Tips for finding & working with your Wedding Caterer (Part1)
Your Wedding Day
Your Wedding Day will be one of the most important days of your life! You know, the day you dreamed of - where you are swept off your feet, with your closest friends and family celebrating with you. You will profess your love to the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with, and, well, that day is coming quickly! And as you plan for that exciting day you’ll want to make sure that the guests experience a day that is as exciting to them as it is to you. Everything on your Wedding Day needs to be just perfect. And that includes the food.
So, we put together a list of things you’ll want to consider when looking for the perfect caterer for your Perfect Wedding Day.
Congratulations! You're engaged... Now what?
* Start planning NOW. Everyone knows the key to success is to plan ahead and be organized. Now is the time to decide what type of atmosphere you would like to create on your special day. Is it formal? A daytime or evening event? Visualize your event and take notes.
* Research caterers through their websites, local wedding planners, recently married friends, etc. Narrow the list to 3 or 4 and begin the conversation by filling out a website form or making a phone call for an appointment. Your Wedding Day is a big event and food is a big part of the event. You want to find a caterer you will have confidence in, one that will easily understand your vision for the Big Day. Your research will eventually narrow the choices and you then can begin the process of working out the details.
* Think about your budget and what’s most important. Because once you’ve got a budget, it becomes easier to make choices. What is the most important area to consider first in the budget? The location, the food, the entertainment? Are there areas where you’d be willing to be frugal so you are able to spend lavishly in another area? Pencil out your budget so you know approximately how much you can spend on the location, food, etc., then…
* Choose your location immediately. Many great locations schedule a year or more in advance so they fill their calendar quickly. Again, consider what type of wedding you want: church wedding, garden setting, beside a lake, in a winery? Check whether the location also includes amenities, such as tables, chairs, tents, etc. since these will influence the budget.
* Ask the location about their arrangements with caterers. This is a critical piece to choosing your location and your caterer. Many venues require you to use their in-house caterer or list of “preferred” caterers. Sometimes a venue that has its own catering will allow outside caterers under special circumstances, but you have to ask! Do the research about caterers BEFORE you book a date to be sure your vision of your Perfect Day can be fulfilled at this location.
* Set the date ASAP. If you and your partner can be flexible with your date you will have an easier time scheduling at your chosen location. Keep in mind the favorite time for weddings is during the summer and the “premium" days fill up quickly, especially Saturdays. Once you find the right date be sure to place a deposit as quickly as possible to hold the date.
Now you can begin to plan the details with your team of wedding professionals, including your chosen caterer. Don't be afraid to ask for your Dream Wedding!
* Ask for price range when shopping for a caterer. The best way to find out how well your budget fits with your vendors is to find out what their average range is. Actual detailed quotes take time to put together so if you are just window shopping find out the average price range for weddings. That will help you quickly determine if a certain caterer’s services will meet your budgetary guidelines. (Check out Crave's wedding menus.)
* Let the caterer you chose know what elements of service are most important to you? Do you envision a sit down dinner, food stations, buffet, or maybe even family style food? Consider things like pre-ceremony cocktails and late night snacks – these are always a fun treat! An experienced caterer will have many suggestions from his/her background of creative services.
* What about the style of the food? Do you have a particular style of food in mind? Is it creative, eclectic, simple, elegant, or rustic? And what flavors excite you? Northwest Regional, Southwestern, Barbecue, Farm to Table? (At Crave Catering we are passionate about flavor and tend to attract the foodie clients who are crazy about Farm to Table.)
* Ask your caterer about their food sources. Is the food frozen and reheated or freshly made? Is it locally sourced? You may prefer a caterer who makes everything from scratch, in-house, like we do at Crave. (We also proudly source our ingredients primarily from Local Farms and Artisans. This includes The Crave Family Farm - our very own Farm in Battle Ground Washington, Gathering Together Farm, St. Helens Beef, Draper Valley Chicken, Flying Fish Seafood Company, and Classic Foods Portland.)
* What about beverages? Will you offer alcohol or not? Beer and wine, or a full bar, or maybe even some signature cocktails can tell a part of your story – maybe you met at a local brewpub (local beer); or maybe on a vacation to New Orleans (New Orleans Hurricane); or at a fund-raising dinner for the local food bank (regional wine). Be sure to offer plenty of non-alcoholic options for your guests too. And make sure there’s plenty to drink.
Your trusted caterer will skillfully guide you thru all the decisions to create your Dream Wedding Day.
If you are interested in being among the first to read part 2? We will be placing a link on our facebook page first. You can also like us if you feel son inspired.