How to make sure you select a great catering service for your wedding
Your wedding day – for many people this will be the biggest celebration of their entire life, though all the preparation and planning it involves can turn even the calmest person into a stressed-out wreck with shattered nerves and a short temper.
The good news is you don’t need to do that to yourself, as there are plenty of people out there willing and able to take on the responsibility for particular aspects of your wedding. From florists able to put together amazing flower arrangements and bouquets, and dressmakers who conjure up beautiful dresses for the bridal party, to professional photographers booked to capture this most special of days - expert help is there to be made use of, and this includes catering services.
There’s no denying that refreshments play a huge part in any wedding. From rehearsal dinners to formal post-wedding banquets and more casual evening parties – the food served provides people with the opportunity to celebrate, socialize, and of course to eat delicious food. Most couples spend a large proportion of their budget on providing food for guests, so the last thing anyone wants is food that is inedible, badly presented, or even worse, likely to see people spending more time in the bathroom than at the event!
The key thing to a successful wedding is to have top class people working on every aspect of it, and here we look in particular at how you can make sure you select a fabulous catering service that meets all your needs and helps make your big day extra special.
Tip #1 - Start looking for a caterer as soon as you can
Good wedding catering services are popular, so don’t hang around. You don’t even need to have the exact date to start sounding out possible companies, checking their availability, what they can offer, and what kind of fee they charge. If you are likely to have guests on special or restricted diets check if that is something a company can deal with at this point, to save wasting time later.
Tip #2 – Tap into all your connections for recommendations
Ideally you want to get recommendations from people you know as you then have some context for the suggestion. A suggestion from someone you know only enjoys bland food may not be as valuable to you as one from someone who shares your taste. [Remember that some venues may be strict about who prepares food on-site, asking for proof of certification in areas such as food handling.]
Tip #3 - Go to wedding fayres
There should be plenty of people at that kind of event, with samples, menus and other details that can give you some ideas on what is out there, and what appeals to you. This is also a chance to meet local caterers and see if you can spark the right connection.
Tip #4 - Watch out for any new branch launches nearby
When an established company opens a new branch there’s always a buzz, so why not get in early and check things out. Simply look out for announcements of a new office for wedding catering being opened. You get to test the vibe and maybe snap up the date you want to book them for ahead of the crowds.
Tip #5 - Look for a caterer who is focused on you from the start
A good caterer is not just excellent when it comes to food, but also when communicating with you. From your initial call or email they should be fast to respond, and be asking questions to ascertain your particular needs, tastes, and preferences. Sure they may be busy, but those that really care about delivering what a customer wants are happy to give you the time and attention that needs.
Tip #6 - Be clear about what your money is buying you
The last thing anyone trying to plan a wedding needs is to find the catering fee quoted and allocated from the budget doesn’t actually cover table linens or staff costs. Always insist on a complete and thorough breakdown of what is included and how each section is priced before making a final commitment.
Tip #7 - Ask about the wedding catering service’s insurance
They should have comprehensive public liability insurance which means there is no comeback on the wedding party should something awful happen to the guests as a result of the catering service’s negligence. It’s unlikely, and not much fun to think about – but it cannot be overlooked.
Tip #8 - Be clear about what you want
Presuming that you can match up what you want with the budget you have allocated then don’t be swayed from your vision. You may want a casual buffet or a high-end sit-down feast, so if a caterer tries to persuade you to go with whatever they happen to specialize in doing run the other way.
Tip #9 - Read reviews from a variety of sources
A caterer’s own website and social media pages are good places to find feedback, but it’s never wise to put all your eggs in one basket! Some reviews may be less than stellar but if there aren’t many you can assume those may have been left by ‘professional complainers’, while some of the best reviews could possibly be a little staged. Look at the overall themes mentioned, and importantly, the feedback left by the caterer. This can give you a good insight into how they handle both praise and criticism, and ideally this would be with grace and tact.
Tip #10 - Shortlist 2or 3 for a tasting
Take a couple of volunteers with you to help – you shouldn’t have trouble getting people to sign up!) If possible you should be tasting all or some of the food which would be on your own menu if they are hired for the job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, say for example, would it be possible to have a menu item adjusted slightly to suit your tastes?