Having food that titillates the palate is a great way to thank your guests for coming to your wedding. Getting the right caterer is vital towards this end. So where do you begin?
Style Think about the style you desire and the atmosphere you want to create. Traditional or western? Buffet or table d'hôte? Day or evening? How about incorporating a theme (e.g. all-white, country, cultural, red carpet)? These will help you sieve out the catering companies.
Budget and Costs Set a budget! It will be easier to plan when you know how much to spend. Your budget will have a big impact on the type of reception that you can have. It is crucial to ask about additional costs that you might incur so you won't be surprised by the final bill.
Research As with other wedding-related services, what better way than to seek those who have walked the path before? Ask friends and family for recommendation, but don't just stop there. Go to bridal forums on the Internet, go to the phonebook and check out bridal expo and wedding magazines. Talk to your makeup artist and people in the wedding industry. You can even check with your favourite restaurant if they cater. If your reception is an intimate, cosy event, engaging a friend who's a great cook could be just the kind of wedding catering you're looking for.
Experience Having an experienced caterer at your wedding can help take some of the stress off the big day. Catering veterans will be able to pre-empt your needs. On the actual day, you can rest easy knowing that the caterer will handle things smoothly. Ask your potential catering companies for client references and testimonials to help you decide.
Menu Regardless of the type of reception, you will have to think about guests' special dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, halal, diabetic). Many wedding caterers offer complimentary sampling to the bride and groom. Take this opportunity to give your input! As for drinks, the easiest way to take care of this is to offer a full service bar. Your guests can have their fill of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Be careful though... this is also the easiest way to bust your budget.
Presentation Not only does the food need to taste good, it has to look good as well. Ask the caterer how they intend to present the food. Do they supply decorations, linens, tables & chairs? See if they can provide photos of actual events or show you a sample.
Service How many staff will be on the job at the reception? What is the staff-to-guest ratio? A rule of thumb is one server for every 10 guests. Have they been properly trained? What's their dress code?
Terms and Conditions Put everything down in black and white so that there won't be any misunderstanding. The contract should include event details, cost breakdown, service and staff, wine and spirits, menu as well as policies and procedures.
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