6 Qualities of a Great Wedding Caterer

Wedding chef putting the finishing touches on the appetizers for a wedding reception

Many soon-to-be brides are a bit shocked at their quotes for wedding catering: when you decided you wanted a catered meal, you might not have imagined that the costs would add up this way! However, when a caterer is really wonderful, they more than earn the prices they charge, and the food at your wedding can be an unforgettably positive part of the day. Couples can choose from a dizzying array of options, but one great way to choose your caterer is based on the things they can offer. Consider these qualities when picking your wedding caterer.

Communicative and Easy to Talk to

A great caterer knows that responding quickly to inquiries with all the information you need is key to getting your business. They will treat all your inquiries seriously and will congratulate you on getting into the wedding planning process. Wedding caterers should express what they need and can offer given your venue, head count, and desires, all while keeping things light and positive.

A coin jar full of money saved for a wedding

Offers a Variety of Price Points to Fit Your Wedding Budget

Caterers who want to keep busy offer a variety of food options; sure, they may have some serious high-end sit-down dinners for hundreds of people, but they may also have simple reception options with only desserts and drinks. While some caterers are very specialized, the caterer that is right for you will have a few different options that fit what you are looking for so you don’t feel like you are stuck with only one food choice given your budget. They hopefully have done a lot of different kinds of events, so ask the caterers about creative and out-of-the-box options for fitting your budget and the vision you have. If they want your business, they’ll help you plan a menu that works for you.

Offers Tastings or a Detailed Discussion of the Food

Sampling cakes or foods can be some of the most fun elements of wedding planning: who doesn’t like evaluating food for its deliciousness? Caterers and cake bakers who stand by their creations wholeheartedly often offer tastings to show you just how great your wedding meals will be, but of course there are some contexts where this isn’t possible. Not getting a tasting isn’t a dealbreaker at all; you simply need to make sure that a caterer who cannot let you sample the food can give you some good details on what will be included, how food allergens will be avoided, and what caliber of ingredients can be expected. Ideally, they can send you pictures from the last time they served that dish. You’ll get all the information you need to have great faith in the results.

Waitress serving appetizers at a wedding reception

Hires Their Own Staff and Knows all Food Service Regulations

If bartenders and wait staff are needed for this catering job, your caterer should have the right amount of people on call to be able to serve your guests, be it buffet style, passed hors d’oeuvres, or a sit-down meal. They should know what kind of kitchen they need for prep, as well as what kinds of laws there are about bartending and alcohol service in your state. In general, they should discuss early on with you what their needs will be at your wedding venue so that you don’t have to even think about it on your big day.

Sends Clear Invoices and Payment Schedules

Caterers who are clear about their payment schedule and their costs will send an invoice that lays out all your expenses early in the quote process. They will also happily update the invoice over time to make sure that any changes are reflected. A great caterer will also get in touch close to when the wedding will occur so that they have an accurate headcount and can prepare any needed changes in requests from guests or the bridal party. What matters in this case is that these documents are prompt and easy to read; whether you are getting a simple meal of barbeque pork sandwiches or a fine china dinner with filet mignon, a great caterer is committed to giving you all the details you need.

Wedding guests getting food at a reception's buffet

Prioritizes Flexibility on the Big Day

While many caterers prefer solid numbers, the best caterers will understand if things go a little differently on the day of your wedding, when planning is no longer something you can do. If people show up unannounced, a great caterer will have prepared at least some kind of extra portion or way to help you handle one or two extra guests. Even if there isn’t extra food available, your caterer will easily interface with a day-of coordinator or wedding planner in order to make sure that your day happens exactly as you dreamed without any need for consternation on your part if some element of communication was missed.

Keep an eye out for caterers whose reviews mention these great qualities, and you’ll likely find an excellent caterer whose food will cause great choruses of “yum” throughout your reception.

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