Your Ultimate Checklist for Choosing a Wedding Caterer
Good food is a big deal when it comes to weddings… Making the right or wrong choices can mean the difference between guests remembering your day fondly for years to come, and your day becoming a terrible ‘bad food’ legend that guests will never forget! With this in mind, it is vital to get your food choice right and pick the wedding caterer that will work for you. When deciding who will cater your wedding there are a number of questions you’ll need to ask both yourself and the potential supplier. Here, we’ve rounded up the top tips and advice on how to pick a wedding caterer.
Tell Them What You Want, What You Really, Really Want
As with anything to do with your big day, the very first question to ask is: What do you really want? It’s time to ask yourself a whole load of questions, some of which can be both easier and harder than you think. What do you and your partner like to eat? What style of food do you dream of having at your wedding? Do you like whole and hearty or light and fresh (or maybe a mix of both?!) There are also decisions to be made about how many meals you want at your wedding. Traditionally canapes are served, as well as a wedding breakfast or evening buffet, but there are no real rules. It all depends on what kind of format you’re going for. Is your wedding going to be relaxed and informal (think buffet/BBQ/finger food) or formal and classic (think 3-course sit down meal with all the trimmings)? Get all your ideas and thoughts down on paper, no matter how outlandish! The next step will be to whittle down what is realistic depending on your budget. Start with picking the food you love and work from there. But remember, while it’s your wedding day you need to make sure you’re catering to all the lovely people you invite. At this point, it’s important to consider whether any of your guests will have any food intolerances, allergies, or dietary requirements. Whether they have a severe nut allergy or are vegan, you’ll need to cater to every guest.
Think About the Logistics of It All
When are you getting married? The date of your special day could really reflect the food that you serve. For example, in autumn you might look to serve up something very different than what you would want in the spring. You need to be researching and meeting caterers at least nine months before your wedding to make sure that you have enough time to book them and ensure they have availability. Check that your caterer can provide the choices that you want before moving forward. Make sure to research their website thoroughly. Discuss whether the caterer will be cooking offsite or at the wedding venue. Not all venues have kitchens on site or that are available for you to use. Think about numbers, because how many people are attending your wedding could change the caterers that are able to work with you. Also, you need to be checking the price per head (and always remember to see if they include VAT!) and whether there are any added extras thrown in. Some suppliers will include tableware and linen hire with their quotes, for example, so make sure you look through to see if that’s an option.
Always Try Before You Buy
Not only is this the best part of choosing a wedding caterer but it is also a really crucial part of the process. While there are a number of different companies out there to choose from – all with stellar reviews, amazing photography and lots of marketing to back them up – the proof of a caterer’s excellence really is in the pudding. As soon as you’ve made your mind up on which caterer you want for your wedding make sure you can try the food before your big day. Sampling the food is key to ensure you get exactly what you want and ensure you have made the right choice. Plus, if your caterer is based at your venue, then you get to sample the food in your wedding surroundings and see how the service works. This is vital to a smooth dining experience on your wedding day.
The Ultimate Checklist for Choosing a Wedding Caterer
When interviewing caterers, there are some key questions that you have to ask. This list is pretty extensive and should cover all your bases when it comes to questions!
- What packages does the caterer offer and what is included as standard?
- Are the menus flexible and can they accommodate special dietary requirements?
- Can they accommodate children?
- How soon can you have a menu tasting?
- What kind of kitchen facilities will they need?
- Are they able to work creatively within your budget?
Staff and Resources
- Are the serving staff included in the price and what is the ratio of staff to guests?
- Have you catered a wedding at our chosen venue before?
- How many other bookings do you have for the same day?
- Will my contact at your company be at the reception to oversee the event?
- Can your staff a cloakroom? Hand out favours? Can they place name cards for seating arrangements?
Equipment, Food & Drink
- Can you provide any/all necessary china, glassware and utensils?
- If rental equipment is necessary, who is responsible for its delivery, cleaning and return?
- When is the final guest count due? Can you accommodate unexpected guests? What is the additional charge?
- Will you supply the cake stand and knife?
- What brands of beverages will be served, can we supply our own alcohol and is there a corkage fee?
- Will you supply extra bar stock like ice, fresh lemons/limes etc, and refrigeration equipment?
- Do you have the correct glassware for the beverages we’ll be serving?
Booking and Payment
- Is a service charge included or are gratuities optional? Is there a charge for breakage?
- What is the cancellation/postponement policy?
- How far in advance do I need to book?
- How much is the deposit to secure the date and when does it need paying by?
- Is VAT included in the price?