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A Catered BuffetSelecting a caterer is one of the key decisions you’ll make while planning your wedding. You want your food to be delicious and eye-catching, yet you also need to ensure that your ideas will not break the bank. If you’ve never hired a professional catering service before, the prospect might feel a little daunting. Here’s a few useful tips to help you find the best vendor for your special day, as well as some things you should know before signing on the dotted line.

Know Your Budget

The factors that typically drive your wedding day finances are the time and date of your event, its level of formality and the size of the guest list. Reception food costs can vary widely, but the Ever After Guide estimates that the per-plate price averages around $30 at most weddings. That translates to $4,200 for 140 attendees. If that seems out of your range, consider paring down your guest list, planning a less formal affair or selecting a different day and time. Alternatively, you could choose a simpler menu with fewer courses, which would still give you some serious bang for your buck while spending less of them.

Consider Your Venue

You’ve got a lot of potential options when it comes to caterers. If you select a country club, hotel or reception hall, you’ve managed to knock two things off your list at once: the location and the food vendor. However, keep in mind that some may not have staff trained in preparing specialized menus such as vegan fare or cuisines from Africa, Asia or the Americas. If you’ve got your heart set on an Indian menu or a hearty Lebanese meal at your reception, you may wish to hold your shindig at a restaurant instead. Those having weddings in a house of worship might also choose to use their fellowship halls or spring for an outdoor venue such as a park or beach.

Questions, Questions

Once you’ve pared down your list of likely caterers, your next step should be to vet each one by asking some critical questions. First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure that the vendors you want are available on your wedding date. At the same time, make sure they have the appropriate food service and alcohol licenses issued by your local government agency. This usually means they’ve met the applicable health codes and in most cases, possess liability insurance coverage. However, it doesn’t hurt to ensure that they have liquor liability insurance as well. Once these basics are out of the way, you’ll want to get answers to other important interrogatives:

  • Are they catering other events during the same time period as yours?
  • What staff and service do they offer with the meal?
  • What are their final deadlines for menu choices?
  • Is there an extra charge for meals prepared for guests with dietary restrictions?
  • Do they provide dishware, silverware and seating, if needed?
  • Do they offer food tasting or sampling before hiring?

If you’re not sure what else to ask, this exhaustive list from the Brides website might also be a great starting point.

Get Off on the Right Foot With Your Food Choices

Depending on where in the United States you live, expect your total food and drink costs to take up between 35 and 65 percent of your wedding day budget. Given such a large investment, selecting the best caterer for your affair is vital. However, tracking down the right provider just requires a little research, patience and diligence. Keeping your budget in mind, making sure your venue supports your desired menu choices and asking the right questions are a good start to locating the perfect professional for your big day.

Category: Wedding Planning Ceremonies


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