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How do we choose a caterer?

Marriage equality is finally here! My sister just walked down the aisle with her partner of 27 years. Although long overdue, the sense of joy and meaning will be forever cherished by all of us who shared in their very special day. Every couple deserves a very personal and inspired wedding celebration that reflects their love and tells their unique story. The processes, the planning, the research and the expenses can be daunting at first, but if you take a deep breath and break down the process into digestible segments, you will be just fine. Couples have been successfully planning their weddings for hundreds of years, now it’s your turn.

Hiring the right caterer for your special day is one of the most important aspects of your planning process. After all, the venue, food, drink, service staff and table settings will consume the largest portion of your wedding budget. Your first step is to determine what you want out of a catered meal and what you want your guests to experience – level of formality; plated, buffet or stations; type of menu and food; and level of creativity and innovation. Once you have determined what you want out of the catering program, the next step is to determine your budget.

Budgeting can be one of the most challenging aspects of planning a wedding. Decide how much you’re willing to spend upfront and clearly communicate this when vetting potential caterers. It is important to understand that there are many other aspects beyond the food that contribute to a successful catering experience, and it is important to have a handle on what services and items are integral but not necessarily included in a caterer’s price. Don’t waste your time looking at pricey caterers who are clearly outside of your budget range. Be certain to have a clear understanding of what the quoted price covers to ensure you are comparing apples to apples. If you have to add the cost of cake-cutting and coffee service or set up and breakdown to the least expensive caterer’s quote, it may end up being comparable in price to the most expensive! This can feel overwhelming. Look for a caterer who will assist you early in the education process.  Potential costs should be laid out upfront.

In order to avoid costly surprises, find out exactly what is included; for example,

  • Tables, chairs, tableware and linens
  • Service and culinary staff and bartenders
  • Cutting and serving the cake
  • Pouring champagne for the toast
  • Providing coffee service
  • Set up and breakdown of reception
  • Transportation, trucking and equipment
  • Liability insurance

Do your research! Look at their menus and their photo galleries. Check out their Facebook page, where professional photographers may have tagged them in photos. Read their reviews – WeddingWire, The Knot and even Yelp are great resources to find out what other couples have shared about their experience with the caterer.

The most important questions are those you ask before you select your caterer. Make sure they are not only gay-friendly but sensitive to the needs of the LGBT community. Some qualities to look for and questions to ask:

  • Flexibility with menu and presentation requests
  • Ability to accommodate special diets and needs such as      vegetarian, vegan and children’s menu options
  • Dessert and wedding cake options
  • How and where the food is prepared – ideally on location so     it is fresh and maintains the highest standard of quality
  • Staff-to-guest ratio
  • Ability to assist with other aspects of the wedding like     providing wedding cakes, floral arrangements and décor or a   photographer. Is their wait staff able to help with some of the    day-of details like setting out place cards and party favors?
  • Good communication, organization and response time
  • Longevity and reputation

Check to see if the caterer offers a tasting experience. A tasting will allow you to fully experience the quality, style and presentation of their food.  Caterers usually require a small fee to cover a tasting that occurs in the discovery phase, but they should give you a credit towards the total cost of your event catering should you book their services for your wedding.

Expect a lot from your caterer. Remember, this is your wedding day so do not hesitate to ask lots of questions! A good caterer should understand your overall vision for the day and listen to your ideas. They should be able to use their wealth of experience and talent and build upon your ideas to go above and beyond your expectations for your special day. So do your research, communicate your budget and your vision and your particular needs, and most importantly, have fun in the process! Happy planning!

Eggwhites Special Event Catering