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How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Caterer

Cheryl Mascarenhas
Wedding food is something everyone will remember even after the event is over. Getting the best service and food is therefore, of utmost importance.
The hype about serving the wedding breakfast...
... is thought to come from pre-Reformation times, when the soon-to-be-married couple would literally 'break their fast', which they had to undertake in order to receive communion at their wedding.
What makes a perfect, memorable wedding? For you, as the bride/groom, it would be the ceremony and the event itself. But for your guests, it has to be a satisfied palette.
One thing's for sure, the layout, setting and ambiance along with the choice of catering is what is going to create an impression on most others. It's all about the food, and the service, that your guests are going to be talking about post your wedding. And it is solely up to you to make your guests feel satisfied.
With such a herculean task at hand, it is advisable that you begin searching early. To avoid last-minute running around, we suggest you book a caterer, well in advance. To do that, you definitely have to shortlist the best from the rest.
I am sure you are hounded with questions like, what to expect from a good caterer. Well, we would say, don't just go by the appearance of the presentation but take into consideration the following points mentioned here. The criteria for choosing the right caterer for your event should be...

Ask Around

The best way to finalize a caterer is to ask around. Have a word with your family or friends who have recently called for the service of a caterer. Chances are, if they have satisfactory reviews about the food and service provided by the caterer, you can be assured of good quality for yours as well.
There's definitely no publicity as trusted as word of mouth. Caterers who leave their guests more than satisfied are sure to be a hit even at your function. After all, the whole idea is essentially about catering to your guests, and the best way to do it, employ the help from one of your guests itself.

Taste it to believe it

Before you settle down with a caterer, we suggest you attend a few tasting sessions. This means you have to spend some time doing ground research as well. Which just implies, you have to be bold enough to ask the caterer for a tasting. You could probably invite a few friends over, and try out some of the dishes that the caterer excels in.
Do keep in mind though, the quality of the food is directly proportional to the quantity that is provided. If possible, pick up business cards from caterers when you attend a function or two, this will help you shortlist a caterer rather quickly.

Decode the Specialty

You would save a lot of time if you ask the caterer if he specializes in large-scale events. There are plenty of caterers who specialize in smaller events, and are inept at handling larger crowds.
It would be wise if you ensure your caterer has previously handled an event as big as yours. Again, the key word here is to check the caterers credentials. This can be done by asking for their catalog/portfolio which should have the past events he has worked on.

Plated Service or Plain Delivered

First and foremost, ensure if your caterer provides services or you have to separately arrange for them. While some caterers provide the best quality of food, their services are limited to delivering the food to the event.
You are free to ask if the catering company has a staff of their own or if they temporarily hire staff. You definitely want to avoid a rude shock on the day of your wedding in case the caterer does not have a staff to cater to the guests.

Novelty of Cuisine

While deciding a caterer, ensure that you get a good deal. This includes a superlative visual appeal with a sumptuous meal. Remember, it is a wedding reception that you are looking forward to, and not just any ordinary party, and it has to be something special. Ensure your caterer is well-versed with presentation skills.
Apart from presentation, the caterer should also be well-versed with a variety of cuisines to present you with a varied portfolio to choose from.

No Complaints Please

Just how important it is to check the credentials? I would say checking the license is of utmost importance. Ensure the caterer has an up-to-date license to prove that they aren't violating rules pertaining to health and cleanliness.
Do make sure to check the records with the local health department to check for prior complaints or issues registered with them. Remember, the more experienced a caterer, the better service you are sure to get.

Get a Rough Estimate

A good caterer should give you a rough estimate of the total cost of the event. He should also be able to suggest a menu that will suit your budget and go well with the wedding theme.
Ensure that a drop in price does not resound with a drop in quality. Another important factor, is to make a note of any hidden cost. Ensure that the caterer is truthful about the total cost of the event, just so you do not end up with a blown up bill on the actual day itself.
Last but not the least, once you have shortlisted the perfect caterer, make sure you read the contract carefully before you sign the services. Do remember to ask your caterer a whole lot of questions