As a caterer I would be allowed to believe that Catering is the most important part of your wedding but it isn’t, everything has to be equally important no point having a great venue, great food and no table plan, photographer or entertainment or a comfortable chair but… and this is the important bit, the main thing the guests will remember is a good or a bad meal and especially if they leave hungry so here are a few tips when deciding on your caterer.
Budget… don’t book an expensive venue and then have to compromise on the food budget.. see above..there are venues and types of catering for all budgets, so do your research before paying the deposit... if there are accredited caterers at the venue speak to them before booking so you have a realistic cost of the wedding before committing.
What’s included.. all caterers should quote for the following – food (obviously) but also kitchen equipment, crockery, cutlery, staff for service and the kitchen, set up ideally the day before where possible and being there on the day to ensure all runs smoothly & of course VAT, at 20% this is a huge amount to add to your budget if you didn’t realise it hadn’t been included. Some of us quote a single price including everything where some prefer to break it down so make a simple spreadsheet and tick off what’s included to get a fair comparison.
Staffing- as above this should be included but check the level of staffing , as a guide fora fully served meal, we would allow 1 staff for every 10-14 guests depending on style of service and venue layout- ( i.e distance from kitchen to tables) & number of guests, our ratio decreases when numbers go above 100 guests.
Rapport..There are scientific laws about why we get on with some people instantly and build that all important rapport.. your caterer will be someone you spend a fair bit of time talking to, emailing and meeting over the months & even years before your wedding so it’s important that you like them, you need to feel that element of trust and understanding of you both from day one.. so establish your main point of contact from the beginning , sometimes this may have to change but it’s good to know & like your support team
Booking.. So you have found a caterer you like & their food of course, it’s in budget, they are available..BOOK them , don’t delay, if you have had to pay out several deposits and need to wait for payday ask if you can pay a smaller deposit to hold the date, there is nothing worse for the caterer after meeting a couple, quoting etc.. to then have another enquiry which wants to book and you have to turn the other booking down when they come back to you a month later..
Menu.. Now you have to remember whose wedding it is. YOURS.. so choose the food you want but allow the caterer to advise you on ensuring a Wow factor to your day, I meet up with past couples who tell me their friends are still talking about the food at their wedding several years later and that’s as it should be. The caterer should also be able to cater for specific dietary requirements, such as Gluten, dairy free & vegans etceven Auntie Joan who only eats a plain chicken breast whilst you might choose a Trio of Wild Boar for you & everyone else.. so give them the list of requirements you have, most of us won’t charge extra for this but again check on enquiry..
Style of food.. To buffet or to be served.. if you have two very different eating trends within the families then a buffet can be a good choice, but ensure it’s a fully serviced buffet and not a free for all with a huge queue of disgruntled guests. Ensure tables will be called up one at a time and served by staff at the buffet table, this will ensure a smooth service and keep the wedding day on track, an informal buffet is fine for a birthday party but not a wedding unless you are going for a very relaxed garden party but again discuss with your caterer
Experience ..use our experience to your benefit, a couple of years ago there was a trend for fish & chips as a main meal, total impractical at just about every venue , even a fish & chip shop couldn’t cook & serve a 100 portions in less than an hour so without that level of equipment impossible, our job is not to say NO but how about doing it this way instead.. serve mini cones as canapés or evening food, use our knowledge to make your day a success.
The Plan…Some caterers will provide a full front of house service throughout the wedding, if so let them help you to plan the day, they will have lots of good ideas to make it all go smoothly but keep it individual to you too and make sure to tell them all your ideas.. and try to provide all the information they ask you for on time, tables plans, final numbers, dietary requirements etc so they have plenty of time to put all their final orders and staffing etc.. in place.
Dress fittings.. DO NOT STARVE before your fitting, otherwise on the day you will be uncomfortable the second you start to eat and all that hard work, choosing the caterer, deciding the menu will be for nothing as you just look at your plate unable to eat anything..a dress that can be loosened is ideal!
Finally if you think you don’t really need a caterer and can do it all yourselves at least talk to one and ask for some advice on how to go about it safely and discuss everything you will need to put in place.
Above all, have an amazing day!