Luxury Wedding Planning | Choosing your caterer
1. Start early
Perhaps your wedding date is a year or two away, or maybe you’ve recently engaged. Nonetheless, beginning your planning early can help you narrow down the vast array of options that are available to you, and give you a much higher chance of your favourite catering companies having availability. Leave plenty of time to discuss your preferred ingredients, create a bespoke menu, have a menu tasting, and make any changes to your menu selections so that you’re not rushing into making any decisions that you might regret later. Leaving it too late can be stressful, so starting early will give you plenty of time to explore all of your options and find the perfect caterer that best fits your requirements.
2. Determine your budget
With endless wedding caterers out there, narrowing the list down to those that fit within your budget is essential. Be sure to ask potential caterers that their quote is inclusive of everything you’ll need from them and there are no additional hidden costs. Give as much information as you can at this stage to enable them to quote accurately; will they need to provide kitchen ovens, would you prefer to have coloured table linen instead of the standard white option, will they need to supply dining furniture, would you like to offer a choice menu for your guests? Being able to provide this information early on will give you the most accurate quote from the outset. Be honest about your budget for catering with each caterer so they they can provide options that work within this.
3. Define your food and service style
Another of the early considerations to make is the style of menu and service you’d love to offer for your guests. If you’d like to serve a 5 course formal plated menu with wine pairings, this would lean towards a different caterer than if you’d prefer to have family style sharing boards with bowls of side dishes. As experienced Wedding Planners, we brainstorm with your initial ideas and preferences to build a more detailed picture of how the catering aspect of your wedding will look and feel. With an extensive black book of trusted and reputable suppliers, we have connections with some of the UK’s top Chefs and catering companies, so can help you to find the perfect team for your day, to design a bespoke menu with dishes made from fresh, high quality and locally sourced delicious ingredients. Your wedding menu should be a reflection of who you are as a couple; expressing your heritage, personalities and your journey together, encompassing your favourite flavours. Offering a selection of heavenly dishes and carefully paired wines to delight your guests is something we’re truly passionate about, so we’ll consider meticulously the best caterer to join the team.
For Henrietta & Michael’s intimate wedding at Ashby Manor House, we worked closely with their Chef to create a bespoke 7 course tasting menu with wine pairings to truly indulge their guests. See more from their wedding here.
4. Research and shortlist potential caterers
With a catering style in mind, now’s the time to begin your research into caterers that match what you’re looking for. Browse through their menus and gallery, identifying your top 3 caterers. Instagram is often a great tool for seeing a caterers most recent work and a variety of their dishes.
5. Always schedule a tasting
Always taste samples of their food before letting a caterer produce food for your guests on your wedding day! Food pictures can be deceiving, or may not even do them justice. A good caterer should offer a personal menu tasting of your chosen menu. Occasionally this is an additional charge, but always make sure you ask. Take photos and make notes for each dish so you remember when looking back, and do ask the Chef if they’re able to make changes to the dish depending on your preference; for example – more sauce, a crispier finish, less cheese. Ask about amendments to dishes to make them dietary friendly for any guests with a specific requirement. Often dishes can be tweaked to be made gluten free or dairy free for example, without the need for offering a whole new dish.
6. Look out for their attention to detail
Now this is something we know a lot about. Considering every element of how your wedding will look, feel, taste, and even smell is part of our service as luxury wedding planners. When looking for a caterer to pair with for your wedding, ask them what is included within their quote. Do they offer tableware and styling options, or are there just standard options available? When designing a tablescape, it’s important to think about it from the guests point of view and how they will experience it. It should complement the menu, and allow guests to maximise their dining experience. For example, there are literally hundreds of options available when it comes to crockery, cutlery, glassware and linens, so never assume that you must stick to what a caterer provides. They should be open to sourcing something alternative if you don’t like the standard options. For Elle & Joe’s wedding at Adwell House, we used extra wide dining tables to allow plenty of space for a feasting menu, and sourced each piece of their tableware carefully so it would complement their dishes. See more from their beautiful wedding here.
Equally, you might want to offer your guests a choice menu, so they’re able to select from a few dishes ahead of the day. This is a brilliant idea if you would prefer fish, and your partner loves a steak! Allowing guests to choose their own menu is a luxury option and often comes with a supplementary cost, but something your caterer should be open to offering.
7. Consider their reputation and experience
Make sure that you thoroughly research the caterer beforehand – consider their values, skills, and experience. Is there a professional chef behind their menus? Are they a respected and well-known catering company within the industry? Their Instagram account again can be useful here. Are they working at well known venues, or with the best wedding planners?
Ask for referrals from previous couples, or have a read through their Google reviews. Both can be helpful and an insight into what your experience with a caterer might be like. We spend many hours working with suppliers throughout the wedding planning process, in addition to working closely with them on a wedding day, so we have a very accurate first hand experience of what working with a supplier will be like. We have spent over a decade working with many suppliers of all levels, and have worked hard in that time to curate a list of preferred caterers who we know to be reliable, trusted and brilliant at what they do. With a background in luxury London hotels, we have VERY high standards, and suppliers who fall short of those simply don’t make the cut!
8. Take your time
Your wedding day is yours to treasure, so don’t be afraid to take some time to make an informed decision about which wedding caterer to hire. Ask if they’re able to provisionally hold your wedding date for a week or two whilst you make a final decision.
9. Review their contract carefully
Read their contracts carefully – if needed, ask close friends and family to also review the contract as well, so inconsistencies and inadequacies can be spotted. Make sure you’re clear on everything, and be aware of any clauses such as minimum guest numbers, or deadlines for information and decisions.
10. Indulge in luxury catering with us!
At Vanilla Rose Weddings, we can help you find the perfect caterer for your luxury wedding. We collaborate with leading chefs and some of the best catering companies in the UK, making use of local and seasonal ingredients to create flavourful and delectable dishes.
As luxury wedding designers in the UK with more than a decade of experience, Vanilla Rose Weddings specialises in designing and planning extraordinary weddings throughout the UK. Get in touch today, we can’t wait to hear more about what you have in mind for your wedding celebrations!