Increasingly brides and grooms are taking more control over the plans for their weddings. Rather than buying off the peg, as a society, we want to bring something of ourselves to our wedding celebration – and who can blame us?
This can mean booking a planner and downloading all of your hopes and dreams to them. Inviting them to source service providers who can deliver the personal touches that capture your personality and your theme perfectly. Equally you may be personally sourcing and planning each service provider for the day and liaising with them individually. Either way, the process is both daunting and exciting in equal measure and at times you can feel overwhelmed by jargon or simply not know where to look for the exact thing that will, for you, embody perfection.
What follows are a few things that you should consider when choosing your wedding caterer which we hope will help you to enjoy the process a little more.
What are you trying to achieve overall?
What do you want from your day. The role of each of the services you engage for your wedding is to help you to bring your dream wedding to reality. Lots of brides and grooms come with a really clear idea of what they are going for and, as a wedding caterer, we love that because we can immediately tap into it and design a menu that complements the overall theme and atmosphere that you are going for.
On other occasions our couples are not so sure what they want and they turn to us for ideas and suggestions. We love the creativity this allows us too if you have lots of ideas at the start and aren’t sure which direction to go in give your caterer all the options and see what they come up with for each – you may find that helps to focus your ideas down to one or two possibilities.
What is your venue providing that will help to achieve your overall aim?
Sometimes when brides and grooms book their venue it is a decision made completely on instinct – you just love it – it fits with your perception of everything that your wedding should be like. That might be a formal manor house or equally it could be a huge tipi in an enormous field.
It doesn’t matter what made you fall in love with the place, to you it’s perfect. What can sometimes be a bit difficult to do is to verbally explain that to someone else. This may not seem that important, and in some ways it isn’t, but if you can give an idea of what it is that won you over on the venue in the first place it will help your other service providers (caterers in particular) to make suggestions that enhance that initial draw you felt and help to complete the picture with the perfect menu and service solutions.
You may find that your venue lends itself to a particular style of wedding service that appeals, or it may be that you like the informality of the venue but you like the juxtaposition of a traditional style wedding breakfast in a festival tent. If you can get that across to your caterer they will be much better placed to provide you with realistic and imaginative suggestions right from the start of the process.
What role do you want the meal to play in you wedding celebration?
For some couples food is completely central to their day others it is more of an added benefit. Have a think about where you sit within that scale and try to convey that to your caterer as it is another factor that gives a good starting point for your conversation.
Also in practical terms, what time is your ceremony? This will impact the last time your guests managed to grab a meal before they arrived. A 1pm wedding, for example, impacts lunch meaning that guests are quite hungry at the wedding breakfast. Also, will there be a bar? Are your guests likely to be drinking significantly? – the food plays a role here in ensuring your guests are in a position to enjoy your day with you from start to finish.
What kind of budget do you have for your catering?
This doesn’t have to be set in stone but it is great to have an idea in mind. Most caterers will work on a per head basis and the final quote is going to depend on what exactly you order and the style of service. More formal settings will tend to cost more because of the additional equipment and staffing required. Less formal meals can help to save on budget but remember that quality ingredients and an experienced team bring a real value to your meal that it is worth budgeting for. Whatever you opt for be realistic, your catering is going to make up a significant percentage of your reception budget.
You need to ask upfront whether quotes include service staff and tableware hire or if those costs will be added on afterwards. Sometimes they are sometimes they aren’t it depends on the company but it is one of those things it is worth asking at the start, you can request an all inclusive price but if you don’t, make sure you have allowed something in the budget to cover those costs otherwise you could find you have blown all the budget on your food and guests are eating off paper napkins!
Before you speak to your shortlist of caterers find out from the venue what they allow in terms of catering. Ask what has worked well for events they have hosted previously. Ask what equipment is available for a caterer, whether they insist on specific caterers (or one from a preferred supplier list) and also think about what kind of service you want.
A good caterer will welcome a challenge and should be able to offer solutions and suggestions for your requirements but it is good to think them through beforehand so that you don’t feel flawed by the first series of questions your prospective caterer raises with you.