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Selecting a Wedding Caterer

in Hiring Vendors
Garden-themed wedding reception place settings.

Selecting a good caterer for your wedding is one choice that your guests will definitely notice and appreciate, so it makes sense to reserve a significant part of your wedding budget for this particular item. Even if you’re not working with a huge budget to begin with, taking the time to select the best caterer that you can afford will make your reception even more enjoyable and memorable.

Once you’ve spent some time researching catering companies online (or perhaps you’ve received some word of mouth recommendations from friends in the area), you should plan on interviewing at least a couple of different caterers in person, and schedule a tasting with each one if possible. Some caterers will charge for a tasting, but the expense is well worth it if you consider the amount of money that might be spent on catering overall.

Also, ask your prospective caterers if they have worked at your reception venue before, as well as whether the food will be prepared on site (this is preferable) or offsite and then reheated for the wedding.

Some important items that should be spelled out in a final contract with the caterer include:

  • Deposit and payment policy
  • Cancellation policy
  • A detailed description of the services to be provided for your wedding
  • A breakdown of the overall cost by cost per head for food and beverages
  • Number of onsite catering staff that will be at your wedding (count on about one staff member for every ten guests)
  • An estimate of the overall gratuity charge
  • Costs for equipment charges or other miscellaneous fees, if any

Tip: Certain seafoods or meats are less expensive depending on the time of year, so you might be able to save some money on food simply by discussing this fact with your catering manager or chef and then choosing your entrées accordingly.

Tip: Consider buying wine from a local vineyard rather than ordering it through your caterer — many vineyards offer discounts when you buy a case or more and this can provide a significant savings to you depending on how many guests you expect.

Finally, you might want to ask your caterer in advance of the big day to save and box up a couple of extra meals that you and your fiancé can take with you after the reception – it’s often the bride and groom that don’t have time to enjoy the food at their own party! :)