Hiring a catering service provider is part of your wedding planning strategy. A very important and significant part of your reception will be the food and beverages provided by your caterer. If you have experience with caterers, you are at an advantage, but if you have never hired a caterer before, don’t worry, there are some things you can do to make the process efficient and enjoyable.
Many wedding reception venue offer catering services so you may not need to worry about hiring a separate caterer. If the venue does not have a food staff or they don’t provide catering, they may be able to suggest one to you. Some venues will only allow “approved” caterers on-site.
Even if your venue manager recommends a catering service you should still do your homework. Just like any other wedding vendor, a caterer should be professional and enjoyable to work with. They must be able to provide professional references; part of your job is to always contact the references. Because so much rides on the caterer, make sure the business is: experienced, reliable, trustworthy, and provides a quality product and service. A caterer may be experienced in smaller events but not large, multi-course receptions. One may be experienced with weddings and another with conventions.
Most caterers will be happy to do a “tasting” for you with small samples of the menu items you are considering. Make this a way for you and your fiancé to have fun meal out – by the time you taste everything you will feel like you have had a restaurant grade, multi-course meal. A word of advice, don’t plan your caterer tasting the same day as your cake tasting or you may explode.
There are two different styles of catering:
Seated Dinner – Seated dinner setting will usually require more servers than a buffet dinner. It is generally a bit more elegant and formal. Pricing for a seated dinner usually includes soup or salad, 2-3 choices of entree, and a few side items. One way to make it more efficient for you, your caterer and your guests is to include menu options with your wedding invitations so your friends and family can make the choice they prefer.
Buffet – Generally less formal, a buffet gives you and your guests more food options because the food doesn’t require as many serving staff so the prices for more choices are less. The buffet also allows your guests to pick and choose what they like. In addition to the clear advantage of a more flexible buffet dinner, your hungrier guests can go back for seconds. With the popularity of rustic, country and DIY weddings, buffets provide really fun options. We’ve seen everything on a wedding buffet – tacos, picnic items, country rib menues – there is no limit to your imagination.