Your wedding reception is the biggest party you will ever throw so you want to make sure you do it right. Choosing the right caterer is essential. Take it from me not all caterers are created equal.
Here is a list of tips to help your choose a great caterer
1. Get Referrals
A good place to start looking for a caterer is right in your own backyard. Ask your married friends, family and coworkers for referrals. You can also look in your local phone book. When you’re interviewing your caterer, ask him/her to supply you with references. If the caterer refuses your request, it may be a good idea to leave and go onto the next interview.
2. Licenses & liability Insurance
Make sure the caterer is licensed in your state and has liability insurance. Insurance is very important in case one of your guests gets food poisoning (God Forbid!), chips a tooth, or is involved in an accident after leaving your reception. If the caterer does not have insurance, ask him/her if you can buy some.
The main thing you must consider is your budget. Before meeting with your caterer know exactly how much money you can afford to spend. A good caterer is creative and will gladly work with you to make sure you can stick to that budget. Do not let the caterer talk you into something you cannot afford as you do not need the extra stress worrying about how to pay for it.
Is your caterer flexible? Does he/she listen to your ideas and concerns. Will the caterer serve special food for guests with dietary restrictions such as vegetarians, and people with food allergies. Would the caterer be willing to cook a special family dish?
5. Personality & Style
Do you feel comfortable with the caterer. Do you have similar tastes? Beware of the know-it-all caterer who tries to talk you into something you do not want.
Be careful! The caterer will try to sell you the most expensive meal plans. Ask how much each plate will cost. How much food each person will receive. Will you serve hors d’oeuvres and what is the cost?
(Money Saving Tip: Tray pass hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour and serve a lighter meal.)
Don’t forget to ask about your wedding cake. Will they make one for you or do you need to bring your own. If the caterer is making the cake, do not assume they know how. Ask if they have any sample cakes you can see. Also you should show the caterer pictures of any cakes you like.
7. Taste Testing the Food
Most caterers will allow you to sample the planned dishes. This is very important as you do not want any surprises at your reception. Also, with any luck you may be able to taste a sample of your wedding cake.
Does the caterer provide waiter and waitresses. You will need approximately one server for every ten guests. Also you should ask what kind of clothes the waitstaff wears. Are you allowed to make wardrobe requests?
When seeking a caterer you also want to know what types of decorations are offered – tableskirts, linens, centerpieces etc.
10. Place Settings
What does the place setting consist of. A good caterer will gladly show you what the plates, glasses and silverware will look like.
What about beverages. How will you be charged? By consumption or by how many bottles are opened. Exactly what are the charges per bottle. And what are the brands to be served. How many bottles will be served? Will you be refunded money for any unopened bottles?
Money Saving Tips: To reduce your bar tab only serve, beer, wine and soft drinks. You may also consider offering your guests an open bar for the first hour or two and then making them pay for their own drinks.
12. Little extra fees
Be careful of all the little extra fees the caterer will throw at you.
- Servers, waiters & hostess fees (plus gratuities)
- Tableware/Linen Fees
- Bartender & Bar Fees & (plus gratuities)
- Overtime fees
- Cancellation fees ~ Make sure you have the cancellation policy in writing!
- Extra food fees
- Policy on champagne. Are there any pouring fees?
- Cutting Cake fees
To make sure you are not charged for any hidden fees Read your caterer’s contract very carefully before signing it. Make sure that all the items mentioned above are clearly stated. If they are not listed, have them written in before signing. Also discuss a payment schedule with your caterer. Never pay for everything in advance. With a little preparation, you can stick to your budget and have the party of your dreams!