Whether you’re lucky enough to find a venue that has onsite catering options or you hire a catering company separately, deciding who to provide this service to may seem difficult. This isn’t unusual as drinks and meals will form a large portion of your budgeted wedding costs. Consider some of the following tips to figure out how to go about securing a wedding caterer to keep your guests fed and happy.
Know Your Budget
Having a ballpark range to work with helps catering companies tailor your package to perfectly match your event needs with realistic accuracy. It also eliminates the temptation of going over budget after sampling foods you couldn’t possibly put on your menu due to cost.
Speak With Your Venue About Your Catering Plans
Another important step in your decision-making process is to contact your venue and discuss your catering plans. You may discover there’s a list of preferred vendors you can start working from, which is advantageous for you since the venue already has an established relationship with whoever you choose.
Using a recommended caterer isn’t a must; they might not offer the type of cuisine you want or their prices may not be in your price range. Just try to remember that some venues have to approve the vendors you choose for your big day.
Shop Around for Catering Quotes
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment when sharing your plans for your big day, but make sure you get multiple quotes. Quotes you receive from catering service providers should cover costs, what kind of service you can expect, and the menu options included within the pricing. This is especially true if you plan to serve alcohol at your wedding and want to do so legally and affordably.
Catering Supplies and Wares
It makes for a stressful day if your venue doesn’t offer linens, dinnerware, or tables and chairs so make sure to ask your caterers about the supplies they offer. Hiring a company that provides these types of wares and furniture, or at least has a partnership with a rental company, is a great option.
Hire a Responsive Caterer
The taste and quality of the food are critical details for a perfect wedding meal, but that won’t matter if your catering company is bad about details and communication. Your most important of days can’t afford errors about guest headcounts, special menu considerations, or misquoted food pricing.
Sample the Catered Food Beforehand
A lot of betrothed couples assume they automatically get to sample the food before signing a contract with their catering provider. This isn’t as true as you might believe because preparing a full meal just for a sample takes time and money, which are two things caterers have to use wisely.
If your caterer doesn’t offer samplings until after signing, you have a couple of options to sample the menu before choosing their services, like:
Attend a Bridal Event
Many catering companies depend on large conferences and conventions to attract new business, so ask them if they plan to have a booth at one in the months leading up to your wedding day. It’s common for these types of companies to offer free samples of their meal offerings at these events.
Pay for a Small Tasting
Another option is to find out if you could pay a smaller fee per plate or person and hold a mini tasting event with a few of your closest wedding party members. You will still have a price per head, but your chosen caterer may more readily agree if you cover their expenses in providing three to five-course meal sampling.
Sign the Line with an Added Exception
If you really like the sound of their menu, or your caterer won’t offer any tastings until you sign the contract, insist that you can add an exception for canceling the contract without penalty if the tasting isn’t satisfactory. You should also find out if you will lose your deposit if you need to cancel and try to schedule your sampling event as early as possible, so you have time to source another caterer if necessary.
Read Caterer Reviews
When you’re making a short list of caterers, take the time to read reviews and talk to others who have used their services before signing any agreements. Finding out as much as you can about their service style, attention to details and meal quality will help you address issues before they occur if you decide to use them.
Create Your Final Proposal and Sign
Your final proposal should have all the outlined costs associated with your catering needs. Essential features and services you should make sure are in the contract before signing include:
- Alcohol policies
- Total cost of food and drink including staff and additional supplies
- Headcount and job roles
- Set-up time and break down expectations
- Tasting details and costs
Once you’ve got all the details ironed out and in print, sign your catering contract with confidence.
Central Jersey Venues Offering Catering
If you’re looking to create a fantastic custom menu, consider having your wedding at Windows on the Water at Frogbridge. With recognized service, spectacular lakeside views, quality tents, and huge halls, you’ll not only get one of the most beautiful venues in Central New Jersey, but you’ll also get a highly-trained culinary team that will create your menu. Call (609) 208-9475 or complete our contact form and let us help you create the wedding menu you’ve always dreamed of experiencing.