Tips on Finding a Wedding Caterer

April 9, 2015

Many of the wedding venue options in the Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Orange Park and Amelia Island area allow you to bring in your own catering companies.  This is a great option that many brides and grooms love because they have a lot of flexibility in their wedding menu.

Planning the wedding feast 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.

A professional caterer 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 the enthusiasm. Make sure you create a list of questions to ask your caterer!

Finding Professional Service

There is no substitute for professionalism and experience. When selecting your caterer, check out the caterers listed in Premier Bride magazine or at one of the Premier Bride Expo’s! If you go to an expo you can observe the professionalism of the 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.

A Meal to Remember

Ah yes, the food. To ensure a quality meal, schedule a meeting with the chef who will prepare it. All of our catering companies provide tastings for you and your groom, remembering your enjoyment there will be the measure of your guest’s enjoyment at the wedding reception.  These tastings allow you to sample food and work out a custom menu for your wedding!

Catering Budget

Found a caterer whose food and service you like? Great. Can you afford them? 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.  Make sure each caterer gives you a detailed quote about the expenses.

Down to 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. 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 postponement policies and cancellation policies. If you have any questions or concerns, this is the time to openly discuss them with your caterer.

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