Let’s be honest, most people attend weddings for the food. Most of your guests will rate your wedding based on the food you provide, its quality and quantity. Thus, the caterer you choose to feed your guests will be a reflection of yourself. Should your guests enjoy themselves, eat tasty food to their satisfaction, they will say you did it, not your caterer. Should the situation be reversed, your guests will do the same.
So before you settle on a wedding caterer, consider the following:
1. Your budget
How much money do you have to spend for your entire wedding and for catering specifically? This is the most important factor to consider even before you start shopping for caterers.
2. The guest list
How many people will be attending your wedding? Some caterers will charge you per head while others have a general price per certain number of people. Before you approach any caterers, know how many people you will have to feed.
Some caterers have set menus for you to choose from. While these are great and can cut costs especially if you don’t want any foods that might be out of season, they can be very limiting. Ask the caterer how much it will cost to tweak the menu so that you can include more variety. Keep in mind that off-season foods will be more expensive than those that are in season.
Do a taste-test to find out if you actually like the foods in their menu.
If possible, you can attend another wedding or event they are catering to see if you like their presentation and serving style as well.
Find out what their packages include. Is it inclusive of soft drinks, water? How about alcoholic drinks? What would be the cost of additional drinks?
Another point to consider is if your caterer will provide the tables and chairs, flatware and glasses or if you need to outsource these. Ask as many questions as you have no matter how mundane they might seem.
Some venues, particularly hotels, come with a caterer as a packaged deal. Find out what this entails, how much food they are serving, and the menus available.
If you wish, you can ask if you’re allowed to come with your own caterer instead and the cost implications of this.
6. Serving style
Some caterers give you the option of having your guests served while they are seated or have food served buffet style and others have various food stations. Which styles does the vendor have and which would you prefer for your wedding?
7. Wait-staff provided
It’s important to know how many wait-staff will be on hand that day. You want to have a smooth reception so that your guests don’t have to wait too long to be served.
Your caterer of choice should be someone you can easily communicate with, one who understands your needs and is able to provide them or suggest better options. Pay attention to how well the prospective caterer treats you. This will be an indicator of their professionalism.
How far in advance do you need to book them? Booking a caterer well in advance is more cost-effective than booking them closer to your wedding date. Ask how early is early enough and what you need to do to book them. How much of a deposit must you pay?
10. Who buys the food?
This might seem like an obvious question but some caterers will charge you less if you buy the food. Ask yourself if you want the hustle of sourcing your own foodstuff versus letting your caterer do it.
No question is a silly question when looking for a wedding caterer. Ask for as many details as possible and compare caterers before settling on one.