Step Objective

Step 5! You’re on a roll, research caterers in the area to get a taste for what you’d like at your wedding, then add them to your wishlist.

STEP OVERVIEW

Your Wedding Caterer

Your reception dinner will probably be your largest wedding expense by far. It's also one of the things people will remember most about your event. Consider this your three-word menu-planning montra: taste, personalization, and display.

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CATERER CHECKLIST

Research caterers

Finding out if their food tastes amazing is only the starting point. Your caterer will play a huge role in coordinating the evening and likely supply your bar too, so prep your questions before you go.

Meet with caterers

Narrow it down to two or three and set up times to meet and taste their menu options (yum). Ask recently married friends for recommendations and look for wedding caterers in your area using our caterer search.

Book your caterer

Now that you've met with a few caterers and hashed out a rough price per head for each, it's time to book. Read and re-read the contract, then sign it and put down the deposit.

QUESTIONS TO ASK CATERERS

Some of the most important people in your life will be attending your wedding and they all have one thing in common; they eat food. Make sure you have both delicious and enough food to serve your special guests by knowing exactly what questions you need to ask your caterer.

x.

Do they specialize in any foods or services?

Do they specialize in certain types of food or service? (They should provide sample menus.)

x.

Will they arrange for a tasting?

Will they arrange for a tasting of the foods you might be interested in serving prior to you hiring them.

x.

What is the average price range?

Area costs itemized depending on the foods you choose, or is there an all-inclusive rate? Are there printed price sheets?

x.

How involved are they in a typical reception?

Do they work like a wedding coordinator or banquet manager, cueing the band, telling the couple when to cut the cake, adjusting the schedule if guests aren’t ready to site down to dinner? (You’ll need to fine someone to fill this role-if not them, you’ll need a coordinator.)

x.

Who will be the main contact?

Will the same person you work with when planning also oversee meal service on your wedding day?

x.

What is the schedule like?

Are the working any other weddings on the same weekend or on the same day?

x.

What can they all provide?

If your reception site can’t, can the caterer provide tables, chairs, linens, and dinnerware? (Ask to see linens and serving pieces to make sure they’re acceptable.)

x.

Will the provide waitstaff?

How many would they recommend for you? What does the waitstaff wear? (Top caterers say they always use their own serving personnel, even if the site’s staff is available.)

x.

Where will food be prepared?

Are there on-site facilities, or do the caterer and the site to make additional arrangements? (If the caterer has to bring equipment, is there an additional fee?)

x.

Do they have a license?

This means the business has met health department standards and has liability insurance, make sure it includes a liquor license.

x.

Do they provide alcohol?

Do they provide alcohol, or is the bar the reception site’s responsibility? (If your caterer can provide it, is there a fee? How and when do you get the alcohol to the caterer? If the caterer will provide, is there a fixed wine list? How it is priced?)

TOP RECEPTION MENU TIPS

Now that you know what questions to ask, here are some tips for you when working with catering services.

1.

Ask for references

Don’t choose your caterer based solely on your taste. It’s easy to cook a good meal for two people. Checking references will let you know whether a caterer’s skills extend to large groups. Also, sample at least two items for each course so that you’ll have an alternative if your original idea doesn’t pan out.

2.

Find sneaky ways to save

Serve cocktails and appetizers instead of a full sit-down dinner. Cut down on dinner courses. Keep your menu simple. Avoid expensive ingredients (wild mushrooms, salmon steaks, and so on). Opt for pasta and chicken as entrees. Savor specialties of the season. Limit your bar during dinner with wine passed by waiters.

3.

Try regional eats

Wedding food doesn’t have to be boring. Find a caterer that serves (or is inspired by) festive cuisines such as Italian, Caribbean, Mexican, Soul, Cajun, or Greek. Just beware if there are picky eaters among your guests.

4.

Pass it around

Something in between a sit-down meal and a buffet, family-style offers a natural way to get tables of guests talking while creating a very festive and homey atmosphere. The dishes are delivered to the center of the table and guests pass them around.

5.

Be careful with restaurants

Serving a group of 200 and preparing plates one by one are two different things. If you choose restaurant catering, make sure the place has wedding experience, the appropriate equipment, and service-oriented staff.

6.

Make a printed menu

If you’re serving intriguing foods or using ingredients with special significance, explain them on a printed menu placed on each table. Just make sure it matches your caterer’s final list before you print!

7.

Focus on service

Good food is only half the experience. Ask references whether the staff went the distance to ensure guests were served in an appropriately beautiful, friendly, fast, and attentive manner. Bad service is always memorable.

8.

Beware the beer and wine option

People often limit the bar to beer and wine to help contain costs, but keep in mind that wine may well be pricier than hard alcohol-you’ll get about 5 drinks out of a bottle of wine and 20 out of a bottle of alcohol.

9.

Serve a signature cocktail

A great way to add color and festive flair is to offer a special drink in addition to (or in lieu of) champagne. Consider something thematic: spiked eggnog or cider during winter; rum punch or pina coladas for island flavor; cosmopolitans or martinis for an urban, loungelike feel. And feel free to rename your drinks (like Rebeccas-ritas and Justin-tinis).

Caterers near Rochester, MN

Find a caterer you like? Add them to your wishlist

The Loop

1203 2nd Street Southwest, Rochester, MN, United States
The Loop features classy, yet comfortable décor and has become a favorite among both neighbors and visitors alike.

Sontes Catering

4 3rd Street Southwest, Rochester, MN, United States
Sontes Catering creates customized catered events that are a reflection of who you are

Step Objective

Step 5! You’re on a roll, research caterers in the area to get a taste for what you’d like at your wedding, then add them to your wishlist.

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