We all know that food plays a huge role in your wedding day. When we meet with potential planning clients, we always ask which part of their wedding day is the most important to them. Catering, food, and drinks are always one of the top priorities, and for good reason! Food always leaves a lasting impression on your guests. You want to make sure you choose a caterer that you trust, can rely on, and whose food you are head over heels for. There are plenty of ways to ensure that you choose the right caterer. Check out some of our favorite DC area caterers and follow some of our tested techniques on choosing your wedding catering!
Budget and Priorities
Keep in mind that feeding your guests will take up a good chunk of your wedding budget. When you consider how much work goes into preparing and serving all of your guests, this should make a lot of sense. Make sure that you go into your tasting with a realistic budget in mind per head. The more guests you have, the higher your budget allocation should be. Also, have an idea of what your priorities are. There are things you’ll budge on, and there are things you won’t. Maybe you absolutely want a four course plated dinner, so you aren’t too concerned with hors d’oeuvres. Or maybe you want a fully stocked bar instead of just wine and beer. Every couple has different priorities. Knowing yours will help your caterer to build you the perfect menu within your budget.
Tasting and Food Choice
You will absolutely want to do a tasting with your prospective caterers. Reading reviews online is great, but everyone has different tastes. Make sure your caterer fits yours! Find out if your caterer will do a tasting before you book. Sometimes you can do a general tasting before you sign a contract and then follow it up with one that includes the specific options you are considering for your event. If you have specific foods that you can’t live without, talk to them! Communication with your caterer is key. They want to include everything that you picture, but they aren’t mind readers. You shouldn’t assume that they will have crab cake hors d’oeuvres because every wedding you’ve been to had them. Discussing food allergies and restrictions is also key! Make sure they can accommodate all of your guests.
One more thing to consider when choosing your caterer is dessert! Cake is typically a pretty big aspect of your wedding day food choices. Will you be getting your cake from a local baker or are you looking for the caterer to provide one? Do you want additional dessert choices such as cookies, macarons, candy, ice cream, etc.? If you choose an outside baker, ask your caterer if they can be in charge of cutting the cake for you. They may charge you extra for this, so be sure to build it into your budget.
You will also want to know if your caterer “hot boxes” their food. Hot boxing is when food is pre-cooked and reheated before service. It can lead to tougher meat, dryer fish and chicken, or soggy hors d’oeuvres. This is oftentimes not ideal but could be necessary depending on your venue choice. The best option is to always have food prepared right before your reception so it is fresh so make sure they can accommodate this!
Staffing is so important on your wedding day. We do no recommend decreasing staffing numbers to save money. Not only do you want all of your guests to be enjoying their meals together, but you also want plates to be cleared, cake to be cut, and clean up to be done in a timely manner. This stuff doesn’t just happen magically! It is the hard work of the catering staff that makes this all possible. Bonus tip: Don’t forget to build tips into your catering budget. You will want to reward the awesome staff for a job well done. Although this is not mandatory, they are some of your vendors with the greatest guest contact so you want to ensure you are treating them well so they will do the same!
Make sure you really read your catering contract. We know you will have tons of contracts to look at throughout the planning process but this is not one to skim. You will want to make sure that they have included everything that you want. And don’t feel bad about asking questions! You won’t be bothering them and it’s best to not have any surprises on your wedding day. If you hire a wedding planner or coordinator, they will also double check this to make sure everything is included.
Design and Catering: Eleven Courses Catering | Photography: Tori Nefores Photography | Venue: Prosperity Mansion | Rentals: Select Event Group |Stationery: MLC Designs | Cake: Sugar Bakers Cakes | Florals: Shelly’s Floral Dreams