The guests at your wedding will remember lots of things about your big day – the wedding dress, the speeches, your venue– but what matters most to many of them is the food! And it will matter to you too, with the catering likely to be the biggest expense for your wedding. So that you and your guests aren’t left, quite literally, with a bitter taste in their mouths, here’s our 10 tips to helping you choose your wedding caterer.
DIY catering- only if you must
If you have more then 20 people attending your wedding, then we'd suggest getting a professional caterer involved. You won't be able to fully enjoy the experience of your wedding with your family and friends if everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off, worried about the other guests being fed and taken care of.
Then there are all those dirty dishes afterwards! If you are thinking of doing the catering yourself, then at least get some staff to serve and clear up. It will be money well spent and will allow you and your guests the chance to relax and enjoy together without the worry of clean up.
Try and negotiate on cost
As much as you might like to treat your guests to a feast fit for a king (or wedding princess), it is a fact that cost is a factor for most couples. How much it will cost is quite possibly the first thing you will look at and you'll of course want to get value for your money but also quality. Start with your budget and see which caterers fit. It's possible that you can negotiate with some caterers as quotes are usually "cost per head", or you could substitute something in the menu.
Source your own?
Many venues provide their own catering services or are able to recommend caterers for you. Don't feel pressured by a venue. Only if you think the venue is perfect for your reception should you be prepared to compromise on the food and choices they provide. If you are using external caterers then get a few quotes in writing and see if you can sample their dishes. Remember that caterers tend to get booked up months in advance so you'll need to be quick with decisions to ensure you have the caterer you want.
What food options are available?
What food options are available?
When choosing a caterer you need to know what food options they can supply. If it's just the basics and you want to consider something a little more adventurous then look elsewhere, maybe beyond regular wedding caterers. A wide and varied menu is usually preferred, especially on that caters for special dietary requirements. If they don't have what you want, then look elsewhere.
Who supplies the silverware and other utensils?
It would be ideal fi your venue or external caterers were able to supply the necessary china, glassware and utensils. If rental equipment is necessary then you need to ascertain who will be responsible for its delivery, cleaning and return. Also don't overlook the cake stand and knife as these need to be factored in too. No one wants to cut their wedding cake with a butter knife! Serving staff - make sure the staff are fit for the task of waiting on wedding reception tables. The caterer's team will generally know the food and service well. the safe (but more costly option) is to go for the caterers and their own staff. Make sure you know the ratio of staff to guests and that the staff will come suitably dressed. Bear in mind that, as well as the catering staff, you may need additional people such as a toastmaster to announce guests and run the proceedings, plus waiters and waitresses to keep guests supplied with drinks.
The Wedding Cake
To minimise stress and perhaps save you money you may want all the food to be provided by one caterer, and that includes the wedding cake. Check with your potential caterers whether their services can include wedding cake or if they are connected with a cake supplier. Ask to see photo samples of wedding cakes provided for previous weddings to give you an idea of what you'll be getting.
Meals on wheels
You need to consider how close the caterers are to your venue. If the food is being prepared miles away from your wedding reception then you may be wondering what condition it is going to be in by the time it arrives. If it's some distance it could be that your guests arrive long before the food does, and that is unlikely to go down too well. The caterer should plan out how long it will take them to get to the reception and how they will transport and prepare the food. If it is not being made onsite the potential for mishaps is greater.
Consider references and reliability
Don't just take the caterers' word, if any are unable or unwilling to provide proof of where they source their ingredients then you should have concerns. Check their references from those who have previously employed their services. Bear in mind that some people can be incredibly fussy so take what other couples say with a pinch of salt. A personal recommendation from someone you really trust is the best way to go.
Dink to the happy couple
A highlight for many of the guests is the drink on offer and many a wedding will be judged on how freely the drinks flow. Consider which drinks will be served and if you will be providing drinks on the tables for your guests during the reception. Maybe your venue allows you to supply your own alcohol for a fee, for which they may well provide the required glassware and refrigeration. If there's a bar, it's important to know what time it will serve and you need to decide whether you're going to foot the bill or whether guests need to fend for themselves (which is a hot topic in itself)