I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your wedding day deserves to be as special and unique as your relationship! You’ve booked your dream venue and you’ve imagined how your big day will unfold, but when it comes time to determine your plan for food and beverage service, there are a few key questions that you can ask your caterer to ensure your event goes off without a hitch. —Donna Wadsworth
WHAT’S THE PROCESS?
Your caterer should have a tried-and-true process and timeline to match, perfected through catering dozens, if not hundreds of previous weddings. Find out if your caterer includes a tasting as part of their planning steps, if there’s a cost for the tasting, as well as if they will permit other key people, like your wedding planner, parent or member of your bridal party to attend the tasting with you and your partner. An expert caterer will be able to give you a rough idea of key dates and deadlines when you meet for your initial consultation: when you’ll have to lock in the menu, provide final guest counts and dietary restrictions, and confirm your wedding day timeline. Once the contract is signed they’ll be able to provide specific dates for all your deadlines.
If you’ve never had experience planning a large event before, it can be overwhelming when you realize the true breadth of logistics involved, and inexperienced couples will sometimes make the mistake of assuming their caterer or another vendor will be responsible for something outside of their scope. An experienced caterer will be able to clearly tell you if they have a minimum spend, along with the services they will be able to provide within your budget, the ones they are unable to provide, and the add-on services they would be able to provide for an à la carte fee. Some catering companies, similar to us at Savoury City, can coordinate all the rentals needed for your event (including tables, chairs, linens, china, cutlery, glassware, ice, bar equipment, and cooking equipment, along with their pick-up and delivery) by partnering with a number of our trusted industry colleagues. This can help minimize our clients’ stress levels, while ensuring we’re working with vendors that we know are professional, accurate and have a history of consistently delivering on their promises.
No two people are exactly alike and your guest list will presumably be no exception, so finding out whether your caterer can accommodate dietary restrictions and special requests will help to ensure that no guest leaves unsatisfied. Most caterers will be happy to help with special requests if you let them know in advance, so we recommend using this opportunity to work with your caterer on any additional options that might be available. Taking some time during the consultation process to convey your vision for your big day is not only a great way to cultivate culinary inspiration for any potential ideas you might not have considered, it will also help to give you some much-needed peace of mind knowing even the most minute detail won’t be overlooked. Discussing beverage options with your caterer to decide what type of bar service works best for you is another important part of the planning process. Whether it be a hosted bar, a cash bar, or BYOA package, finding the most fitting solution to serve your guests’ libations can make a big difference to the overall experience.
Our versatility is a point of pride for me and the team, but before you settle on a specific service style for your event, we suggest working with your caterer to make sure the venue you’ve selected is capable of accommodating your vision. Are you serving a traditional plated dinner? If so, we recommend asking your caterer what they would need from the venue to make that happen. Will they need access to water? And how many access points? Parking? If you envision your event as more of a free roaming social affair, you’ll likely want to know if the space lends itself to serving canapés and cocktails. We strongly recommend hiring an experienced wedding planner to work in tandem with your caterer and other vendors to provide a seamless and stunning wedding and dinner service. Ask your caterer if they have any preferred vendors or wedding planners they recommend working with who have a proven track record of putting together successful events at similar venues.
In addition to being one of the best ways to ensure the service goes as smoothly as possible, asking your caterer to attend a venue walkthrough with your wedding planner and other vendors will help you determine the ideal flow for the wedding day. You can also use this time to identify and address any last-minute logistical challenges you might face in regards to the venue or other vendors’ timelines.
Savoury City Catering owner Donna Wadsworth has seen it all in her decades of experience running catering companies and working as a chef across Canada and internationally. To create perfectly orchestrated events, Donna lives by the motto “fail to prepare then prepare to fail,” paired with a meticulous attention to detail and the ability to perfectly envision the flow of an event from beginning to end.