The food is always a huge part of a wedding - and we're not just saying that because we're biased! Having a delicious, memorable meal is something every couple wants at their wedding. But the catering can also be one of the most expensive parts of a wedding, so it's important to get it right.
To help you find the perfect wedding caterer and create your dream wedding menu, here are a few questions you should ask your wedding caterer ahead of the big day.
First up, it's always a good idea to organise an initial meeting with any potential wedding caterers you like. Have a look online, at wedding fairs or ask friends for recommendations, then narrow down your list to one or two who seem like they’d be a good fit for you. Then, book in an initial meeting to get a feel for the caterers and find out what their style and menus are like.
This is a good time to discuss all the basics. Ask them questions about the type of food they specialise in, what an average budget for your number of guests would look like, and - most importantly - if they have your wedding date free. There's no point falling in love with a wedding caterer only to discover they're fully booked on your big day!
Although it's not the most exciting part of planning a wedding, working out your logistics is really important to make sure the day runs smoothly. Ask your wedding caterer what kind of set up they'll need, whether they provide their own equipment or if they'll need access to your venue's kitchen, if they provide waiting staff and bar staff or if you'll need to hire your own, and how long they'll need to prep and set up on-site.
Don't forget to ask if your wedding caterer provides linen, crockery, glasses and cutlery or if this is something you'll need to organise yourself. If they do provide this, don't be afraid to ask to see samples, just in case it isn't to your taste and you'd rather source your own! Many wedding catering companies, including us at Bear Claw Catering, offer table styling services, so it's worth asking more about this too.
Now for the best bit... the food! Some wedding caterers offer set menus, while others will create a completely bespoke menu for you - so it's important to ask about this from the start so you can set your expectations. Ask to see sample menus and whether you can mix and match between menus, or if there are certain options you need to choose from. Can they serve food in family-style sharing portions, or is it all silver service? Can they provide canapes, desserts and late-night nibbles as well as the main meal?
Discuss with your wedding caterer what your likes and dislikes are, and what style of food you love. They should be able to work with you to create a menu that's really personal to you, full of delicious dishes that your guests will love too. Make sure to book in for a tasting so you can decide which dishes are the best ones for your menu, and check on the quality of the food.
As well as the fun part of getting to taste the food and create your own menu, don't forget to ask some logistical questions too. Can your wedding caterer accommodate vegan/vegetarian guests or those with a dietary requirement? Will guests have a choice or is it a set menu, and will choices need to be made in advance or on the day? Will things like bread baskets and condiments be provided?
Not all wedding caterers offer bar services, but it's always worth asking about. Even if they can't do the full bar themselves, they may be able to offer welcome drinks or drinks during the meal, or recommend a trusted local drinks supplier to run the bar.
Ask how the bar will be set up, which drinks are included with your fee and which ones will be extra. Will it be a cash bar? Will you need to provide your own wine, bubbly or beer for them to serve, or can they source it for you? Can they serve cocktails, and if so can you create bespoke recipes to be served at your wedding or will you need to choose from set options? Will tea and coffee be served, and what non-alcoholic options will there be?
Finally, it's time to ask some questions about the numbers to make sure you and your wedding caterer are both on the same page. Ask your caterer if they have a minimum fee or minimum/maximum number of covers. What will the price per head be for your chosen menu, and what does this price include - will linens, cutlery, staff etc cost extra? How much will the deposit be, and when will the balance be due?
Don't forget to ask your wedding caterers how far in advance you'll need to confirm numbers, dietary requirements and menu choices so you can give guests plenty of time to RSVP.
If you're looking for a wedding caterer in West Sussex, East Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire or South London, we can help! We would love to be part of your big day - please see our Weddings page for more information: bearclawcatering.co.uk/weddings