My Wedding Planning Guide
My Wedding Planning Guide                 Your Source For Expert Wedding Planning Ideas



How To Choose A Cheap Wedding Caterer And Questions To Ask Your Wedding Caterer

See also free wedding planning worksheets, how to decorate a wedding cake table and wedding planning guide

A wedding reception traditionally follows every wedding ceremony.  During the reception celebration, wedding guests greet the wedded couple, socialize among themselves, dance and maybe most importantly, they eat. 

The wedding reception meal, no matter if it consists of a 4 course dinner, hors d'oeuvres or a decadent dessert buffet, is the first meal that the newlyweds will share as a wedded couple. 

So, it's important that the reception meal be a memorable one.  That's where wedding catering comes in.

Helpful cheap Wedding Catering Ideas

For many couples, once they choose their wedding reception venue, the catering is already decided.  Lots of reception sites come complete with on-site catering.  If you have the choice to use the reception site's catering or use an outside vendor, often it's cheaper to use an outside catering company.  In this case, check out a few outside vendors and compare service and prices. 

But, you may end up going with the on-site catering anyway.  Using an in-house caterer makes the decisions easier for you and you can feel confident that the catering staff is familiar with the reception location.

If you are holding your wedding reception at a location that doesn't include catering as part of the package or you have chosen to work with an outside vendor for your catering, you need a plan in order to find an excellent caterer for your wedding.  Read on to learn the basic steps in finding a wedding caterer and other wedding catering ideas.

How do I get started in finding a wedding caterer?  The first thing you must do in your wedding caterer search is establish what you're looking for.  This means that you need to determine how much you're planning to spend on catering, what type of meal you'd like to have at the reception, a ballpark number of guests, where your wedding reception will be held and the set date and time of your wedding reception. 

Once you have an idea of the basics, it will be easier for you to get a clear picture of catering costs and you'll have the answers to other questions like if you need to rent china or table linens and if you'll be purchasing your own liquor for the bar.

How much money will I spend on catering?

You need a caterer that will be able to produce wonderful food at the best price possible.  The general rule of thumb is that you will spend 50% of your wedding budget on your reception and the majority of that is spent on catering. 

But, the catering budget really depends on what type of reception you're having ( i.e. sit down dinner versus a dessert buffet,) the food you choose (chicken is cheaper than filet mignon) and what other items you need to rent for your location (tents, china, linens, etc.) 

Once you determine those variables, you can go to different caterers with your plans and see what they can do.  Remember that when you talk caterers, be candid about what you can and can't afford. Caterers can often come up with creative ideas to give you the same type of menu you want while keeping costs within your budget.

Where can I find a wedding caterer?

There are many ways to find a wedding caterer. Once you've chosen your wedding reception site, inquire if the site has a list of recommended vendors. Professional caterers will be able to adapt to any location, but it may be beneficial to use a caterer that has previously worked with your reception site. Another great way to find a wedding caterer is to ask friends and relatives if they have any suggestions. Alternative resources for finding a caterer include the internet, bridal shows and bridal publications that are specific to your local area. If you have a favorite restaurant, you may also want to inquire if they cater large events. Above all, make sure that your caterer is experienced in catering for weddings.

Once you have a list of possible caterers, give each company a call and see if they have preliminary information to send you like sample menus and testimonials. Narrow down your list to a maximum of 4 caterers and set up meetings with each company. During the meetings, you'll want to ask the caterer questions and determine whether they are available for your wedding date and if their services are within your price range. If you are not familiar with the caterer's services, you may want to ask for a taste test. No matter what the caterer provides and how inexpensive the service is, if the food doesn't taste good you don't want them to cater your reception.

Below are a few questions to ask potential wedding caterers:

Are you available for my wedding date and time?

Have you ever worked at my reception venue before?

What types of meal service do you offer? Buffet, sit down dinner, passed hors d'oeuvres service?

What are the menu options? What is the cost for each menu item?

Could I have the names and telephone numbers of some of your past clients?

Do you provide china, table linens, tables, chairs, tents, etc.? What is the cost for these items?

Do you provide bar service and liquor? Can I buy my own liquor? If I purchase my own liquor, can you still provide bar service?

Can you provide a wedding cake? Do you charge a cake-cutting fee?

What do your fees include? Do the fees include gratuities for the staff?

Can you provide a "to-go" box with samples from each of the menu items for the bride and groom to take from the reception?

What will the ratio of staff to guests be? Can you provide extra staff like coatroom attendants, bartenders, etc.?

What deposits are required? When is the final balance due? What is the refund policy?

Can you provide meals for those with special dietary needs (i.e. vegetarian, diabetic, kosher)?

What do you do with the leftover food? Can I have it boxed up to take home?