Planning Tips: What To Look for in a Wedding Caterer

Wedding planning can be a bit stressful, especially when it comes to choosing a caterer. You want a memorable meal that will please – this is the first meal you’ll have as a married couple, after all! But with so many talented chefs and great teams behind them, how do you know which pro is right for you? How do you narrow it down? Here are some planning tips and things you should consider before hiring a caterer for your big day:

consider range of menu and services:

Can they create custom dishes? Deal with allergies and special requests? 

The food at your wedding should be a reflection of you as a couple, so if you wanted a specific dish recreated from that magical vacation you took in Hawaii, or an elevated version of the appetizers you shared on your first date there should be no limits! An excellent caterer will be able to offer customization and make all your culinary dreams come true.

Additionally, caterers should also be able to deal with allergies and special requests with ease. If you ask and are met with resistance it’s not a great sign – you shouldn’t have to work with someone who is unable to provide for every single one of your guests.

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Will the caterer make special meals for children and other wedding pros? What does the caterer charge for each?

If you’re having a child-friendly wedding, you’ll want to be considerate of your little guests! But double check on pricing – most caterers won’t count a child as a “full” person.

And for your other wedding pros – double check your contracts with each one of them. Many will have a “vendor meal” requirement. Caterers will often create special meals for vendors at a lower cost than the meal being served to your guests. Be sure to discuss the details with your caterer so you can make the best decision for you vendors and budget.

Do they offer more than just food and beverage services? Can they assist with other aspects of the wedding? 

Some caterers will be able to offer more than just food, and a full-scale event planning company will have a lot of services to choose from.  Consider how the company might help with event design, timeline, and day-of coordination. Many will offer wedding planning services, or even rentals such as table linens and china in their packages. If you’re looking for a cohesive event, it’s great to take advantage of the various services offered.

Do they design and display food in a unique way that coordinates with your wedding theme?

If you’re planning on having a cocktail hour station, or even a buffet, consider if the caterers offer decorative elements and how they present the food being displayed. Will you need to get creative on your own, or does their team utilize what they have in stock to be able to best present your canapes in a gorgeous way?

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communication and professionalism:

Are they getting back to you promptly? Responding to questions in full?

A caterer that is difficult to get a hold of is a red flag! And if you’re fighting to get straight answers it’s not a good sign, either. A professional team will be sure to answer your questions and make you feel heard and understood. No detail will go overlooked throughout correspondence, meaning no detail will go overlooked on the day of!

schedule for the day:

Are they working any other weddings or events on the same day as yours? 

Many catering companies will book more than one event in a day, which definitely does not have to be a deal breaker. A great team will be more than fully staffed to handle this. In fact, working with a larger professional catering company that is fully equipped to handle these commitments gives you peace of mind because they have a backup plan for a backup plan to make sure your big day goes as smoothly as possible!

Will your menu be created entirely off-site or are they relying on your venue to be able to pull things together.

A caterer with a commercial kitchen is imperative for couples looking for a unique wedding day menu – this is required Nashville health codes. If you menu involves any prep work or cooking on site (and many full-service meals do), your caterer will need space to do this. It’s important to understand what your venue can offer by way of a commerical kitchen or prep-space. Which brings us to the next point…

their connections and their references:

Have they worked with your venue before?

You’ll want your wedding pro to have great connections with many different venues – it’s always a good sign of a well respected and reputable business. If your venue has a commercial kitchen for caterers to use, has your caterer been there before? Are they used to the equipment and the constraints? You’ll want to know.

Plus, if the catering and venue teams have worked together before there’s an even better chance of smooth sailing the day of. From cocktail hour, to dinner, to dessert, you’ll take comfort in knowing that these are businesses that are experienced in collaborating together.

Do they have references or are they reviewed well online? Any special awards?

Accolades are given where they are deserved. While you can’t always trust every previous client or bride, there should generally be an overall positive consensus on the caterer and catering team you’re going to go with. If they don’t have any, be sure to ask for references.

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insurance and other logistics:

Are they licensed and insured? Not cooking your wedding feast out of their home kitchen?

Last but definitely not least – licenses & insurance! A professional catering company that is licensed and insured will have met local health department standards. Definitely a very good thing! You’ll have to hire pros who have proven their abilities to create delicious meals while maintaining health and safety protocol.

Choosing the right caterer for your event doesn’t have to be difficult! Pick our brains at – we’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have about your big day.

Photos by Jen and Chris Creed.