Choosing the right caterer for your wedding can be quite daunting. The meal itself may be your biggest expense for your wedding day, so it’s important to ensure you get the most value for your money. While each couple will have their own checklists for a wedding reception catering, here are some standard tips that anyone can use on how to find the best caterer:
Book a Caterer Early
While most newly engaged couples will want to get engagement pictures taken right away, the most important detail to nail down right away will be catering. The best caterers are booked many months in advance. Therefore, if the quality of the food at your wedding is important to you, booking a caterer should be at the top of your list.
Find the Caterer’s Specialization
While some caterers will try to say that they can prepare all kinds of food equally well, it’s most likely that every caterer has a specialty or certain limitations. For example, if a vegetarian menu is important to you, beware a caterer that shows a sample menu that focuses mostly on main courses that are steak, pork, or chicken. A caterer with a vegetarian specialty will most likely make better meals for the money.
Get a Professional Recommendation
Those working in the wedding industry could be experts on finding the best wedding catering since they usually attend a lot of weddings and industry events where experienced pros will discuss who is the best in your area for flowers, photography, or food. If you already lined up a photographer, ask him/her which caterer is worth checking out.
Learn What the Caterer Provides
The list of items required for catering a wedding can be quite daunting, as caterers provide the linens, silverware, plates, glasses, and any condiments. Make sure your caterer provides everything you need and inspect the quality of their plates and table cloths to make sure they are a high enough quality.
Learn about the Caterer’s Staff
You typically want a caterer who can provide all of the wait staff necessary for the event rather than relying on coordinating with the staff at your wedding reception’s venue. The caterer’s staff will know where to find what you need and how to make adjustments throughout the event.
In addition, some caterers provide an event organization who will pay attention to the flow of the event and coordinate the arrival of appetizer’s, the main course, and the cake accordingly. Without someone in charge of the event, the wait staff could either move too fast or too slow, resulting in either half eaten meals or cold food. While you may want to hire your own wedding planner to manage the details of the day, a caterer with a reliable coordinator may provide all that you need for an ideal reception.
Does the Caterer Work with Fresh Food?
The quality and the cost of your meal will fluctuate in large part depending on whether your cater works with fresh or frozen food. While some frozen food may be hard to avoid when providing a meal of this size, you may be able to find a caterer who can provide a higher quality meal for the price if you eliminate those that work with frozen food.
Ask for Pictures of Past Events
You’ll get a better idea of your caterer’s presentation and attention to detail by asking for pictures of past events. Look for the way buffet tables are set up, how the food is plated, and how the staff is dressed in order to get a sense of what your event will be like.
This article was contributed by Ed Quinn for Tasteful Events to ease the process of wedding planning for catering.