If you are planning a wedding then one of the most important (and stressful) jobs on your long list will be to organise the catering.
You need to make sure that you get enough food for all of your guests, that there is something for everyone and all dietary requirements are catered for, and that the food looks appetizing and adds to the elegance of the event.
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing a caterer, and there are also lots of other choices you need to make once you have picked one. It can all feel very daunting when you also have a lot of other jobs to do to organise the wedding.
We have put together this useful guide to help you sort out the catering for your wedding. Keep reading to find out more.
Step One – Set Your Budget
The first thing you need to do before you start looking for a wedding caterer is to decide how much money you will be able to spend.
When you booked the wedding and started planning it, you probably set aside a certain amount for catering.
Double check this amount and make sure that you can still afford it. After all, you might even be able to afford more if you have saved money elsewhere in the budget.
You will need to consider how many guests you have invited and how many are likely to attend. Then you have an idea of how much you can spend per person on the catering.
Once you have a good idea of the budget you can start to look for a catering company.
Sorting out the catering should be one of the first things you do after you have booked the venue. Remember – you don’t want to leave it too long as they book up very far in advance!
Step Two – Research
Once you have decided on your budget, you can start researching potential catering companies.
Check with your wedding venue whether they have a list of preferred caterers. If the answer is yes, it could make things easier for you as the caterer will already have a good working relationship with the venue and they will be used to working together.
Look at the different catering companies in the area and compare them with each other. Which one has the lowest price? Which one has the best reviews? What kind of packages do they offer?
Always, check their social media page to see what comments people have left about the service and the quality of the food.
Once you have a shortlist of catering companies, you can move on to step three.
Have you ever thought of organising a Paella Party for a social event? See our piece on Paella Catering for all the information.
Step Three – Appointments
You will need to call all of the catering companies on your shortlist – or send inquiry emails depending on their process – to see if they are available on your date. If they are, you can book an appointment to speak to them and test a sample of their food.
Make sure that you are prepared for your appointments – research their packages and prices beforehand so that you have a good idea of what the company can do for you.
Think of some ideas and make a list of any questions that you need to ask so you don’t forget anything. You should also bring information such as how many guests you are catering for and any dietary requirements.
Try to schedule the appointments close together, as you will want to speak to all of the companies before you make your decision.
Be aware that the quotes they provide are usually only valid for a short period of time. Also, they could book up on your date while you are deliberating.
Step Four – Make Your Choice
Once you have your quotes and you have spoken to each catering company then you need to make your decision.
You will usually have to pay a deposit to book the caterer for your wedding date. Then you have the exciting part- deciding on the menu.
Think about your wedding – the theme, the style, the order of events – and what kind of menu would work well. Do you want to offer a sit-down meal with multiple courses? Or would you prefer a party-style buffet?
You also need to think about your guests. Do you want your guests to have a choice for their meal or is everyone having the same thing?
Do you have any vegetarians or vegans attending the wedding? Does anyone have any allergies? You might need to wait until you receive RSVPs before you can gather all of the necessary information.
Step Five – Make Sure Everything Is On Track
Your caterer will let you know what they need from you and when. A few weeks before the wedding you should check in with them to make sure that everything is on track.
You can ask any final questions and make sure that both you and them understand exactly what is going to happen on the day. This should ensure that everything runs smoothly.
A Spit Roast can be a fun way to cater for a large group. Check out our post on Spit Roast Catering for all the details.
What Questions Should You Ask The Caterer?
If you are not sure what you should be asking your catering company at appointments and once you have booked them, here are some things you could consider:
- Have you catered at this venue before?
- How long does it take you to set up?
- How much space will you need in the function room?
- Are we able to choose a custom menu?
- What are your most popular dishes?
- How long does it take you to clean up?
- Do you charge per head or as a bulk charge?
- Do you offer children’s meals?
- Is the food made off site or at the venue?
- When do you need a final headcount?
- When do you need final menu choices?
Can You Cater Your Own Wedding?
Some people choose to cater their own wedding to save money. This is a good option if you are a very organized person and you are used to cooking for large groups of people.
It is also good if you have a lot of help from family and friends who also love cooking and are willing to share the load.
You need to make sure that you buy enough ingredients to cater for all of your guests. You need to have a way of keeping the food warm that is safe and hygienic. Obviously, you need to make sure that everything is cooked perfectly so that your guests don’t become ill.
You also need to think about the logistics of it- how will you get the food to the venue? How will the food be served? Self-service tends to work best if you are catering your own wedding, but you need to make sure there is plenty of food in case people take too much.
Who is going to clean up afterward? The venue could charge you extra money if you do not clean up on time or you leave the function room in a mess.
Self-catering your wedding gives you lots of options in terms of what you can serve, but it also adds a lot of pressure and responsibility on you. It tends to be less stressful to book a catering company.
Have you considered Finger Food for your big day? Check out our piece on Finger Food Catering for some guidance.
What About Food Trucks?
Some people choose to use a food truck to cater for their wedding instead of a traditional catering company. There are pros and cons to doing this.
The benefits of a food truck are pretty obvious. First of all, they are very cool. They give your wedding a trendy edge and there are a lot of choices – pretty much any kind of food is available in a food truck.
Hiring a food truck can be quite a lot cheaper than using a traditional catering company. It also gives you more indoor space as there won’t be any caterers taking up space in your function room.
The downside to food trucks is that the wait for food can be quite long- you may need to send your guests out in smaller groups so that the queue is not too long.
Some food trucks can lay out food in a buffet-style outside the truck, but this will also lead to a long queue.
Food trucks are also weather dependent. If it is raining, cold or windy then your guests might find it frustrating or inconvenient.
It might put people off eating or ruin the mood of the party. You need to think about what the weather will be like on the day.
You also need to think about how long you need the food truck to be there on the day of the wedding. They tend to only stick around for a few hours, so you will need to plan your day carefully around them.
Organizing the catering for your wedding is quite a big job, but it is not as daunting as you might think. If you follow the above steps then you should be able to sort it out with no hitches.