Along with the venue and dress the food is up there with things your guests will remember about the wedding. So when deciding on a caterer you need to make sure they are a good fit for you and they can offer you what you want regarding the type of cuisine as well as look and feel of the event.
Check out our Questions to Ask caterers
First thing you need to find out is if they have the documents required to work with food - if not don’t bother asking anything else. Also, if you will require their bar services find out if they have a liquor licence.
Then get some background information regarding their catering experience. Keeping in mind that a new company is not necessarily a no-go, they might bring new energy to the event at a cheaper cost. However, if you are looking at a fairly large guest list it might be a better idea to go for a caterer with more experience.
Get at least 2 references (preferably with a similar number of guests and menu style). This can tell you what you may not find out just by talking to the caterer, including what it's like to work with this company or individual.
Find out what services they offer - many caterers offer a range of services from day-of coordination to bar services to supplying décor & cakes. They may also offer things like table-side water service, wine pouring and tray-passed appetizers which can contribute to the overall experience of your wedding meal. So, you should sit down with your fiancé and discuss exactly what it is you want and if it will fit into your budget.
Evaluate the general feel you get from meeting the caterer, remember that they will play a very important part on your wedding day and if you feel that they are not organised or reliable rather move on to the next one.
Strongly consider a caterer who specializes in the cuisine you want. Not only will they have all the right resources but they will also know how to properly prepare the food, which will ensure tasty dishes.
Although it is important that the food taste good it also needs to look good and even the most delectable dish can seem unappetizing if poorly presented; so ask for photos of the food they have served at previous functions.
Even better is to arrange for a tasting before you make a decision (if possible) - just keep in mind that this may be an additional cost.
Find out if they work only with set menus or if it is possible for you to customize the menu (add the dessert you love); also if they cater for special dietary restrictions (especially if this is a requirement for some of your guests) and any additional costs that may be involved.
It is important to find out where they source their ingredients - carefully sourced premium ingredients can cost more where local and/or seasonal ingredients may be cheaper (plus you will be supporting the local suppliers). So you should sit down and decide if it is worth the extra cost to have that imported lobster.
Décor & Staff
With décor you get your basics - the tables and chairs along with the, crockery, cutlery and glassware - all caterers should have at least these basics but find out from them what else they offer. They may only have the basics or be able to supply you with everything you need to decorate the whole event. Either way ask to see pictures (or in person if possible) so you can make sure what they have fits in with your theme and colours.
Make sure they use their own serving staff (on average one waiter per 20 guests and 1 barman per 50 guests). This way you can be sure the event will run smoothly because they know the ins and outs of how the company operates. Also make sure that they can dress appropriately for the tone and style you want for your wedding.
Ask if a manager or supervisor (preferably the person you will deal with during the planning process) will be present on the day to assist with the services you require. If the person that you are meeting isn’t the one who will be present on the day itself, make sure you get an introduction to the person that will be ahead of time.
Ask for a breakdown of how exactly the costs work - most caterers charge per person but this cost may not include costs like tax, bar costs or setup-fees. So, find out how exactly their charges work (hidden fees) so you won’t have a surprise when you get the final bill.