contrast their menus, services, pricing, attitude and professionalism before signing on the dotted line.
Prior to making your initial calls to potential caterers, it will help to have established your budget, and have a good idea of the type of reception you want with regard to its size, location and level of formality, as well as an estimate of the size of your guest list.
This will not only help a caterer stay within your budgetary parameters while putting together food selections, but will give them a good idea of the overall feel or aesthetic you want to create.
When interviewing caterers, here are some important things that you will want to know:
Ask if they are accustomed to catering weddings of your size.
Some caterers may specialize in certain types of events and may also prefer to specifically work in certain areas with either large or small venues.
If you are having a small intimate gathering, you may not want a caterer who specializes in large corporate events, as they may not excel in providing the cozy experience you seek.
Likewise, if you have invited 250 of your closest friends to your reception, hiring a caterer who is known for his or her lovely, albeit small events, may overwhelm their capabilities, and in turn underwhelm you and your guests.
Inquire about menus, flexibility and special requests.
Most caterers have standard menus available for events. These can make your food choices easier by providing you with pre-established selections. However, caterers also provide varying levels of flexibility in adapting or changing these menus to meet your specific requests.
For example, if you have a family recipe that you want included at your reception, or you want the caterer to create a special dish for the event, don’t hesitate to ask if this is something that they can do.
There is a much greater focus on the quality of food at weddings. So it’s important to be versatile past doing the old standards of steak and baked stuffed chicken.
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher and halal options are fairly common requests, but make sure your caterer is able to offer a nice selection of these options if this is a requirement at your event.
If you or some of your guests have food allergies, you will need to know that your caterer can make the appropriate accommodations.
Ask about other services.
More than providing you with great food for your big day, most caterers can provide service staff, tableware, bar stock, grills, tables and rentals for outdoor gatherings, as well as coordinating the time line and flow of your reception.
Ask if these services are all inclusive or if they come a la carte, as this could also have an effect on your budget.
Remember, it’s not all about the food. If you don’t have good service, even the most delicious foods can be lackluster, if they are served late, cold, or carelessly by a server whose attitude is neither friendly nor professional.
Ask if the caterer themselves will be present at your reception.
You will want to know if they are familiar with your venue choice or if the location presents any logistical difficulties for them. For example some venues may not have a full kitchen set up, and additional arrangements might have to be made.
For more information, contact Simple Fare Catering.