Carly here with Milk Glass Productions, checking in with more personal updates and professional tips for the wedding planning process! With less than a month to go, the countdown is officially on! You've been following along my own journey to "I do", from engagement photos to showers, and next up is a rundown of our food tasting as well as my recommendations for anyone in the same (gravy) boat.
After shopping around for caterers we narrowed it down to three and, ultimately, Rocky Mountain Catering won! Their team made the whole process streamline and easy...leaving a really good taste in our mouths! We felt so welcomed and special from the moment we pulled up; our names were even on the parking sign out front! As we stepped out of the car, we were greeted with freshly brewed iced tea. Rocky Mountain Catering's Robin and Patrick, as well as my Maid of Honor, Lauren, and Lead Planner, Alex, and Event Rents and Fiori Flowers surprised me and had set up a mock tablescape with our specific rentals and floral inspiration from our real wedding vendors. It brought tears to my eyes! I was so surprised and it really made everything come to life! Rocky Mountain Catering used our wedding logo and had place cards and menus made up, which was such a sweet touch. They went above and beyond and truly exceeded our expectations.
There were custom cookies with our names on them as well! All of their food was amazing and we are so excited to work with them on the big day! We highly recommend Rocky Mountain Catering for your next soiree! Seriously salivating over here until our wedding!
Do Your Research
Ask around! Get recommendations from your venue, planner, and friends who have recently had weddings in your area.
Go online. Visit each caterer's website and look at recent reviews. Not all caterers are created equal and some may be better suited to your vision when it comes to menu creativity, presentation, and service styles.
After narrowing it down to a hand-full of companies, reach out to them directly with a phone call. Be prepared and have a list of questions written out beforehand (this will save you, and them, a lot of time). Do any of them fail to get back to you in a reasonable amount of time? If so, it looks like you're one step closer to creating your shortlist.
Examples of questions to consider:
- How familiar are you with the venue?
- How/where do you source your food?
- How/where is the food prepared?
- Can we do a custom menu?
- What do you bring with you onsite?
- What are you (as the caterer) responsible for?
- What are your average price points?
Compare Apples to Apples
After discussing with each company what your vision is, ask for a formal proposal.
It is important to be 100% consistent with the information you are giving to each caterer so when you get the proposals back, you are comparing apples to apples. Example: don't mention to one company you want wine service with dinner and to another company that you don't, as this will change the overall cost (usually in labor charges) and therefore will not produce a fair comparison of the two.
Compare each contract side by side. Look at charges pertaining to labor/staffing, food, beverage, timeline, rentals, service fees, etc. How do they compare? Each catering company allocates expenses differently which can prove tricky when comparing, so if you aren't sure what the exact breakdown is, don't be afraid to ask! In most cases, they will be more than happy to deconstruct this for you.
For example: Are rentals included? Is the timeline and number of staff on-site the same?
Set-Up Tastings With Your Top Contenders
Once you have narrowed down to 2-3 companies, set up tastings.
Read The Fine Print
This might seem obvious to some, but always go through the contract with a fine-tooth comb with all of your vendors, and catering is no exception. Some things to look out for are important deadlines concerning payments, final guest count, and any last-minute changes needed. What is the deposit and is it refundable? What (if any) potential additional charges may accrue in certain circumstances? These are just a few things to look out for. If you aren't 100% confident in your knowledge of the contract, pass it along to a trusted friend or family member for the second pair of eyes.
- There is no such thing as too much information when it comes to catering. Be vocal about your vision, must-haves, budget, and overall expectations. Be explicit on the details with your caterer- not only will they appreciate this, but it will also leave little-to-no room for error on your big day.
- Be realistic and take advice from your catering professionals. Unfortunately, logistics are a real thing and some things just aren't feasible with all variables considered. Example: be understanding when your caterer says an ice cream station isn't ideal for your outdoor mid-July wedding (unless your willing to shell out some extra cash for the equipment needed to keep your day from becoming a melted ice cream disaster). Or, expecting your 3-course meal to be served to your 200+ guests in under 45 minutes when you only want to pay for 6 servers...you get the idea.
- Always consider your guests' dietary restrictions- be it vegetarian, vegan, celiac, paleo, etc.
- Know your guests: while you and your partner might have an adventurous palette, older generations most likely don't. Consider this when picking your menu.
- Be 100% open and honest about budget. This will allow the caterer to keep all of your preferences in mind when creating a proposal and see how they can get creative to keep you in a comfortable place financially.
- Listen to your gut! Does anyone caterer stand out from the rest? Have any of them gone above and beyond in customizing a menu unique for your day or included small touches to make your tasting special for you?