Tips for Finding a Caterer

One of the most critical aspects of your wedding reception is the food you will serve and the caterer you choose. You spent approximately one-third of your total budget on the food alone. So take great care in selecting your menu and your caterer. A reputable caterer will be passionate about creating a menu to suit your appetite and give valuable tips on what foods will work well together.

If your venue allows you to select your caterer, narrow your choices to no more than three caterers. When contacting each caterer, provide as much information as possible - your wedding date, time of day, number of guests, and amount of formality. If you have any menu ideas or food choices, let the caterer know, so they are prepared for your first meeting.


At your first meeting, caterers usually like to discuss your food choices and budget. Have an idea of your total guest count and what your catering budget will be.


The usual food options for a wedding reception are a sit-down meal, buffet, passed hors d’oeuvres, or food stations. Your caterer should be able to describe all of these options in detail and the suitability of each for the time of day, guest size, and reception style.


Find out if and when you will be able to sample the caterers’ dishes. You’ll want to make sure that you like the meal before you agree to spend the money. Some caterers set up monthly tastings for potential clients. It is not usual for a fee for your tasting that will be deducted from your cost if you book with them.


It would be best if you included meals for wedding personnel, such as the DJ, musicians, photographer and wedding consultant. They will have a long day while making sure your day is perfect and probably without any time to stop and eat. If cost is an issue, ask your caterer about “vendor meals.” Frequently they are offered at a lower price per person.


The contract should specify the date and time and address of the reception site. The menu by course and the number of guests expected and any special meals, if needed, should be included. It should also include the time of the cocktail hour, time the meal will be served, and the number of servers and bartenders. Include contact people, including someone from your end with whom the caterers can consult, usually the wedding coordinator. The linens, beverages to be served, bar guidelines, and liability insurance information listed. Typically an advance deposit is due, and you’ll want to check on the cancellation policy barring unforeseen events.

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