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This afternoon we are talking about one of my very favourite subjects…Food! When it comes to planning your wedding, choosing the correct food is up there with choosing you perfect dress and the best entertainment. Making sure your guest’s tummies are full is a sure-fire way to make sure you have a succesful wedding. But where to start? It may seem pretty baffling to begin with but with a little bit of help from us and the wonderful guys at Goose and Berry we have all the answers for you. So read on and in next to no time you will have everything you need to help you book your perfect caterer.
So you’ve pinned down a venue, bagged the outfits, and started having nightmares about where you will sit boozy uncle Alan. Before you get too carried away with favours, pinholes and gospel choirs, you need to focus for a few more moments to choose your caterer…
Many venues should have a list of pre-approved caterers to suit a variety of budgets and style; this is a great starting point. If a caterer of interest is not on their accredited list, then most reasonable venues will be happy to allow them to work in the venue, provided that they have the proper insurances, health and safety contingencies and a solid reputation.
If you are planning a wedding at home or at a venue which does not have a preferred list, then chat with your friends, family and other suppliers to see if they have any recommendations. For garden weddings, most marquee suppliers will have a list of caterers that they frequently work closely alongside.
A search for local companies on Google, or blogs who feature in your area or venue, will discover caterers situated close to your wedding location with lower transport charges, which means more budget is freed up for that extra canape!
Your catering can take up a large chunk of your budget, but is arguably one of the most important aspects of the day (for us anyway!) Having an idea of how much you are comfortable spending from the offset will allow you to choose a company that suits you, and for your caterer to “cater” within your budget. There is no point scrolling through menus, which are £150, a head, when your budget however hard you try, won’t stretch to it.
A good caterer will have lots of delicious suggestions of different menu styles at different price points. We are finding that couples are steering away from the formal three course sit down meals and finding creative ways to feed their guests more for less, but you must be realistic; a sharing fillet of beef is probably not going to be cheaper than a plated chicken main course.
You also need to consider what is included in the packages that they are offering you; being clear on this from the beginning will ensure that you aren’t hit with any unexpected costs at a later stage. Many caterers will offer a standard menu price, and then add linen, crockery, equipment and staff charges on top, so ask for a full breakdown of what is and isn’t included and if there may be any additional costs added at a later stage, from cake table linen to supplier meals.
You should be able to gauge from the initial enquiry, how good a caterer will be at responding. If
they are unresponsive from the beginning this should give you an indication of what you can
expect at a later stage. Your chosen caterer should be reliable and able to answer all of your
questions and offer you helpful solutions, no matter how many emails and questions you may
have. If they are difficult to get hold of initially, imagine how tough it will be to communicate
with them once they have your deposit?
Attention to detail is what will make a great caterer stand out from a good caterer. This really is
as just as important as how good the food tastes. Planning your wedding day is stressful enough
and your caterer will be the main supplier on the day, so you really want someone on hand who
will be reliable, responsive and happy to deal with your wedding eve meltdown!
Once you have whittled it down to your favourites, next on your agenda is to do your
research. Read their google reviews, have a look at their Facebook page, take a look at tweets
clients have written and ask to see their testimonials.
You’re looking for a caterer with reviews that are overall positive and honest. If you come across
a negative review, then chat with your caterer about it – they may have had weaknesses in the
past which they have taken steps to improve on, and they will appreciate your honesty in raising
your concerns. If you stumble across lots of negative feedback, then you may need to trust your
instincts and head back to the drawing board.
Ask friends and family if they have had any experience with the caterer you are interested in,
and chat with your venue and suppliers as they may have had real hands on experience in how
your caterer deals with their clients and professional partners.
Once you have decided on the caterer for you, a tasting session is advised – generally caterers
offer this free of charge once you book with them, but most good caterers will be happy to offer
a session prior to booking, for a redeemable fee.
When choosing your tasting menu, you should choose the dishes that you would like to eat on
your wedding day. Choosing a plated menu when you are planning on serving a buffet is not a
true reflection of the food that will be served on the day, and could leave you feeling like your
expectations weren’t met.
A tasting gives you the opportunity to discover whether the food is as delicious as it sounds on
paper, whittle your choices down, ensure you are happy with the presentation, portions and
flatware, and offer feedback on any changes that you would like to be made on the day.
Ask who your catering coordinator will be on the day. Many companies will have a team who
plan and then pass over the on-the day running of your Wedding to an event manager, but they
should allow you to meet with them prior to your day or at least have a call to chat through any
details which are important to you.
Ask to see your caterer’s terms and conditions and/or contract. Read through the small print, it
will be helpful for you to understand their payment terms, cancellation policies, reduced
numbers policy and any additional costs which may be incurred due to weather or any other
factors. Check they have valid insurances; if they can’t produce these documents this should be
a red flag.
Keep you caterer updated with your guest numbers and any additional details which may be
important to them. Notifying your supplier 2 weeks prior to the date that you have 100
additional guests, may not give them the time to book in additional wait staff, crockery and
Lastly – enjoy the process! Looking at menus, tasting delicious food and working with a fab
company to create your vision should be an enjoyable process. If you have chosen wisely, then
you should be able to relax and trust in your Caterer to deliver a spectacular feast with a smile!