Post # 1
So I have my first caterer meetings tomorrow, which is exciting, but I’m not really sure what is going to go on. I know we’ll talk about my "vision" for the food, and while I don’t know every single detail of what I want, I’ve got a pretty good idea. For those of you who’ve had your initial meetings, can you give me a run-through of what went on, approximately how long it took, etc.? Did you get to taste any of their food the first time? I don’t know how comfortable I am booking a caterer without having tasted any of their food. That seems odd to me. They can talk a big game but at the end of the day, it’s about the quality and tastiness of the food, right?
Anyway, please share any experiences and advice. I’ve got appointment anxiety.
Post # 3
We had a tasting at our meeting. I was not going to book with a caterer without tasting their food! Our meeting took about two hours. They left us alone to taste and came back in the room after we were done everything to discuss what we liked and didn’t like.
Have you gotten a proposal from the caterer yet? We got that before we had our tasting and went over it at the tasting. We went over any additional charges that were not included in the contract, and we also went over some basic set-up ideas for the reception.
Post # 4
- Wedding: August 2009 - St. Thomas of Villanova Church & the F.U.E.L. House
Our caterer is completely awesome, and did an at-cost tasting (~ %60) for me and the mister while we were deciding who to hire. Can you try to arrange something similar? I agree it’s tough to book without knowing what the food’s like, but you might also be able to get references and speak with former clients to get an idea of the caterer’s quality.
I’d make sure what the contract covers — ours, for example, doesn’t include a cake, so we’re working with a bakery for that part! Also, do you need to rent anything for your venue? Our caterer was insistent that he be the one to place that order, and refresh it in the weeks leading up to the wedding, so he’s sure everything we (and he) need(s) will be there!
Happy to share more about how we went about picking our caterer — we looked at / talked to about six companies. Feel free to PM me!
Post # 5
- Wedding: September 2009 - Harbison Chapel & The Maple Lane Farm
Do not book without tasting! We chose someone because they catered out of a ‘big city’ and had really nice menus, pictures, etc, bc we weren’t in town to taste. We worked with them for months – then we finally tasted the food. It. was. awful. I say cardboard, and I mean cardboard. It looked nice but it tasted bad. So definitely taste! Insist on it! We were scrambling 3 months till the big day to find someone new.
Ask about rentals – what you will need to rent v what they have (and what you might need to rent from them). Ask about staffing, the caterer we are now with books a bartender separately so he was not included in the staff quote, we had to request him. Also if you have a DOC mention it. Our first caterer tried to convince me we didn’t need one even though she wasn’t listening to a single one of my ideas – we booked our DOC the next day. If I think of anything else I will add! Good luck!
Post # 6
I’d ask them how they serve the food. Can they give you a detailed time line of how the day will run? Do they set up the tables? Centerpieces? Can you drop off decorations at their location before the wedding and have them transport them to the wedding site?
If you’re having a buffet or seated meal, how does the caterer manage who eats first? Do they delegate that responsibility to someone else?
Don’t forget to ask if you can BYOB and if there’s a corkage fee!
Post # 7
Make sure to ask how long prior to the wedding they make the food! Many places make the food hours before and just leave it….then heat it up in a warming drawer as they take it onsite. This can make many meats/fish dry, veggies limp and carbs turn to cardboard. Many times it is impossible for most caterers to avoid having the food sit around for a bit. That just can’t happen when you have lots of people offsite at an event – they cook beforehand and truck in the food. Just realize this going into the tasting (any reputable caterer will allow you to do a tasting). You might want to ask the caterer which foods hold up best in these situations. There are so many fantastic caterers out there…..not to mention you are getting married in August, when there are SO many great in-season veggies and fruits! You will find someone who will do a superb job!