Until you buy a house together, your wedding is likely to be the most expensive thing you do as a couple. The average wedding costs over $30,000, and food is bound to be the biggest thing on the budget.
Finding a wedding caterer can also be one of the most stressful items to tick off the list unless you’ve chosen a venue that’s going to do it all for you
The last thing you want is to go for a budget-friendly option that causes you embarrassment and stress on your big day. Here are some tips for finding the best wedding caterers to suit your finances as well as your expectations.
1. Work Out the Details
Unless you have friends and relatives in the industry, attempting to arrange the meals for your wedding on your own is a recipe for disaster. You’ve got enough on your plate.
The earlier you find and book a wedding caterer the better. That said, there’s no point in looking for a caterer until you’ve worked out the following details:
Naturally, your wedding budget is the starting point for all your preparations. Be sure to allocate funds for food high on the list and not as an afterthought.
The type of catering you can afford hinges on how many mouths you have to feed. It’s also one of the first questions a wedding caterer is going to ask you. The sooner you get your invitations out, the sooner you’ll have final numbers to work with.
Different venues accommodate different dining styles and some have a list of preferred suppliers. When you’re searching for a place to host your big day, discuss these options with them before you book.
Serving food that fits in with the overall theme of your wedding is always a memorable touch. If you’re throwing a ballroom reception, a set menu or buffet is perfect. Yet this kind of food isn’t always the best choice for an outdoor beach-themed function.
Food trucks are a less formal wedding catering option that is better suited to this kind of wedding.
2. Do Your Research
The first port of call when it comes to finding wedding caterers is the venue itself. It makes sense to get suggestions from the place that’s seen and done it all when it comes to catering in their venue.
Recently married friends can also help with advice and guidance as can personal experience. If you really loved the food at a recent wedding you’ve attended, why not use the same caterer?
3. Important Questions to Ask a Wedding Caterer
There are several things you want to find out before committing to a caterer. These are some of the less obvious ones that are often overlooked:
- Do you have the required licenses to cater my wedding?
- Are there any additional fees for corkage, service, gratuities, etc?
- Will I need to arrange any additional permits for my event?
- Will you provide an onsite catering manager during the event?
- Do they have Plan B for any unforeseen eventualities like rain?
- Can they cater to the needs of guests with specific dietary requirements?
Once you’ve cleared up these issues, you can go on to the more specific items on your checklist.
4. Discuss Your Options
Be open-minded when it comes to choosing your menu options. Ask to see all their proposals, even if you have your heart set on a particular catering style. You could stumble upon a unique and cost-effective menu that you’d never considered.
Find out what’s included in their service and ask if they can provide additional items like a wedding cake.
5. Ask to See A Typical Contract
Before you meet go to all the trouble of meeting with a caterer, ask to see a sample of one of their contracts. This gives you time to go through the fine print at your leisure.
This way, when you finally meet with their consultant, you’ll have a clear idea of their expectations and any questions you’d like to ask.
6. Schedule an Interview
Thanks to all the steps above you should have a good idea of which caterer is likely to fit the bill.
Arrange to meet with them at the venue to discuss the finer details of your wedding. This way, if they have any questions about the facilities available, the answers will be right there.
This in-person interview will give you a good idea of their efficiency and abilities. It also allows you to gauge whether you feel comfortable working with them or not.
Before you leave, ask them to provide a rough outline in writing of everything you’ve discussed as well as a quotation.
7. Do Some More Research
Don’t take everything at face value. Ask the caterer if you contact some of their previous clients for a reference. This will also give you a chance to discuss anything you haven’t thought of.
Online reviews are a great way to get more information about wedding caterers service and performance on the day. If you do come across a negative review, pay attention to how the caterer resolved the issue, if at all.
8. Don’t Limit Your Options
You can never have too many choices when it comes to wedding caterers. Get proposals from as many providers as you can and compare costs.
It’s important to remember that cost isn’t everything. You should also take into account how promptly and courteously the catering company answered your queries, and whether they considered your needs first.
9. Eat the Food First
Once you’ve compiled a final shortlist of three caterers, make arrangements to sample your chosen menu before you commit. Be sure to check that you’ll have the same team cooking for you on the day.
After that it really comes down to whose food you enjoyed the most, it’s your special day after all.
A Final Word on Wedding Planning
Having the right wedding caterer on your side makes planning a breeze. You can relax, confident that they’ll take it all in their stride.
That leaves you free to focus on the more exciting aspects of your upcoming nuptials, like planning your honeymoon. Check out our blog for some destination inspiration.