If food takes up the largest chunk of your wedding budget, it’s important to hire a top-notch professional. After all, who wants to feel like their guests are giving them the side-eye over a subpar rib eye or have memories of a dry coq au vin? To prevent foodie disasters, you’ve got to choose the right caterer to meet your needs and your expectations.
“Communication is the first basic fundamental and the heart of every relationship,” says Andrew Marconi, vice president of The Catered Affair. And the same principle applies to your caterer: “Always focus on the expectation. Key questions should be discussed, and a great caterer knows those questions to ask. What’s most important to you? Once we identify that, we have direction and build from there.”
According to Marconi, these are a few crucial questions to ask any wedding caterer before you hire them:
Has the caterer worked in the location before? Understanding the venue is a key to success.
How many years has the caterer been established? A long track record is a good sign.
How many events do they do in a weekend? If they have another job or two scheduled for the same day as your wedding, you might want to pass. They should have ample time to dedicate to you and your event.
Does the caterer have a license? If they do, it means the business meets health department standards and has liability insurance.
Does the caterer specialize in certain types of food? Where is the food prepared, and how is it delivered? These are especially good questions to ask if you’re interested in focusing on your culture’s cuisine, if you’re vegetarian or have other dietary concerns, or if you have a desire to keep things local or sustainable.
What’s the level of experience required for their hires? You want someone who has been around food, is trained in technique, and has the right connections, especially if you want a caterer with ties to local farms and the sustainable food scene.
Will the caterer provide waitstaff, and what will they be wearing? You should also ask how many servers they recommend for the size of your wedding.
Can they describe a favorite event they catered recently? This will give you an idea of what kind of enthusiasm the caterer brings to the job, along with how they view the events they work on.
Will the caterer provide such things as tables, chairs, plates, table linens, and silverware? If so, you should have the option to take a look at these items prior to the event, to see if they’re what you want.
Does the caterer handle all table settings? Find out if it’s just the basics, or whether they’ll also put out place cards and favors.
What’s their average price range, and how do they break down the costs? Find out if they have food price categories, and make sure to ask whether their cited fees include things like linens and tax and gratuity.
After the caterer answers these questions to your liking, schedule a tasting. Because in the end, the proof is quite literally in the pudding.
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