It can be just as difficult picking the food for your wedding as it can be choosing your wedding dress. Here are some tips on choosing the right one for you: Beer or Wine? Appetizers or Aperitifs? Beef or Chicken? There are so many choices out there for party food and beverages, so it’s usually easier to just hire catering companies for your event.
Even then, however, the number of options and decisions to make adds up quickly, so you want to be sure to find great event and wedding caterers who can help guide you through the process.
How to find amazing wedding caterers? Start with these basic questions to ask when hiring a wedding catering service to help you find the best catering services in any city.
Hiring a Wedding Catering Service: Tips
Some wedding venues either provide service or they offer you a list of approved companies. You should always check with your venue first to make sure that the catering service you wish to hire is able to work at the venue. You can check out some wedding venues here.
2. Determine the Type of Caterer You Want
Pick out which type of catering service you want so you can research more specifically. If you want a fine dining experience, a buffet experience, a grilling or outdoor cooking experience, etc., make sure you are specific that way you can find a caterer who specializes in that experience.
3. Determine Your Budget
You should always keep in mind the amount you want to spend on the catering for your wedding. Once you have that figure in mind, it will make it easier to pick out a catering company/caterer that fits your budget. It will also be easier to talk to your caterer about different decisions once you know exactly how much you want to pay for them. Try making an excel spreadsheet to keep track of your budget that way you can email it to your caterer so they can be on the same page.
4. Important Questions
Before you go in to interview wedding caterers, create a list of important questions with answers that will either make or break the deal for you. Some example questions would be: will you provide bar services? If they don’t then you’ll be looking at going to the liquor stores and winery shops yourself. (If your wedding venue is located at a winery then you won’t have to worry about visiting a liquor store because oftentimes wineries offer drinks). Does the price they’re showing you include everything from tips to clean up fees? Where does the leftover food go? How will the food be presented?
5. Research Different Online Reviews
You should always be researching online reviews as that is where customers are sharing their experiences and knowledge about the caterer you are interested in. Online reviews are important because they help you easily assess the benefits of that specific caterer, or problems that that caterer has had.
6. In Person
Always meet people you’re interested in hiring in person. In this modern day and age sometimes we forget that you can’t always get a feel for someone through email or from their website. So set up appointments to meet your caterer in person before you sign a contract. This is also a good time to ask about a tasting menu. Many caterers offer that to the bride and groom.
7. Schedule a Tasting
You should always try to schedule a tasting to see if you like the flavors your caterer has in mind, and to see if you like the baker that bakes the tasting samples.
You should make sure that the wedding caterers making your party food are licensed. If you hire someone who is not licensed to work with the food you could run the risk of someone getting food poisoning or much worse.
9. Dressing Up
Will the servers be wearing uniforms? Unless you’re having an extremely laid back wedding, servers without a uniform sporting the latest shabby chic style will ruin the overall appearance of your wedding (unless your theme is shabby chic).
If there will be children present at your wedding; don’t forget that most of them won’t like the “adult food” that is being served. See if the caterers will offer something like chicken fingers or other finger food that children are certain to enjoy.
11. Check Availability
First, you should make sure that the catering services you want are available before you get ahead of yourself. Many caterers are extremely busy in the summer and spring months so start researching and meeting with prospective catering companies at least nine months before your wedding. Some venues have a list of preferred caterers and suppliers so once you choose your venue start your catering search there!
12. Be on the Same Page
Make sure you tell your caterer what you expect so they understand what you are looking for and there are no surprises on your wedding day. You can also check out social media for different wedding caterers so you can see other’s experiences.
13. How Much to Tip
Tipping is a big aspect when you are having a wedding, and if your wedding caterers’ tip is not included you should tip around 15 to 20 percent of your total food and drink fee based on labor. Typically gratuity is included, but you should make sure in order to keep everyone satisfied.
14. What Services Should Be Included
As mentioned above, a tasting of party food is commonly included when choosing the right caterer for your wedding. Commonly, caterers will prepare the food, arrive early, handle distribution of food, cut the cake, clean up and return retails.
15. Additional Costs
Based on what you are asking of your caterer you will pay more based on labor, for example, if you ask for passed appetizers. You may also get charged a dollar or more for corking fees and a dollar per slice when cutting the cake.
16. Connect Your Caterer with your Other Wedding Coordinators
Make sure your caterer has contact with anyone who is also apart of putting your wedding together. They will need to be working around each other’s schedules so they do not clash or interfere with the each other’s jobs.
Questions to Ask
17. Do You have any References or a Portfolio?
Always ask for references or to see their portfolio. Similarly to a hairdresser or a tattoo artist, you should see what type of caterer they are and what style of work they do. You can also look on social media to see their other clients. You should look for someone who fits your taste and style in order to make your special day exactly how you want it.
18. What’s Included in the Price?
Are you simply paying for food and drink or are you paying for the plates, glasses, linen, kitchen equipment and wait staff? Check for any hidden fees and ask about what all is included in their price.
19. Do You Have Any Samples?
As well as how good the food looks, you want to see how good it tastes. Some caterers, like some wineries, liquor stores, or winery shops, offer some free samples, whereas others include samples in your fees.
20. Do You Have Any Specialties?
Any chef or caterer with any experience is going to have a specialty in some kind of food whether that is seafood or ethnic foods. Check with any companies you are considering and see what kind of food they do the best.
21. Can You Work Around Dietary Restrictions?
You may have guests who have food allergies or other problems. If that is the case, your caterer needs to be able to work around that. If they don’t know how to cook gluten free and you have guests that have celiac disease, then you’re not going to want them to cook for your event.
22. Where Will the Food be Prepared?
Can the cook work on-site, or will everything be delivered? It may even be the case that you have to arrange for it to be picked up along with beverages from wineries and liquor stores.
23. Will You have Your Own Waitstaff or Will I be in Charge of Hiring Them?
It is important to know if the caterer will provide their own waiters or if you need to hire your own. Of course this all depends on if you want waiters in the first place.
24. Can You Handle Last Minute Requests?
Uncle Joe and his 10 kids might suddenly decide to show up or maybe Aunt Betty is allergic to beef. Whatever the case is, you want to know that your caterer can handle last minute requests and changes.
25. Is there a Backup Plan Incase Someone Gets Sick?
In the world of Covid, it is important that your caterer has a backup plan in case they or their workers get sick. Once hired, your caterer should set up this backup plan and you should check up with them to make sure they have this plan ready to go.
26. Will I be Left Cleaning Up?
The last thing you want after a celebration is to have to clear the plates, throw away the trash and take care of the tables. Ask if this is included in the wedding caterer’s services, or if there is an additional fee.
27. What Other Companies are They Aligned With?
If you’re looking to have an open bar, see from where the caterer will be getting the alcohol. You want to approve of the drink choices.
28. How Will the Display be Presented?
In addition to delicious food and drinks from wineries, you will want the presentation to be appealing. In order to visualize your venue and setting, you need to know what linens the caterer will use. Will they be white cloth? Will they reach the floor as required?
There is a lot that goes into finding the right catering services for your wedding. If you want your big day to be as flawless as possible, following our guide on hiring a wedding catering service will be your best bet!
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