Your wedding is one of the most meaningful and thrilling experiences you’ll share with your significant other and guests. Your guests will look forward to the celebration, and they’ll expect delicious food, an abundance of drinks and impeccable service. To ensure your wedding is a memorable and enjoyable occasion for all, it’s essential you choose a venue with a catering service that fits your needs, budget and wedding daydreams.
With so many wedding venues out there, how do you know where to begin? Finding a venue with the best catering service for your wedding can seem intimidating, but there are steps you can take to make the process more manageable. In this post, we’ll show how to choose a compatible wedding catering service you’ll be excited to work with.
You may feel torn between choosing a venue that offers on-premise catering and seeking a caterer outside of your venue. An on-premise caterer prepares and serves food in the same venue as your wedding. An off-premise caterer prepares food in a kitchen outside of the venue and transports the food to your wedding reception location. Many wedding venues do not allow off-premise catering, so you’ll want to consider the quality of the catering service that comes with your venue package before making any big decisions.
On-premise caterers offer many benefits. First, guests do not have to worry about food safety issues that could occur while the food is being transported, because all of the dishes are prepared and stored in the venue kitchen. Off-premise caterers face the challenge of safely transporting food to the venue, and they must make sure not to forget any of the important details such as special equipment or garnishes.
With an on-site caterer, you can relax knowing that the catering director and employees know the venue kitchen inside and out. They have experience preparing delicious food at the venue, and they understand the flow of the kitchen and space. They know how to handle challenges, and it’s much easier for them to adjust to last-minute changes because they’re prepared. With an on-premises caterer, you can expect things to run smoothly and on time. Choosing a venue that offers catering services will also save you the stress of searching for available caterers who meet your needs.
Once you have a list of venues you’re interested in, compare and contrast their catering services. Look for the following qualities when seeking the perfect match:
We understand – choosing the perfect venue with an exceptional in-house caterer can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re planning other wedding day details. Let these simple steps guide you through the journey. As you’ll see, finding the right venue and catering service isn’t so bad after all.
Before you book a venue and sign up for a catering package, you’ll need to know your budget. Your budget will guide the decisions you make throughout the process and help you choose a catering service you can afford. Your budget will also help your caterer create a menu that works for you. When a caterer knows your budget, they can make recommendations based on your needs, such as suggesting a formal sit-down dinner or self-serve smorgasbord. Your caterer should be honest with you and what you can expect with your budget. Here are a few tips for creating a budget:
You’ll want to know what’s most important to you before searching for a venue with an in-house caterer. Your priorities will help you determine how to allocate your funds. For example, is it most important for you to invite every guest on your list, or would you rather spend money on a gourmet dessert table? Knowing what you can and cannot live without on your wedding day will help you narrow your choices and stick to your budget.
To make it easier, list three essential items for your wedding, such as the catering package, the photographer and the venue. Aim to set aside extra money for your top three priorities. Next, list the three least important wedding items, which may include flowers, invitations or cake decorations, for example. Be prepared to cut back on these less critical details.
Before you contact venues about their catering options, you’ll also need to know how many people you plan to invite to your wedding. Your guest list is a key aspect of your budget, and caterers will want to know the most accurate head count possible. You’ll spend money on each guest for food and drinks, so you can drastically reduce or increase costs by changing the number of guests you invite.
According to the Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study, couples spend an average of $70 on catering per guest. So, for example, if you plan to invite 130 people, you’ll spend $9,100 for catering based on the average. However, if you reduce the guest list to 100 people, you’ll save $2,100.
When a caterer discusses the cost per person, make sure you understand exactly what they include in the price. Find out the following information:
After you know your budget and guest list size, you’re ready to contact catering services you’re interested in. Try to limit your list to five or six venues, to help you stay focused. Have a list of questions ready, and ask for proposals so you can compare and contrast costs, menu items, alcohol options and more. Be prepared to share the following information with each venue:
Make sure to take plenty of notes during your phone call.
Also, compare and contrast how each venue’s catering director communicates with you, as this can affect your decision. For example, does one respond to your questions right away, while another still hasn’t gotten back to you? How a caterer communicates with you can help you narrow your options quickly.
No matter how many people recommend a catering service, you’ll want to taste their food before you sign a contract if possible. Try to select your top three in-house caterers and find out if they offer tastings. If a caterer doesn’t offer food tastings or any way for you to sample their food before you sign a contract, ask if you can cancel the contract if their food does not meet your needs. You might also offer to pay a small fee for a mini tasting. For example, you might offer to pay $40 per person to sample three to five dishes.
Aim to sample a caterer’s food close to the season in which you’ll be having your wedding. That way, you can taste menu items using fresh in-season ingredients. If this isn’t possible, try the basic elements of a dish to get an idea of what a caterer is capable of.
Lastly, expect to pay for a scheduled tasting, and factor the cost into your budget.
If your top choices do not offer tastings, consider checking their events schedule. Venues often appear at bridal expos to serve samples, and some may host dinners to attract new clients.
You can also ask a venue if they will be catering any public events and plan to attend. At the event, you’ll get to try their food, and you’ll gain a sense of their service style. Pay attention to how staff members treat guests and consider how they’ll treat guests at your wedding.
Once you choose a catering service, you’ll likely feel eager to sign the contract and take a deep breath. However, resist picking up your pen before you read reviews or contact references. It’s worthwhile to hear customers’ recent experiences before you commit.
Consider obtaining a few references from your top choices. Call each reference and find out how the venue’s in-house caterer handled challenges and what they could have done differently.
Also, read reviews from previous customers or talk to people you know who have hired the caterer in the past. Find out how others were treated by the staff, what the bride and groom experienced, and how well the venue paid attention to the details.
There’s one more step to complete before signing a contract with a venue – ask yourself if it feels right. You’ll be working with your venue’s caterer for months before your special day, and you might encounter challenges during that time. Choose a catering service you enjoy and feel comfortable working with, and who understands your wedding day vision. Refuse to settle for anything less.
You’ll want to ask caterers the following questions as you shop around and compare venues:
You’ll want to choose your venue and an in-house caterer as soon as possible because venues can be booked for up to a year in advance. Try to begin contacting venue caterers at least a year to nine months before your wedding day.
If you’re searching for a gorgeous venue and incomparable on-site catering services in central Pennsylvania, we’re excited to accommodate you at Colonial Golf and Tennis Club. At Colonial Golf and Tennis Club, you’ll find impressive views, flexible indoor and outdoor spaces, and a team dedicated to making your wedding reception an extraordinary event for all. We offer affordable wedding packages to suit the needs of just about any budget and party size, whether you plan to invite hundreds of guests or wish to have a small and intimate wedding.
To learn more about our venue and our provided on-premise catering services, please fill out our online form and speak with our catering director. We look forward to making your wedding day an unforgettable celebration!