Food is a wedding highlight for most guests. So, you want it to be good. Quickly narrow down your options (and eat some really good food) with our guide to finding the perfect wedding caterer.
We love every part of weddings—from the planning to the thank you notes—but why lie? We’re especially excited about the food. Whether it’s a passed hors d’oeuvre and appetizers or a seated dinner, meal time at a wedding is a bonding time for you and your guests. So, you want to get the food right on your wedding day.
While many wedding venues require you use a specific catering service, that’s not always the case. And when it isn’t, you’re on your own. But this is food we’re talking about—caterer shopping amidst wedding planning should be fun. That said, here’s how to choose a wedding caterer.
Sit-down wedding dinners are the most traditional choice. In some cases, wedding guests choose between a handful of entrée choices and submit their preference ahead of time—usually via a dinner card included in your invitation suite. Once at the reception, a professional waitstaff serves each course.
Wedding buffets include a variety of menu items spread out on long self-serve tables or serving stations. This setup allows your guests to freely approach the foods of their choosing and can make accommodating special diets much simpler. It also lends a laid-back feeling to your reception with more mingling time.
Picture eating dinner with your family. Large serving platters of food are brought to the table to be passed around. Guests serve themselves and waitstaff bring and clear plates, as needed.
Now that you know how you want your food to be served, you need to decide what type of food you want to serve. We are in the camp that says you should serve the food you want to have at your wedding. However, there are some considerations to think about.
These considerations should help you narrow down the search for your perfect catering company. Now you can seek out those caterers who specialize in the food and serving style you prefer.
Whichever route you take, read recent reviews or talk to people who have used each service. Some insider intel will help you skip out on any unnecessary meetings.
Here, you’re getting to know each other and figuring out if they fit into your vision. Whether this happens over video call or in person, it’s the representative’s chance to get as much information as they can to prepare a proposal. It’s also your chance to see all they have to offer.
Before you meet, gather a bit more info. Make sure you have the following prepared:
To make sure you’re getting the absolute most accurate and helpful information, here are some wedding catering questions to guide your conversations.
Once you’ve narrowed your catering choices down to two to three options, we recommend scheduling tastings. The food, after all, will speak for itself.
Not all caterers offer free conventional tastings. Some will require you to hire the company before you can taste the food. If you can’t set up a free tasting with your caterer options, there are a few ways around this. Check to see if the company takes part in expos or similar events. You’ll be paying an attendance fee, but trust us, it’s worth it. If the caterer has a restaurant, eat there. Call ahead to let management know you’re interested in catering for a wedding—the chef may send a few recommendations or dishes your way. If you really love the experience, consider holding a restaurant wedding reception there.
Otherwise, many caterers offer tastings for a fee. This goes towards ingredients, preparation, and consultation. If you’re willing to pay, you can typically discuss which dishes you’d like to try. However, if your tasting is included in the catering service, be prepared to pick from a pre-selected menu.
You’ve memorized some wedding catering tips, decided on your caterer, gone through tastings, crafted a menu, and outlined all of the fees and services. Now you’re ready to sign a contract! Be aware of any deadlines to adjust or change menu items and your guest count. From there, bon appétit to your big day.
By hiring vendors you adore, you can guarantee a wedding day filled with spirited dancing, sensational food, enchanting florals, and of course, love.
For help finding wedding caterers and other vendors in your area, use Zola’s free vendor search tool. With Zola, you can narrow down vendors based on your wedding location, style, budget, schedule, and needs. Zola makes discovering your perfect vendors as stress-free as possible.
For the best wedding vendors, expert advice, and all your wedding day needs, choose Zola.
We’ve got wedding planning advice on everything from save the dates to wedding cakes.