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Choosing Your Wedding Caterer

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This is a big element of the wedding budget, for some weddings the catering and the venue costs run into thousands of pounds, catering costs of above £20,000 are not untypical. Hence it is important that you get this element right and also need to make sure that you have the caterer that meets with your needs. Remember if they do not get the food right, the last thing you will get from your guests is probably a quick exit and a trip to the local Kentucky.

We have emphasised the above point since majority of wedding service providers take full payment of all the costs before the event. Therefore to claim back any costs for a botched service is very unlikely to the reimbursed. It is here that I would also suggest that you look to taking out an event insurance to cover you against any unexpected situations.

The following is a set of questions you need to ask your wedding caterer prior to booking them and also what you need to be aware off and doing.  For example, the tasting should be done at one of their actual weddings where they are catering. It is here that you will get a true taste of their food where they are preparing and cooking the food for the wedding at the venue.


Does the caterer specialise in certain types of food or service?  They should provide you with sample menus to review. Trying to find a wedding caterer who can make a memorable meal.  My barbecues are still talked about, which is seven years later.

Can the caterer arrange for a tasting of the specific foods you are interested in prior to hiring?  They should do this without question if they are a serious caterer.  If not then do you really want to use them?

What is the caterer’s average price range? Are costs itemised depending on the foods you choose, or is there an all-inclusive flat rate? What would that include (linens, tax, and gratuity)? Does the caterer have printed price sheets for food selections? Make sure there’s room in your wedding budget.

How involved is the caterer in a typical reception?  Do they work like a wedding coordinator or banquet manager, for example, cueing the band, telling the couple when to cut the cake, adjusting the schedule if guests don’t seem ready to sit down to dinner? If this is not what they do then we suggest that you find someone to fill this role. Try thinking about hiring a wedding coordinator.

Will the caterer provide tables, chairs, plates, table linens, silverware, salt-and-pepper shakers, and more? Ask to see these items to make sure they are acceptable. Do you have to rent tables, place settings, or other equipment? Or will they arrange for the rentals? If not, find wedding rentals in your area.

Who is the main contact?  Will the same person you work with when planning your catering also oversee meal service on the day of the wedding? If not then you want to get clear statement from them who that person and he should not be the head chef.  The chef’s job is to monitor the cooking!

Will the caterer work any other weddings on the same weekend, the same day, or at the same time as yours?  You want to be sure they will devote sufficient attention to you. You may want to pass on a smaller outfit who indicates they have another job or two scheduled for that day.  This is important and you don’t want a to have a firm that is not geared up to handling multiple events and could be over committing themselves.  This could spell disaster for you.

Does the caterer handle all table settings?  Will they put out place cards and favors? I would urge that you get the caterer to do this.  This will make your life lot easier and will save you lots of time during the planning stages since you are only dealing with a single company.

Will the caterer provide waiting staff?  How many would they recommend for the size of your wedding? What will the waiting staff wear? Top caterers say they always use their own serving personnel, even if the sites staff is available, because they understand the caterers way of doing business.

Will the caterer be willing to include a recipe you provide, like a special family dish, or an appetiser with some sort of sentimental significance? Can they prepare vegetarian, kosher, kids, or special meals for just a few of your guests?

Where will the food be prepared? Are there on-site facilities, or do you, the caterer, and the site manager need to make additional arrangements? If the caterer must bring in his own equipment, is there an additional fee? Also will their insurance comply with the venue’s requirements.

Does the caterer work with fresh (not frozen) food?  To ascertain this you will need to see them work in their kitchens when you schedule the tasting.

Does the caterer have a license?  This means their business has met legal standards and has liability insurance and make sure this includes a liquor license if you are having a bar or getting them serving to serve alcohol at your wedding.

Can the caterer provide alcohol? Or can you handle the bar separately? If you can provide it, is there a corkage fee? How and when will you get the alcohol to the caterer? If the caterer will provide it, do they have a flexible wine list, and can you make special requests? How is this list priced? So you see booze is not deal with and there are plenty of questions you have to address before it goes to your guests.

How will the caterer arrange the food on the buffet table or on plates? Can you see photos or videos of previous work displays? Remember some of them are now serving them on chopping boards or other trendy types of plate equivalents.  If this is the case then you need to ask your self, would my guests for example be happy eating off a banana leaf?

Can you speak to previous clients? Get at least two references that had a similar number of guests and a similar menu style. Always be careful on this front since the reference they provide you with could be from a wedding that they did sometime ago and at that time the chef maybe someone who was fantastic and their meals were outstanding.  As you know most restaurant start to decline when their super chef leaves!

Does the caterer also do wedding cakes? Can you use an outside baker if you desire? Is there a cake-cutting fee?

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