Tips on Hiring a Caterer

October 16, 2014

Planning for the food at your wedding reception doesn’t have to be complicated. A good caterer will deliver an excellent meal and impeccable service within the specifications of your contract and budget – the key is great communication with them!

Professional caterers’ should share your enthusiasm for pleasing each guest, but unfortunately, that’s not the only qualifier. You’ll want to address budget, service, the meal itself, and a variety of details with your caterer to make sure that the qualifications match your dreams and expectations.

Start with Premier Bride of Northeast Florida

There is no substitute for professionalism and experience and the caterers featured in our magazine hold these qualities. When selecting your caterer, ask them for  referrals and observe the professionalism of their  staff. Extremely attentive service for a sit-down meal or cocktail party would require one server for every 10 guests; for a buffet the number is significantly less. Service is still quite good with one server for every 15 to 20 guests. A good caterer will be able to explain these ratios and make suggestions for the best service style and the appropriate number of servers for your budget.

Make an Impression

Guests always remember the food. To ensure a quality meal, schedule a meeting with the chef who will prepare it.  Almost all caterers will hold a private dinner sampling for you and your groom and other decision makers (typically 4 people) once you have booked with them.  This provides you an opportunity to try the food and pick out the entrees and sides that you like best.  Another option is to attend a bridal expo where many caterers have samples of their food!

The Catering Budget

Found a caterer whose food and service you like? Great. Can you afford them? Most caterers can work with any budget and help you create a menu to fit it. The best way to determine the catering budget is to decide how much you will spend on each guest. Multiply that dollar amount by the number of guests expected. Then add an additional 10 percent to cover overage and approximately 17 to 20 percent for gratuities. Don’t forget to add your local applicable taxes and any extras that aren’t included in the price.

Details, Details!

Once you’ve decided on a caterer then take the time to determine as many additional details as possible. Have a firm agreement, and thoroughly examine your contract. Make sure it clearly states dates, costs and when deposits are due. Many caterers can also help you with linens, silverware, napkins and other elements needed to complete your special day.  If you have a wedding planner, they should also be able to help you navigate your contract and make sure that no details are left out.   Your contract should also specify the food and beverages to be served and stipulate the number of servers needed. Check to see that all the services you requested are listed in the contract, such as centerpieces, the wedding cake, decorations for the room and head table and other labor intensive additions such as ice sculptures or any other additional needs. Carefully review all policies and including cancellation policies. If you have any questions or concerns, this is the time to openly discuss them with your caterer. Also ask your caterer about providing a bar if your reception venue allows it!

For a list of caterers in Northeast Florida visit our Catering Category 

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