As far as wedding expenses go, your catering
or food bill is typically your largest expense (45-50%
of most wedding budgets). Therefore, choose your caterer
carefully. Spend plenty of time with your caterer talking
about your budget, the style of reception you’d
like (i.e. buffet, food stations, sit down dinner or cocktail
reception) and the types of food that you’d like
If you are unfamiliar with the caterer,
always schedule a "tasting" to sample their
culinary skills and take note that the food is attractively
Check References! Many brides ask for
references but never call them. Make at least TWO reference
phone calls. Don’t by shy, remember -- brides love
to talk about their wedding!
When hiring your caterer, be sure to ask
about the dinnerware or china they will be using. Some
caterers will include all the dinnerware in their price
- but they may be chipped, scratched and worn out. So,
ask to see samples to make sure that the place settings
nicely compliment the rest of your wedding decor.
Service is an extremely important element
when choosing your caterer. Be sure to ask about the ratio
of servers to guests. Now, this can vary depending on
the type of reception you have (seated dinner versus buffet).
One good rule of thumb is to have one server for every
When determining a final head count for
your caterer, you should include a meal for your entertainer
(DJ or Band), photographer and Wedding Day Coordinator.
But, always confirm with these vendors that they do want
a meal before you include them in your head count. And,
make sure to separate these from your guest head count
because your caterer will usually charge you less for
If your caterer is providing meals for
your DJ, Band or photographer, be sure to ask your caterer
where the meals will be served for them and confirm that
they will be eating somewhere "out of sight"
from your wedding guests.
Ask your caterer to prepare a "leftover
basket" that is a sampling of all the food at your
reception. It's likely that the bride and groom will not
get a chance to eat and enjoy all of the wonderful food
at the reception. Even if you're leaving the next day
on your honeymoon, it makes for a great late night snack.
Be sure to ask your caterer about "guaranteed
numbers". Many caterers will quote prices based upon
a minimum or "guaranteed" number of guests.
Many base their figures on a minimum of 100 guests. If
your final guest count is less than a hundred, there may
be an additional fee.
Find out what decorations (if any) are
included in the caterer’s price. Ask to see pictures
of their table displays. Some caterers that do buffets
or food stations will include floral arrangements and
other decorations. As your wedding plans progress, talk
to your caterer about your color theme so that all decorations
and floral arrangements will coordinate.
A recent trend when doing buffets or food
stations is to have a menu board. This is where the names
of the entrees (and sometimes a brief description) and
items served are scrolled elegantly onto a piece of paper
displayed on a board or in a picture frame.
Be careful on how many hors d'oeuvres
you order. Do you really need eight different varieties?
You'd be surprised - some caterers will suggest this!
If you are doing hors d'oeuvres - four different varieties
is usually sufficient.