A wedding is a glorious life event, with every moment a memory shared with family and friends. But it can also be quite stressful if you're tackling the planning alone, so it's important to find professionals you can trust to help you.
One major part of the day is food service, hiring someone who already knows everything you need to know about wedding catering services. A good caterer can handle all of it, whether you're planning a sit-down meal or a cocktail party style even with appetizers. One thing is certain: attempting to play the role of caterer in your wedding reception is not for the faint of heart. It's a lot of work and that's not something you want to fret about on that special day.
Consider what you're looking for in a caterer. After you've set the date, developed an estimated guest count, selected a venue and decided on how much you want to spend on food, you're ready to begin the search. Based on your budget, you've likely decided how important is catering in your wedding. Your choice of caterer also could be limited by the venue you've chosen, so determine if they require use of their service.
Determine what type of food service you'll want for your reception. The more traditional seated meal also can be expensive. While it's wonderful, there are many other options you can consider. A family-style service can provide food in large platters for each table for guests to share, reducing the need for extra plating and servers. You can also consider the buffet meal which offers a similar self-serve style with even fewer servers necessary, which is another way to save money while offering guests a meal.
The least expensive option that many brides and grooms choose is a cocktail style reception with heavy appetizers. There is no per-plate charge and fewer servers required, so you can splurge on tastier appetizer options if you want to give your guests more food.
Based on these choices, you can narrow your selection of caterers using internet research, referrals from friends and family, and recommendations from others helping you plan your wedding who know the area. There are a few things you'll want to know when you meet with prospective caterers.
First, taste samples of their food. It's important that you like it. It is your wedding, after all. And make sure that the chef who prepared your samples will be the one responsible for your wedding day service. It's also important to know how they plan for emergencies or the unexpected. For example, ask what they do if their chef is unable that day to work. Ask what contingencies they have for bad weather if a reception is planned outdoors. Asking how they handle the unexpected can give you a sense of comfort and ensure that you can truly trust them with a major part of your wedding day.
Second, when you meet with the caterer, make sure you have a sense that they will serve your needs. You don't want them to be so rigid that they offer only a limited choice of options that doesn't fit your interests or that they don't seem truly committed to helping you make the day special. Also, ask them for references from others who have used them for wedding receptions or search for reviews they may have from past clients online. This can help you get a sense of what to expect as well.
You'll also want to know if you can provide your own alcohol and your own cakes, assuming that you have other vendors in mind that you would prefer handle these. Or perhaps you have access to alcohol and want to supply this yourself for your reception. Some caterers will want to handle these exclusively as part of their arrangement, so determine this early and avoid any surprises.
You may be looking for a caterer who handles everything, from rentals to all the cleanup. If you need this, make sure your caterer is equipped to handle those tasks and that they provide a complete list of all charges you can expect. You shouldn't be surprised by special service fees like a cake cutting or corkage charge.
One of the best decisions you can make is to hire the right caterer to help make your wedding day grand. Spend time on this decision, and you'll be able to focus on making memories that day.