Selecting Your Wedding Caterer

Los-Angeles-catering-organic-Eco-Caters-1024x680Everyone likes, OK, loves to eat. Whether you’re a picky eater with a discerning palette, or very open to trying just about anything, there is something about food that gets us all excited!

That’s why it’s so important to have good food served at your wedding reception. In fact, the food should be down-right terrific! Guests remember great food served at weddings, and talk about bad food long after your party has ended. So, how do you serve amazing food to keep those tongues from wagging on anything but how banging those pulled pork sliders were? It first begins with the caterer you select. Your caterer can either make or break your reception dinner, so let’s make sure we get how to manage the selection process right straight from the start.

Banquet Halls and Exclusive In-House / On-Premise Caterers

Banquet halls either have their own in-house chefs who cook directly for the venue (ie. Bruno’s on the Boulevard, Villa Russo, Terrace on the Park) or have contracted with an outside catering company who then becomes the exclusive caterer for the venue (ie. The Palm House’s exclusive caterer Charles, Sally and Charles.) These banquet halls have designated kitchen space, prep and cook directly on premise, and do not allow outside catering. Of course when in this situation, you must like both the space AND the cooking.

Raw Space Venues and Preferred / Off-Premise Caterers

Many raw space venues have preferred caterers that although do not cook directly for the venue as in the case of banquet halls, they usually do have previous experience working at the venue and are the first who the venue recommends to their clients who are booking the space.  Some venues require you only use their preferred vendors at their space, but many allow off-premise caterers— which are caterers who prep and cook food elsewhere and then transport it to your venue for preparation to serve. Even though they tend to allow off-premise caterers, it still makes venues very nervous when caterers have never worked their space, so they’ll at minimum require your caterer to complete a walk-thru of the space before your big day.

Wedding Menu Packages

Wedding preperation and foodCaterers offer many, many creative wedding food packages, everything from set menus to customized options. You should have a general idea of the type of food you would like to serve. Once you do, review the caterer’s wedding packages to see which food options appeal to you, both in the amount of choices, substitutions,  special meal preparations, and pricing.

Also, make certain to create a well–balanced menu all your guests can enjoy. Go for a tasting!

Staffing: Servers | Waiters | Bartenders | Table Set-up/Break-down

The good news is, if you’re getting married at a banquet hall, the staff there will take care of all of this for you. But, if the wedding is at a raw space venue, then both tables and chairs and set-up staff needs to be brought in.

Servers / Waiters

Is your caterer providing servers and/or wait staff during your meal? Although most caterers are equipped to provide this, some may not, particularly the smaller sized food providers, like food trucks or smaller restaurants that provide off-premise catering. However, it is really the caterer’s responsibility to provide or contract staffing for your event. This needs to be discussed in detail and decided on with your caterer before you even book their services.

Bartenders

Who’s bringing the booze and who’s serving it? Again, caterers either typically can provide this service, or they (or you) can contract directly with a bar company. But again, these are details that need to be discussed upfront.

Reception Table and Chair Set-up |  Dressing the Table | Creating a Tablescape

Once again, typically caterers are responsible for ordering from a reputable event rental company (like Broadway Party Rentals) your reception tables and chairs.  They’re also responsible for dressing the table with linens and setting the tables with flatware, glassware, stemware, dishes, etc. Either your caterer, florist, planner, or a combination thereof should help create and execute your tablescape design.

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photo credit: top photo: Eco Caterers via greenweddingshoes.com

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