{Operation 118} How to choose a wedding caterer

Wedding planning is well under way here at NBP central and although there’s still 8 months to go before the big day, there’s still so much to get done!

Task No. 10
Look online for caterers in your area and ask recently married friends for recommendations.

The search has begun and of course the first thing I type into Google would be: “Brighton Wedding Caterers
Being a Photographer, I’m visually stimulated, and so of course I immediately close down any websites which I don’t feel visual connection with. Amazing how certain colors put me off as well as small pixelated images of food and drink. I have to remind myself that I’m not investigating a website, but a brand, a team and someone who will make sure everything is ok on the day.

I found plenty of caterers I would have loved to work with (had I been planning a real life wedding) however I’ve shortlisted my top 5, purely based on the simplicity of their website, the clear and well thought out products and services they provide, the structure, look and feel of the site as well as the overall “trust” factor and what they can include in the price.

Brighton Wedding Caterers- (Top 5 based on Internet Searches)
Marquee Catering Drinks All inclusive option?
1 Super Event http://superevent.co.uk/
2 Gastro Catering http://www.gastrocatering.com/
3 Red Anywhere http://www.redanywhere.co.uk/
4 Consuming Passion http://www.cpcaterers.com/
5 Kettle of Fish http://www.kettleoffishltd.co.uk/

Things to keep in mind before signing a contract with your caterer.

-Look out for responsiveness. Once you’ve sent out your enquiry, if your caterer doesn’t get back to you within 3 days max, they’ll probably struggle with communication in the long run.

-Professionalism. When you meet with your caterer for the first time, even something like the way they dress will give you an indication of how serious they take themselves as a business.

-Good caterers will volunteer information and try to educate you about what to expect and what goes on behind the scenes, without you having to ask. However if there’s anything you’re unclear about, don’t hesitate to ask.

– Caterers should have a certain degree of flexibility. You should be able to ask for what you want. Great customer service includes being able to make requests that would allow you to have the day of your dreams.

-On your first meeting, one of the first things your caterer should ask you about is your vision for your big day, that way they’ll know if they can meet your expectations.

-Your caterer should take some time to get to know you first. As an individual or as a couple.

-Caterers gain most of their profit from food and drink sales. Make sure you find out if they offer quality products and if their food is all fresh or all frozen.

-The total price should include tax, rental and service charges.

 ” I honestly felt conned every time I asked for a quote – they would all send through a ‘guideline estimate’, which was fair and in line with our budget, before organizing a meeting where you talked about what you wanted and were given a final estimate which was around £2000 more than the guideline. I don’t mind adjusting my expectations, but I bloody hate it when they tell you one thing, knowing that the price will increase” – Guardian Reader

-Any special requests should be noted and included in the contract. Make sure you know exactly what’s included and don’t accept verbal agreements and assurances.

-If the caterer will provide the cutlery, silverware, the glasses and dishes, make sure you get to see the quality beforehand. Last thing you want is to have old scratched cutlery and chipped plates!

-Arrange a sampling day and find out if there is any cost involved in any of the tasting sessions.

-Make sure you get an itinerary of the day with all the events and times listed. Then give a copy of it to each vendor and service provider to ensure everything runs smoothly and everyone else can manage their time accordingly

-Check references and even make a call or two if you can.

-Meals for vendors should be included in the quote. This will usually be cheaper than a guest’s meals. It’s always best to give back as a thank you to those helping you on your big day. Even if they’re getting paid for it. (They might just give you extra-extra special treatment because of it.)

-Ask for leftovers to be packaged at the end of the night. Family members and friends who are out-of-towners would really appreciate it. Even give something to your parents if they’re entertaining guests in their home for the weekend. Otherwise have the extra food delivered to a homeless shelter in order to avoid wasting food.

-Make sure the caterers offer special menus for the vegans, vegetarians, lactose, wheat or dairy intolerant amongs your guests.

– Make sure you know there will be enough servers to get the food out quickly so it can remain fresh and warm.

-Find out if your chosen caterers are catering any other weddings on the same day as yours. Nuff said.

– Check that your caterers have a license and that the business meets health, safety and hygiene standards. The last thing you want is to see half your wedding party dashing for the loo or crawling on the floor after being poisoned by the food.

If you can think of any other bits to look out for before making a decision, please list them below in the comments section.

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