Caterers today offer a wide variety of menus and services, ranging from simple light fare to elaborate cuisine. A full-service caterer will assist you with creating the atmosphere for your reception with decorations, table linens, beautiful serving pieces and possibly even music. The time of day, the location of your reception, the number of guests, and your budget will help determine the services you will need and the type of cuisine you will wish to serve. After determining your specifications, you can begin looking for the caterer best suited to meet your needs. A great deal of planning and special attention need to be given to the reception; therefore, it is wise to select a caterer as early as possible. If your reception is at a hotel, catering services will probably be provided by the hotel staff. Regardless of which caterer you might choose, the following questions need to be asked:
What menu selections are available? The primary importance is that the caterer prepares the type of cuisine you wish to serve your guests. Ask the caterer what their specialties are and if they have any recommendations for your particular reception. Is the caterer full-service? Does service include food and drink preparation, wait staff, place settings, centerpieces, and set-up and clean-up? What is the complete cost of the catering service? Does the cost include delivery charges? Are there charges for overtime? What type of deposit is required? Remember to ask about gratuities for service people, and charges for cake set-up, cutting and take-down.
Once you have chosen your caterer, discuss all the necessary details and put the specifics in writing. You should include costs and your estimates for the number of guests. Both you and the caterer should sign the agreement. In the months and weeks before your wedding, work hand-in-hand with your caterer. This person will play the most significant role in making your reception a celebration to remember for a lifetime.