For better or worse, hiring a caterer can be one of the most daunting tasks when planning a wedding. It’s food, after all. Food is what brings people together. At your rehearsal dinner or reception, it can unite or…not. So, Sammy B’s Co-owner and Catering Manager Gina Stradley agreed to share some important tips and mistakes to avoid when working with caterers.
1. Don’t cut corners (i.e., be honest about your budget)
I’m naturally artistic, and as a caterer, this is where I work very hard to make my clients’ visions come to life. However, there are limits. I hate to be the one to ruin culinary dreams for a couple, so YOU MUST CREATE AND UNDERSTAND your budget. A caterer will be honest with you and help you discern what’s doable and what’s a no-go. You want a caterer that’s not afraid to say “no.” If they are offering something that seems too good to be true, it is.
2. Let your caterer guide you with the menu.
Odds are this is your ﬁrst time planning the food for a wedding reception. Your caterer has likely done this hundreds or thousands of times. Take advantage of their expertise. We know that in the heat summer cheese sweats and fruit attracts ﬂies. We know good alternatives. And I promise you that our goal is to make it look as beautiful as you imagined.
3. Make a list and check it twice.
Include everyone, not just those on the guest list (add a few more for those guests who don’t RSVP. Trust me there’s always a handful!). Your photographer, ﬂorist, wait staff, planner are all working to make your day spectacular and unless you don’t mind them leaving to grab a burger, include them in your head count so there’s enough food.
4. Meet/interview your caterer.
Unless you’ve tasted the food or experienced the professionalism of the caterer personally, you need to set up an in-person or phone consultation. It isn’t until you get face (or phone) time with the caterer that you can really know what he or she is all about, and vice-versa. This is the ﬁrst opportunity to show you their style. Anyone can print beautiful brochures and have a fancy website. The proof is in the product.
5. Don’t curate your menu around one person’s taste.
If you have special dietary needs or restrictions, the time to let your caterer know is as soon as possible. The sooner I know about your strawberry allergy or hatred of onion, the more gracefully the catering team can work around it. However, this is not an excuse to push your beliefs or restrictions on the rest of your family and friends. It’s my responsibility to please the wedding couple and all of their guests, and that includes “meat-and-potatoes-only” Uncle Fred and “there-must-be-a-ﬁsh-option” crazy cousin. Thankfully, there’s a happy medium that falls between gluten-free everything and well-done ﬁlet mignon for 300. We can help you create the perfect menu that everyone will remember as fondly as the ﬁrst dance.