How to find your dream caterering company for your next catered event
Pay attention to their communication
Attention to detail will be a key factor on your wedding day, and if they can't impress you now, they won't impress you then. Many caterers will claim to have the best food made with the freshest ingredients at a great price, but it is rare to find one to be quick to return call and emails.
A good caterer should understand your overall vision for the day and listen to your ideas. They should be able to use their wealth of experience and build upon your ideas to go beyond your expectations for the day.
Even though, how the food tastes is a key component to any catering company, remember how they treat their clients is even more telling.
I CAN'T EMPHASIS THIS ENOUGH!!!
Figure out your budget before you even begin
It is important you get an early indication of catering costs and what they include. Ask about what options are available to you, if you are on a limited budget tell your caterer what it is – ideally they should be able to provide a package to suit your needs.
In addition, coming up with a food and drink budget early not only helps you figure out which companies you can afford to hire, it also allows those companies to cater their proposal to your needs.
To help plan your wedding budget visit the Knot’s wedding planning budget calculator.
Flexibility Regarding Menu Options
Practically every caterer has a standard menu or menus to choose from, and many do provide some level of built-in flexibility to adapt these menus to your specific needs. However, the standout caterers will go beyond standardized menu options and be willing to create amazing fare that matches even more specific theme and dietary needs. If a caterer isn’t willing to adapt its menu or challenge its staff to work with and celebrate your custom theme, that’s a red flag.
Don’t forget to ask to see a portfolio of the caterers work with pictures of their food. It is important that your caterer has professional, commercial facilities and a team of talented individuals to serve your guests on the day. When meeting your caterer it’s advisable to ask about the quality and sustainability of the produce they source.
Of course you will need to check up on the caterers you are considering, and it’s always good to start online and check out sites like Yelp, and The Knot for their reviews and ratings. It’s wise to check references, make calls and conduct one’s own due diligence.
Things to ask and consider are the quality of the waitstaff, attention to detail, food quality and making sure the bride and groom are fed are details that can make or break a wedding.
Arrange for tastings with your top 3 choices
Taste, then book. How will you ever know what a caterer can do unless you sample their goods? And more specifically, how will you know what the menu items you are considering will taste like unless you specifically try them?
Attend at least 3 tastings with separate caterers and make sure you can taste what you want.
Be prepared to pay a fee … it’s a small price to pay to ensure you choose the right caterer and when you book with them. Most caterers will credit the tasting fee towards your catering bill.
Don’t forget when you are sampling the food; be attentive to how it is presented, as any caterer who takes the time to properly display a sample will probably be more likely to make that kind of effort on your event day.
Find out what is included
Do they provide linens and china or will you have to rent these items separately? What about glassware and serving utensils. Knowing these facts will affect the overall food budget. While this may be an extra fee, coordinating these essential rentals through one company will be a lot easier than balancing two or three companies to set your tables.
Quality of Food & Service
Ask to see a portfolio of the caterers work with pictures of their food. It is important that your caterer has professional, commercial facilities and a team of talented individuals to serve your guests on the day. When meeting your caterer it’s advisable to ask about the quality and sustainability of the produce they source.
Secondly, service is extremely important, equal to the quality and style of your food. It’s important that you receive the utmost level of service right from your initial enquiry, through to your tasting session right up until the end of the wedding day itself. Your caterer should provide you with the enthusiasm, excitement and expertise your wedding deserves!
An Experienced Chef and Kitchen Staff
The chef’s background and experience can be more important than the owner of the company who has awards on their shelf. It’s the chef, sous chef and kitchen staff that often seals the deal.
Ability to Handle Your Specific Type of Event.
Not every caterer is perfect or every type of event. You need to be specific about the type of event you are planning and the type of food and/or presentation you are expecting. Otherwise, you may end up selecting a caterer who simply isn’t a good fit for the type or style of your event.
Each caterer has areas they specialize in so even a caterer with a great reputation may not be the best fit for you. Some special in small boutique events, while others specializes in servicing large groups and events.
When you will know you have selected the right caterer?
When a caterer is willing and able to elegantly and expertly surprise and delight your guests by delivering beautiful, tasty and adventurous food with great service that compliments your event theme, you have nailed the catering aspect of your event.
Have fun planning your big day. Feel free to leave comments and questions.