There are many pitfalls to avoid when choosing a caterer. There are many issues that can be caused by the quality of the caterer. Others are simply misunderstandings. Most negative issues can be avoided by proper planning and paying attention to details.
These ten tips will help you find a top-quality caterer. They will also ensure that you receive the service and food you expect.
Make appointments with at least three different caterers
When you set up appointments, make sure to keep track of the time it takes for your email or phone call to be returned. Expect to hear back from us within one business day. Don’t schedule an appointment if it takes longer than one business day. What happens if you call them with a question or important information in the days before your wedding and they don’t respond immediately? No. Be sure to discuss your preferences and limitations with your spouse before you arrange your meetings.
Take photos of past work by each caterer
Do not be deceived into believing they don’t have photos. They will. Look at the way they present their food to you. Are they creative? Are the colors vibrant? Is it adorned with flowers and garnishes, or just laid on a platter?
Ask for sample menus
Most menus will include a variety of sit-down options, as well as hors-d’oeuvres. You should always ask for prices if they aren’t included. This will help you determine what options fit within your budget. While most caterers are happy to create custom menus for your event, they should also be able to provide you with basic pricing information for certain items.
Be open and honest about your budget
Before you meet with caterers, it is a good idea to have a budget in place. If you don’t have a budget, you can give caterers a range of guests that you feel comfortable with. There are many caterers out there. One caterer may charge $30 per person, but the menu offered by another can vary significantly. Make sure you’re specific about your preferences and any dietary restrictions.
Ask for a proposal that includes several menu options
Also, make sure that the proposal includes costs for liquor and any rental fees. You can ask the caterer to explain any parts you don’t understand. Don’t assume that the proposal will include china, linens, or glassware. To ensure that you’re comparing apples to apples, it is important to verify details with each caterer. Avoid caterers who promise to send you a proposal but then fail to deliver it.
Check to make sure you have the minimums in writing
You may be required to guarantee a minimum amount of food by some caterers. This is usually a set number or total dollar. Even though you have only 100 guests, this could mean that you may end up paying for 150 meals. You can negotiate this amount with some caterers. If one of the three you talk to has a minimum you cannot meet, you should go another route. Check to see if the cost of the wedding cake is included in the $$ minimum. Sometimes, this will make things more expensive or even easier to manage. Ask about the reverse situation. What happens if more guests show up than you expected? Most caterers will cook 5-10% more than what is ordered. But make sure to verify.
Visit one of their weddings and pick the proposal that you like best.
Before you make any final decisions, ask them if they would allow you to visit their wedding. Observe the setup and the staff’s attire and organization.
Arrange for a tasting
Food will cost you thousands of dollars. A good caterer will be able to arrange a tasting. It may be that you can combine this with a trip to a wedding, as described in #7. Take photos of the food while you’re at the tasting. These photos should be kept safe until the wedding, in case your caterer changes. Show the staff the photos if this happens.