At any wedding reception, the food is front and center. So, when it comes to planning your wedding, the decision that will most impact your wedding day is your choice of caterer. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice possible.
These first few tips involve doing your homework before hand and clarifying your vision of how you want your day to go.
1) Know What Kind of Meal You Want
Before you approach a caterer, have a good idea of the exact service you want them to provide.
Some engaged couples want a buffet of finger foods that guests can enjoy until it's time for cake, while others want a dinner buffet. Still others want a formal plated dinner served at the reception. Having a good idea of what you want going in, will make it easier to sort out the caterers you want to work with from the ones you don't.
2) Know Your Theme
This goes hand in hand with the first tip, but know the style of food you want to serve your guests. Is the caterer a match for the style of food you want to serve.
Ask if your caterer's able to serve more than one style of cuisine. We see this become an issue when brides and grooms from different backgrounds or cultures decide to tie the knot.
If that's the case for you, be sure to verify that your caterer will be versatile enough to provide foods that suit the tastes of both families.
3) The Main Question:
How close can they get to fulfilling your vision for the day?
This is the main question, of course, and everything else will revolve around this. Once your caterer has an idea of the type of service you want, they can then provide you with additional options if budget becomes an issue.
Here, though are some questions you might not think to ask, but should.
4) Can the Caterer Provide Meals for Guests with Special Dietary Needs
The chances are good that your wedding guests will have a variety of dietary concerns. This will especially come into play if you're serving a buffet meal or plated dinner.
Ask your caterer if they'll be flexible enough to meet those concerns, and how much extra they'll charge you for doing that.
It's important that you let your caterer know about these dietary requests as far in advance as possible to give them enough time to come up with viable options.
5) What About Meals for Children?
If you anticipate having a lot of children at your reception, ask about kid-friendly food options. Also, ask if these meals will be provided at the same cost as the other meals or less.
6) Do They Provide Meals for Other Professionals Working the Wedding?
Most caterers include meals for these people, but there's usually a limit without actually adding more people to the headcount. For example, the catering company may usually will prepare a few extra meals for the DJ, wedding planner, etc.
7) What About the Wedding Cake?
Will your caterer provide the wedding cake for your wedding or will that be from a different company. Whatever the situation, find out in advance if your caterer includes cake cutting as part of their service or if you're going to have to call on family members and friends for help.
While we always include cake cutting service for free here at 360, some companies will charge an additional fee, so be sure to find out in advance.
8) What Kind of Staffing Do They Provide and What Exactly Do They Do?
Mostly, the catering staff is going to serve and clear food and dishes. They will not set up or decorate the tables or clean dishes at the end of the night. If you've rented serving dishes or China from a rental company, all of that will go back to them dirty so they can clean it in-house.
9) Are They Able to Provide Alcohol Service?
The State of Texas requires that bartenders and waitstaff who serve alcohol are TABC certified.
Most commonly, the catering company just supplies the staffing to run the bar. It's important to make sure they all have their certifications.
On certain occasions companies, for an additional fee, go through the process of setting up and stocking the bar, but the bride and groom are responsible for buying the liquor.
It's very important to communicate clearly with the caterer about your bar/bartending needs and make sure that all your bases are covered.
10) Are There Any Hidden Fees?
It's always good to find out if there are any additional fees that you might not be anticipating.
As we mentioned earlier, the cake cutting fee is one of those fees that many catering companies tack on to the end of the bill. Other ones might be unnecessary drop off or pick up fees.
11) Is Their Legal House in Order?
Make sure the caterer has their bases covered on the legal end. This includes verifying that they have the proper insurance, food handling, and alcohol server certifications. Also, you can request to see their health department inspections to verify that they maintain a safe and healthy cooking environment.
Hopefully this brief guide will give you the direction you need to hire the best caterer possible for your party. Of course, should you ever need assistance with a wedding, social or business event, we're just a phone call away at 817-714-8996!