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How to choose a caterer for your wedding

Potato Nests with sour cream and smoked salmon
Found here: http://www.allyou.com/food/celebrations/easy-finger-foods/potato-nests-smoked-salmon

Your wedding is a very special celebration and every great celebration involves food. Carefully selecting your wedding caterer is a thoughtful way to show your appreciation for your guests and make a lasting impression. In addition, the food and drink served at your wedding is one of your largest expenses, and you want to be sure that what you are paying for meets your expectations. To help you decide which caterer is best suited for your budget, tastes, and style we’ve put together some tips from professional wedding and event caterers.

When To Begin Your Search
You should have a firm date set for your wedding and begin your search for a caterer about nine months before the date, according to professional caterers at Kalm Kitchen. It is also extremely helpful to have a budget in mind as well as how many people you think will attend so you can get a more precise quote.

Where To Find Professional Caterers
If you have a specific venue already booked for your wedding ask if they have on-site catering and if they allow outside caterers. Many venues have preferred/recommended vendor lists of caterers they’ve worked with in in the past. Referrals are another way to find caterers, especially if you’ve attended your best friend’s wedding and enjoyed the food. If you’ve selected another wedding vendor you trust you could ask if they have any recommendations from their experience working in the bridal industry.  

What to Consider Before Approaching Potential Caterers
There are a few details to be aware before contacting potential caterers. For example, do you envision a formal seated dinner reception or would you prefer a buffet? Do you or any of your guests have special dietary needs? If kids are invited, do you want a special kid friendly menu for them?  
Also, consider what level of service you expect from servers and chefs, for example, do you want servers walking around with trays of hors d'oeuvres cocktail hour or do you want platters available for guests to serve themselves. Would you like a certain type of cuisine like Indian or Mediterranean inspired? If your wedding is in the fall, would you like a seasonally inspired menu? Having thought out some of these details before contacting a caterer will hopefully save you some time and help you select a caterer that can work with your overall vision and make suggestions based on your budget.

How to Make Your Selection
Utilize social media(their Pintrest and Facebook pages) and the internet (their website or other trusted wedding services website) to help you narrow down your selections. Evaluate the caterer’s experience by researching how long they’ve been around, look at pictures of their food (how it is plated and presented), see if there are testimonials from past clients, and look for pictures from events they’ve worked. See if they have sample menus posted or if they have packages and prices listed anywhere.
Give them a call and feel them out. Do they treat you respectfully and professionally? Do they have your date available? Can they work with your budget? What is included in the price they quote you (rental linens, bar service, wait staff, cutlery, etc.)? When do they need a deposit and when will your date be secured? See if they listen to your input and can create a menu that is satisfying to you (taste and budget). Then ask if they can offer a tasting session for you to try some of the ideas they’ve presented to you.

Sources used to write this article:
Hurt, Allison. “How To Choose A Wedding Caterer.” Borrowed & Blue. Borrowed & Blue LLC. 29 May 2012. Web. 27 March 2015. < http://www.borrowedandblue.com/charlottesville/wedding-blog/how-to-choose-a-wedding-caterer>

Kalm Kitchen. “Top Tips for Choosing a Wedding Caterer.” Bridal Musings. Bridal Musings. 13 May 2013. Web. 27 March 2015. < http://bridalmusings.com/2013/05/top-tips-for-wedding-caterer-kalm-kitchen/>

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