Your wedding is likely one of the most important days of your life. You’ve spent years picking the groom, not to mention the hours dedicated to deciding on the dress, the venue, the flowers and the photographer, so you should be equally as thorough when choosing the caterer. After all, a delicious meal—in addition to celebrating eternal love—is a major draw for many wedding guests.
The type and style of food sets the tone for your wedding, and you want to be sure it tastes great, too.
Here are a few tips to help you with choosing a wedding caterer that’s perfect for you.
1. Determine Your Budget
Before you can begin your search in earnest, you’ll need to determine your budget. Do some preliminary research to see what the typical cost of a wedding caterer is in your area and set your budget from there. When interviewing wedding caterers, be sure to ask what is included in their fee—are table linens, menu design and service provided, for instance. If you’re on a tight budget, tell the caterer your limitations to determine if they can create a package that is right for you.
2. Decide on a Style
Depending on your budget, you may gravitate toward one dining style over another. After all, when it comes to weddings, there are quite a few to choose from, including butler passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktail hour, plated sit-down dinners, tasting menus, and buffets, among others. If you know your budget and the style you’re after, this will also make narrowing down potential caterers quite a bit quicker.
3. Start Searching Early to Ensure Availability
Once you’ve set your budget, and know more or less what style and type of catering package you’re looking for, start searching. Caterers are often booked many months—even years—in advance, so locking in a caterer for your date and time should be a high priority.
4. Ask Your Venue for Suggestions
When choosing a wedding caterer, a great option to get going is to ask your venue for catering suggestions, as most venues will have a list of preferred vendors. However, if none of the caterers on the list strike your fancy, you may want to ask your venue if they have certain requirements that caterers on their premises must meet.
Many venues will want to review and approve of the caterer, often requiring proof of certain certificates or licenses before they will allow a caterer to work on their property. You’ll want to know what these are as you interview companies.
5. Ask for Referrals from Friends
Another great option to kick off your search is to ask friends, family members and coworkers who have hosted a catered event in your area for referrals. They can share their experiences of working with their caterer, as well as firsthand knowledge of how the food and service turned out at their events.
6. Read Online Reviews
Finally, if you’re struggling to narrow down your selection, reading online reviews is an excellent way to get a feel for how a caterer has performed in the past. Most reputable caterers will be listed on professional wedding websites, like The Knot. You can also check out Facebook and Yelp with customer reviews that can help you gauge the level and quality of food and service.
7. Schedule a Tasting With Your Top Three
Now that you’ve done your research and determined your shortlist for wedding caterers, the fun really begins. Now you get to eat! After all, you want to make sure their food lives up to the hype. A tasting also gives you the opportunity to more fully discern whether the quality, style and presentation of their food meets your expectations. Additionally, a tasting prior to finalizing a contract gives you the opportunity to discuss how your own ideas can be worked into their existing menus.
8. Sign the Contract
Once you’ve completed your tastings, and picked your wedding caterer, the last step is to sign your contract. Before signing, you should see a finalized proposal that includes the total cost of the food and drink, which encompasses the menu, catering staff, linens and any additional fees. When you’re happy with the proposal, draw up the final contract, sign and let the caterer take it from there!
If you’re just starting your journey in choosing a wedding caterer, my team and I would love to help make your wedding day one to remember. Connect with Made by Meg today to see how we can accommodate your budget and wedding style.