3 Tips for Selecting a Wedding Caterer

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Wedding caterersObviously no wedding can be complete without an incredible feast, and as such picking a wedding caterer is extremely important. 

Whether you have 50 guests or 500, the process of filtering through a bunch of wedding caterers to find the best possible one can be tricky.  What follows are some tips to help ease the process.

First and foremost, the primary consideration is your overall wedding budget.  The average cost for catering that is “all-in” (food, booze and service) is typically around $90-$100 per head, but you can reduce this cost significantly if you are willing to give some things up.  For example, foregoing the alcohol might save approximately $20 per head, and eliminating hors d’oeuvres might save you, say, another $30 per head.  If you are really tight financially, you can probably find a caterer that would be willing to offer a bare-bones buffet for $20-$30 per head.  As you can clearly see, your overall budget will serve as the framework for this decision.

Second, like any wedding planning activity, it is important to get an early start.  Waiting until the last minute will pretty much ensure that you won’t be able to snag your top choice.  Ideally, you will want to do some research, get a few referrals, and otherwise start the process about 1 year prior to the actual wedding.

Third, it is important to actually meet with your “short list” of wedding caterers.  Your short list will be derived by doing your homework and checking references.  These meetings are great opportunities to gauge the professionalism of each company, taste some food samples, view photos of prior catering jobs, and ask lots of questions.  In terms of the questions, you will want to ask about things like whether or not the wedding cake is included, whether or not items such as linens and utensils are provided, what specific fees are charged (clean up & corkage fees for example), and what the payment and cancellation policies are.

Once you’ve determined your budget, shopped around, and met with your short list of possible wedding caterers, it’s time to make a decision.  At this point it’s a good idea to weigh all the options and go with your gut, but just make sure that you are 100% positive that your decision is the correct one because if you change your mind later you will probably lose your deposit (not to mention, a whole lot of time).  Just be diligent, be careful, and most of all, be realistic.  Good luck!

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