A complete guidebook to hiring a wedding caterer
Drawing from years of experience, our general wedding catering manager provided top insider tips that will help you secure the most fabulous wedding food for your celebration.
At this point of your wedding planning you have most likely already booked a hall for the reception, and have contacted a fair number of wedding planners and coordinators to select the team of wedding pros that you are going to trust with the success of your once-in-a-lifetime celebration.
How to choose a wedding caterer?
We advise that you start your hunt for a wedding caterer that can provide excellent food and top-notch quality of service around 9 months before your wedding takes place. This could begin either before or after you’ve secured a wedding venue – some wedding caterers in the capital will give you a helpful hand when booking a suitable event space and vice versa – many function rooms for hire will have their own preferred catering providers that they wish you to choose from.
Keep reading for our TOP FIVE tips on selecting the right wedding catering company for your reception, and what to look out for to prevent disappointment further along the way.
#1 Don’t go over the board with uniqueness
If in recent weeks you’ve become a massive sushi lover or have been really digging Asian cuisine, introducing something out of ordinary to your wedding menu may be a great opportunity to make the wedding food really memorable for your wedding guests. Consult with your caterer about the option of including a dish you absolutely cannot imagine your wedding party without.
On the other hand, it’s customary to consider the different preferences and taste buds of your friends and family – not every guest may be intrigued by seafood the same way that Yorkshire pudding may not float your boat. Be considerate – include some universal classics with a twist that combine versatility with recent trends in wedding catering and the finesse of mouth-watering food presentation. Making your guests feel uncomfortable and put on the spot when they are about to dig in should definitely be OFF your wedding checklist.
One other thing that your wedding caterer should be able to reassure you about on the very first meeting, is that they use top-quality, fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
#2 Someone has already taken the caterer for a test drive
If anyone of your family or friends recently tied the knot, ask them for caterer referrals – there is no testimony that’s more true and honest than word of mouth from people closest to you. Alternatively, if you’ve already got a particular catering company in mind, look up their reviews online.
Don’t be afraid to hit up people who they have catered for previously – you will get honest opinion that can flag up any potential obstacles waiting for you along the way. Ask if the food was tasty, served elegantly and hot; were they satisfied with food presentation and table service/clearing? Were there any surprising add-ons on the final bill that there shouldn’t have been, and what was the rough cost per guest? Did the catering fee include alcoholic drinks and signature cocktails; was the catering tableware hire included? Enquire whether the caterer was helpful over the course of table arrangements and how much time was needed for the set-up before the reception and clearing of the venue at the end of the night.
#3 Check your wedding hall’s list of preferred wedding caterers
Most of London’s reception venues will have their own string of wedding vendors and caterers they closely work with, unless they already offer their own in-house catering for the events that their facilities hold. Look at it from this perspective – a recommended wedding caterer will have visited the venue dozens of times before, they’ll know the building like the back of their hand and most likely already dealt with some unexpected bumps during receptions at that particular venue. Therefore they will be more than qualified to foresee any issues before they emerge, preventing a wedding disaster.
#4 Face-to-face appointments and reception timeline
Start off with some online research for a suitable wedding caterer, making sure to look at the photo gallery of their previous wedding jobs – this will give you the first indication of whether this is the company you want to cater at your wedding. Check their website and social media profiles for their recent work.
It’s imperative that they have adequate commercial kitchen facilities and a talented chef leading a team of professionals that will create a sensational food experience at your reception.
Professional wedding caterers usually schedule pre-wedding tastings that take place at their office or the venue that they are residents of, as one of your first appointments. Alternatively, you should be able to have samples ready packed and waiting for you to pick up from their HQ. If you are having a professional wedding planner helping you with the design and coordination of your big wedding preparations, take them with you – they will, most likely, take the weight of asking the right questions off your shoulders.
#5 What is included in wedding catering price?
Upon the first meeting, you should be given the first indication of what the estimated price per guest could be, depending on which wedding menu you go for. Most caterers will have some standard sets of dishes to choose from, or they can provide a base that is later adjusted to suit your preferences. They will use their wealth of experience in catering for events to transform your ideas into delightful creations.
If you decide to book a three course bespoke wedding dinner with a selection of the finest desserts, during your consultation the caterer should be able to provide you with a starting price for booking with them. Enquire if their pricing is inclusive of serviceware, tableware, glassware and linen – this tends to vary between companies and absolutely should not be an indication not to use a certain catering provider – but if they do provide an all-round service it will make your life easier and you can cross another thing off your wedding checklist.
Professional companies catering at weddings will most likely be keen to only work with their own waiting and bartending staff, to assure the most seamless table service of the highest quality.
Looking into organising a different type of private party? Why not have a look into our complete guide to choosing the right catering company for an event.
Thank you for reading our blog! We are SEASONED – a well-established event caterer delivering flawless catering services to weddings, private parties and corporate events. We hope you found our tips on selecting the right company to cater at your wedding helpful – otherwise contact one of our team to seek obligation-free advice on choosing the right service provider.