Wedding Caterers: How To Work Effectively With Your Caterer

Working with a caterer can be a breeze when you set expectations and keep open lines of communication. Follow this simple steps to ensure a perfect reception menu.

If you are planning a wedding, chances are you also are planning a reception. A big part of the reception will be the food. A professional caterer can assist in the planning of the reception meal and take care of details including table decor and what meal options to provide guests. Once you have selected a caterer, there are some simple ways to ensure the two of you get along well from the initial planning stage all the way through to the big day.

1. Set a timeline with your caterer. Setting a timeline for when certain decisions must be made and milestones reached is a good way to keep everyone on the same page. Once you have mutually decided upon some key dates, make a copy of the calendar for yourself, as well as the caterer. Then, use it as a checklist to make sure that the planning of your wedding stays on track.

2. Be clear about what you want. If you have your heart set on a sit down dinner served on blue plates, be sure you let your caterer know. Oftentimes, caterers receive unclear direction from clients and provide options that do not fit the bride's idea of what her wedding reception meal should be like. Most caterers will ask details about what you want, as well as why you want it that way. It may seem like a lot of questions are asked prior to the planning of the menu but that simply is because the caterer wants to ensure you are happy with what is created for your special day.

3. Listen to your caterer. Caterers have a lot of experience with planning wedding reception menus and can provide suggestions that help you achieve your goals. If you have a very large wedding but a small budget, the caterer can help you find options that fit your needs and also stay within your budget. Listen to what your caterer has to offer, then ask questions. Often the caterer will give you a few options and you can choose from those or tweak them in order to meet your needs and desires. The key is listening to why your caterer is suggesting a certain option, then if you do not like it or want it for your event you can let him/her know.

4. Try the full menu before the big day. Most caterers offer you the chance to try the food prior to signing a contract for the big day so that you know the type and quality of food you will be serving your guests. While that is good first step, it is important to schedule a second tasting a few weeks prior to your wedding so that you can sit down and taste each item on the menu as if you were a guest at your wedding. The reason for this is that some items may sound great on paper, but once you see and try them you may not be pleased. Trying the food ahead of time allows you to tell your caterer what you like or dislike about different items, then make changes as necessary. Again, your caterer can make suggestions about good substitutions for specific items and you can listen to why he/she recommends certain options.

5. Assign someone close to you, but not in the wedding party to work with the caterer on the wedding day. This person could be your wedding planner or a family member who wishes to help you have the wedding of your dreams. Regardless, it is very important to ask someone to be the "go-to" person for questions from the caterer on the day of your wedding. You should introduce the assigned person to the caterer a few weeks ahead of time. At that time, all of you can walk through the set up, menu, and timing for the event. Then, on the day of your wedding you can have the caterer work directly with the assigned person rather than asking you questions that detract from your celebration.

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