Blissfully Engaged: The Caterer

Happy Wednesday Brides to Be!

If you're behind on the series, I'm sharing with you some great tips for booking your vendors. Make sure to jump back to previous posts to catch up!  This week we're talking about your caterer!

Your food and drinks can easily add up to one of the most expensive parts of your wedding.  And the more people you invite, the quicker these costs are going to add up. I really encourage my couples to really think about the menu options. Think above and beyond the traditional wedding menu.  Is the groom's favorite food mac and cheese? Ask your caterer if they can do mac and cheese bites as appetizers. Are you getting married in a vineyard where you had your first date?  Ask if they can incorporate the wine in one of their sauces. Think about how important the meal is to you and your guests.  If you're a foodie, consider spending a little more here and cutting back on something that's not as important to you.  If you want your guests to focus on the bar and the party, consider comfort food that's going to be easy to serve and going to fill everyone up. Here's some questions that I make sure to ask when assisting a couple to book their caterer. 

What types of service do you offer?
Unless you're doing an appetizer only reception, you're probably going to choose between plated and buffet. Often times brides think that the buffet is going to be the less expensive option, but that's not always the case.  You usually have to order slightly more food on a buffet because people can choose whatever they want (and your caterers can't control their portion sizes).  A plated dinner on the other hand is going to require more staff to serve the meal.  

Also, ask how they serve appetizers or cocktail hour.  Do they have caterers walking the floor offering guests appetizers or do they offer a buffet like setup?

Can I create a custom menu? 
Most caterers are really flexible and if they have the means to make it and you're willing to pay the price, they will.  Make sure you feel comfortable with what you're serving your guests, don't feel pressured into the basic wedding menu. 

Do you offer vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options?
Think about your guests and make sure they're not going hungry on your big day.  If anyone has food allergies or dietary needs, make sure to ask them to note it on your RSVP card. That way you and your caterer are prepared!  

What's included in your service charge? 
It's so important to think about all the charges and what's included when comparing caterers.  You want to be able to compare apples to apples. 

  • How many people will be present on your team?
  • Do you include delivery, setup, and teardown in your fee?
  • Do you provide tables and linens for a buffet? 
  • Do you provide flatware and place settings?
  • Do you clear dishes from guests' tables?
  • Do you include gratuity in your package fee or is there a required percentage? 

What is your policy for vendor meals?
As a bride and groom getting married, there are SO many steps that are required in planning a wedding, so reading every word of a vendor contract probably doesn't happen all the time.  One thing that gets missed often, is vendor meal requirements. Often times any of your vendors that are working for 6+ hours require a meal in their contract. (Look at your contract for your photographer, videographer, wedding planner, DJ, etc.)  Some caterers have a discounted price for vendors, others do charge full price. It's definitely something to ask about so it doesn't get missed on your big day!

What is your policy on leftovers?
Depending on your catering company, you may be able to take home any leftover food from the buffet or leftover plated meals.  But, unfortunately due to health codes, not all caterers are allowed to send food home with you.  You can request it to be donated, but again it may not be allowed, it just depends upon the vendor.  

What questions do you have?  I hope this gives you a good starting point!

Cheers!  Lindsay