Updated: May 22
Whether it’s done in-house as part of your reception venue or an independent contractor the major consideration for your reception will be your food and drink choices. From simple cocktail style with hors d’oeuvers and canapés to a plated sit down dinner, finding a fantastic wedding caterer is key to the success of your reception.
The right wedding caterer will figure out all the you need in terms of budget, guest count and menu options. You may have chosen you venue not just for it’s location, atmosphere and ambiance, it may very well be because of the excellent menus available in house. NOT SO SILLY QUESTIONS - What Questions To Ask Your Wedding Venue Before You Book But what if you need to find someone independently?
Research and Booking Early
If your wedding reception venue doesn't offer in-house catering, they may have list of preferred vendors with can be an excellent start. Once you have a short list organise appointments to meet them. Book the one you love so you don’t miss out on your date.
You can also research your own - Finding Your Perfect Wedding Vendor Is As Easy As 1,2,3! Use Instagram or Pinterest to find inspiration. Check with restaurants you love to go to to see if they do outside catering or events. Ask your other vendors if they can recommend anyone that they have worked with from previous weddings. VENDORS WE LOVE
Consider Venue and Catering in Tandem.
Work on both at the same time to help eliminated problems down the track. You need to consider the logistics of outside catering within the venue you have chosen to ensure that they kind of meal service you are after is actually possible with the infrastructure and distances involved. It’s critical that they communicate well with each other so they are on the same page about everything that needs to happen.
Have a Realistic Budget
The reception will be one of your largest wedding expenses - particularly if you are having cocktail hour, a formal plated service and open bar. Your budget will influence the kind of meal service you choose. Cost per head and the number of guests (or minimum spend required) needs to be realistically calculated so your are comfortable in making the kind of food choices (sandwiches or lobster), beverages (open bar, limited bar, cash bar) and service ( cocktail, buffet, plated etc) for your reception.
Be Prepared For Your Meeting
Have some idea of what you would like at least in terms of the type of meal service (formal to informal) and beverage package, if not the specific menu or beverage choices and your budget overall and per head. When you set up the appointment ask if you can do some “sampling" at the same time and if so how many people can be involved. .
Venue & Availability
Do you have our wedding date available?
Do you have any other obligations that day?
How will your staff balance multiple events that day (or weekend)?
Have you ever catered at our venue before?
Can you accomplish our vision at our venue?
What are your specific needs to be able to cater at our venue?
How much space will you need at the venue?
Whats the set-up and clean-up times required at our venue?
Food & Drink
Do you have a static menu, or can you do a custom menu?
What are your most popular dishes?
Do you charge a bulk fee, cost per head or minimum spend?
What is the difference between a plated meal, buffet, cocktail, etc.?
Do you offer children’s meals and how much are they?
Do provide vendor meals and how much are they?
Do you cater for special dietary needs
Will food be made on-site or brought in?
When do need final menu choices?
When do you need a final headcount?
Where do you source your food from?
Can/how will you handle last-minute requests?
What are the portion sizes?
What do you do with leftovers?
Do you make wedding cakes as well?
If not, will you provide cake cutting services and what does that cost?
Do you offer other desserts?
Can you provide bartending services?
If so, will we need to provide alcohol, or do you provide it?
Do you include non-alcoholic beverages in your packages?
Logistics & Details
How many weddings have you done in the past?
Do you have photos of past events and references from past clients?
Do you provide linens, table settings, and accessories
What colours and styles are they?
If not can you coordinate the rental of these?
Will your staff handle setting place cards and menus, if desired?
What is your typical server to guest ratio?
Do you have the proper catering license requirements and liability insurance?
Will you obtain any special event permits if needed?
Will there be an onsite coordinator on our wedding day?
Can we meet them ahead of time?
Can you provide a copy of your standard contract?
What amount of the deposit will hold our date?
When will the remainder be due?
Do you offer a payment plan?
What is your cancellation policy? What if it's due to Covid?
Are there any special Covid requirements?
Your guest will be talking about the fantastic food and drink at your reception for years to come, so make sure it’s for all the right reasons!