*Photo via AV Gourment
Finding a caterer is more than just picking a company with the most delicious food. It’s about finding a business with excellent service, strong communication skills, price points in your budget, and experience working with events similar to yours. While it might seem overwhelming at first, these guidelines will set you on the path towards finding your perfect wedding caterer.
Set Your Budget and Know Your Headcount
Meeting with caterers before you know what your financial limits are is a dangerous game. Don’t let yourself fall in love with a caterer only to ultimately learn that they are out of your budget. Set your catering budget before you start scheduling meetings or phone calls with caterers, and let your budget influence who you talk to. Your budget will show you not only what companies work within your financial means, but will also show you what style of catering is accessible (such as buffet, plated dinners, or family-style). You’ll save yourself a lot of time and potential upset.
At the beginning of this process, it is also important to know your approximate headcount. This will influence not only your budget but will play a huge role in what prices the caterers will give you in their proposal for your wedding, so be sure to have this information readily available.
Check-in with Your Venue for Recommendations and Limitations
Many venues will have a list of preferred vendors. These vendors will have successfully worked with the venue before, so you’ll know that they’ll know the ins and outs of your event space. Check-in with your venue to see if they have any recommendations, as this can be a great place to start your caterer search. If you do not end up going with a vendor on their preferred list, you may need to get approval through the venue. Ask what their requirements on outside vendors are ahead of time so that you don’t end up facing any unexpected obstacles.
Get Multiple Quotes
Don’t just go for the first caterer you talk to that seems like a good match. Spend some time shopping around, and get quotes from multiple catering companies. You’ll provide the headcount and any details about the style and venue, and they’ll provide staff numbers, menu options, and a breakdown of prices. This way, you can compare and contrast prices, menu options and serving styles, and any extra features or services certain companies might offer. This will help you make an informed decision at the end of the process.
Check for Liquor Liability Insurance
If you want your caterer to provide alcohol and bar services at your wedding, you’ll need to make sure they have liquor liability insurance. This ensures that you won’t be hit with an extravagant bill if any accidents or injuries related to alcohol consumption happen at your event.
Check If They Can Work With Dietary Restrictions
You’ll likely have some guests with certain dietary restrictions, so check in with each potential caterer to see if they are able to work with these limits. Keep in mind that guests may need vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, kosher, or halal meals. You will also want to check if any caterers tack on a hefty fee for specialized meals. If you have a lot of guests with dietary restrictions and a certain caterer charges too much for these meals, you may need to look elsewhere.
Take Note of Communication and Behavior Before the Wedding
The attention to detail and overall behavior of a company will likely reflect how their service will be on the day of the wedding, so pay close attention. Make sure the caterers you are interviewing are cordial, don’t make any major mistakes with details, and have strong communication skills. If any red flags come up with any potential choices, you may want to keep looking.
Ask for References and Check Reviews
Previous customers will be able to give you a real glimpse of what it is like working with a certain caterer, so take advantage of their insight. Besides looking at online reviews, ask your potential caterers for some references. If possible, ask for references from weddings that had a similar guest count and serving style so that you can get an accurate look into what your celebration will look like with this caterer.
Know Where You’re Getting Dinnerware
Some venues will provide dinnerware, linens, tables, and chairs, but others don’t. As you are interviewing potential caterers, ask what dinnerware and linens they provide, and if they charge an extra fee for this service. If neither your venue nor your caterer provides some or all of these items, you may need to make room in your budget to rent from another vendor. If you do have to rent from an outside source, you may also want to check in with your venue or caterer if they know of any preferred rental houses—they likely will have some recommendations, or even companies that they often partner with.
If you are in the process of planning your wedding, come to the next Georgia Bridal Show near you to connect with top wedding caterers in Georgia and all across the Southeast who will leave your guests feeling full and satisfied.