Choosing the right wedding reception caterer is one of the most important decisions you will make for your big day. Not only does the food and drink typically account for the largest portion of your wedding budget, the caterer can also greatly impact the atmosphere and memorability of your reception.
“There are so many options and it’s a great time to be creative and create a well-rounded and impressive menu for your guests,” said Kelley Belman, Made from Scratch Sales Coordinator. “It can sometimes be intimidating, but asking your Event Coordinator questions and listening to their advice is a great way to navigate planning. Chances are your event coordinator knows from experience what does and doesn’t work with different budgets, different venues, different styles, etc.”
Belman also said that while planning for food and drinks can be stressful, the best advice she can give is for couples to relax and enjoy the process.
“Your event coordinator is there to help guide you through the process and to make planning your catering as easy as possible,” she said. “Describe your overall vision to them and take their advice seriously. They usually know what’s best and can make your day amazing.”
To help you start your research into choosing the best caterer for your wedding, we have put together a list of must-ask questions. The list is a combination of expert advice from The Knot, Brides, Wedding Wire and our experienced staff at Made from Scratch.
Is the caterer available for your wedding date?
This one seems obvious, but before you have a lengthy conversation about your catering needs, be sure that the caterer is available on your wedding date.
How many months in advance do brides need to book a caterer?
At Made from Scratch, we see bookings take place anywhere from 3 to 18 months prior to the wedding, with the majority of couples signing their contracts between months 9 and 12. This time period allows brides and grooms to have other changes solidified like venue and theme before solidifying the menu. The more details you have planned when going into pick out your catering, the better. It helps the Event Coordinator see your overall vision and a complimentary menu can be developed.
Does the caterer have a license?
It is important to know that your caterer has met all local health department standards and carries liability insurance.
Which catering styles do they offer?
While there are numerous options when it comes to catering style, Wedding Wire says the following are the most popular styles:
Discuss your goals with your caterer and they will help you determine which style is best for you.
Have they catered an event at the venue before?
Each venue and kitchen is set up differently. If a caterer has served a meal at the space previously, they will know how to most efficiently use the space, and will also likely have recommendations for setup.
This does not discount a caterer if they have not served at the space before, you will just want to make sure they take the necessary planning steps to get to know the venue before the big day.
Will the caterer provide alcohol? How do they charge for it?
According to The Knot, most catering companies provide the bar and alcohol, but supplying it yourself can save you money. However, some caterers charge an opening fee for every bottle they open, so be sure to know the details before making any decisions. When it comes to charging for alcohol, most caterers either charge a set fee per person or by the amount of alcohol consumed. Also, ask if there is a fee for the employees who will be serving the alcohol.
How can couples save money when it comes to catering?
There are several ways to save money when planning your catering. The most common choices we see at Made from Scratch are to go with a buffet style meal, rather than plated or family style. Buffets require less equipment and less staff which is a huge factor in the overall cost of catering.
Another way we see clients saving is by going with disposable china and displayed beverages (like a water station) rather than real china. Disposable plates, cutlery, cups and napkins will always cost less than the real stuff.
The following is a list of additional questions (compiled by Brides) to consider.
To discuss catering options for your wedding, contact Made From Scratch’s Event Consultants today!