Choosing your caterer
28 Jul 2011
Choosing your caterer
AFTER the reception venue, your wedding catering will be one of the highest expenses of your wedding day.
This means that not only is it imperative to budget well, but it is also important that you ensure you choose a catering option that will deliver exactly what you want to the standard you expect.
So why choose a caterer?
Well, unless you are having a small affair with a minimal amount of friends and family, you will need the input of a professional.
It would be impossible for the average couple to consider catering for upwards of 20 people for a formal sit-down reception meal on top of everything else that revolves around the big day.
By employing a professional caterer you know that the food will taste good, portion sizes will be correct, and everything will be prepared on time – to your budget.
Fortunately Suffolk is abundant with some great caterers who can give your event that ‘wow’ factor.
Where do I start?
Don’t be tempted to simply flick through the phonebook plucking numbers from here there and everywhere. Remember this is a massive expense for your wedding and you will want a trustworthy and reliable caterer with a good track record.
Go to some local wedding fairs where you can talk to caterers and look at written testimonials from previous satisfied customers.
Or go online and check-out some local websites, which also should contain testimonials from happy couples. If a potential caterer is unable to provide evidence of having catered successfully for another event (by the way of testimonials, for example) it is best to steer clear.
The most effective way of all to find the right caterer is through word of mouth, though. Listen to friends and family who have recently married or know someone who has married locally in the past few months.
Or speak to your florist, venue, photographer or cake maker - all of them should be able to make a recommendation based on their professional experience in the wedding field.
What happens next?
Before you go gallivanting off to talk to your preferred caterers you should know three things:
1.The date of your wedding
2.Your approximate number of guests
3. The formality of your wedding - do you want a formal affair or something more relaxed
It really isn’t worth arranging to meet with caterers if it turns out they won’t be available on the date of your wedding, or that they can’t cater for the amount of people you expect to attend.
Call your top three or four caterers, finding out if they are available and willing to cater for your big day, then arrange a meeting with them, preferably with a tasting session to sample a few of their dishes.
What to ask
It would be easy to go to a tasting session with a caterer and get swept away by the beauty of the presentation, the taste of the dishes and the charm of the chef - but there are several questions you must ask so that you make an informed decision.
The most important things to know are:
1 Are staff provided in the cost per head?
2 Will the catering staff set-up and decorate the tables and clear them down again at the end of the event?
3 Are linen, cutlery, glasswear, tables, chairs, a cake table and cake knife provided - if not, can they be for an extra price?
4 What types of menu do they offer? Can they create the type of food you like?
5 Are they able to provide hors d’oevres and reception drinks/
6 Can they cater for children and special diets?
7 What is the dress code of the waiting staff?
8 Do they offer a bar service?
9 Is there a corkage charge if you provide your own drink?
10 If there is food leftover will they be able to serve some of it later in the evening?
11 Do they offer a contract promising that the items you ask for will definitely be provided?
12 Is there a deposit to pay?
13 When is full payment required?
14 When will they need a final head count and finalised menu?
15 Do they have indemnity insurance in case of a disaster?
Once all of these questions have been answered and you are satisfied, then you will have found the perfect caterer for you.