Catering Basics: What To Know
Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now begins the planning for your wedding and reception. The food and drink for your reception might consume the largest portion of your budget, but with careful planning and thoughtful consideration of your guests, your caterer will help create the reception of your dreams!
Once you’ve chosen the venue for your reception, the caterer is the next vendor you will want to contact. Ensure they have the date available and plan your first visit. Your catering coordinator will become a valuable resource for information and creative ideas. Remember, the caterer has planned many receptions and you should use his/her experiences to your benefit!
Most caterers offer full service wedding packages that include the services of an experienced wedding coordinator and possibly everything from appetizers to cake! Packages have usually been created with the needs of a wedding reception in mind and can cover lots of little costs and needs that you wouldn't normally think of. Of course, many caterers also will offer the options of both a package or each needed item(s) separately - it is your choice how inclusive you want things.
Once the caterer is chosen, menu options are your next task! Most caterers will offer a tasting of their foods, but occasionally it may be at an extra cost. No matter, it is advisable to taste the food you will be serving your guests so you can make adjustments to provide your guests exactly the menu you want. Typically, there are many choices from which you may choose for your entrees and accompaniments, but if you would like Great Aunt Anna’s special mashed potatoes on your menu, your caterer might be able to make it happen!
There are also some fine points that you should check to see if your caterer provides; Does your caterer provide all china, glassware and silverware or are you required to rent these items? Does your caterer provide the linens? Can they provide chairs and tables? Who decorates the buffet? Is there a charge for a bartender and does the bartender carry liquor liability insurance? These are all important questions to ask in addition to asking how the charges for these things are handled - are they part of the package price, or will they each be charged separately?
Professional caterers will create an estimate for your reception once the menu and finer points have been decided. This should include all of the costs and have all of the costs broken down individually for you. Take your time when reviewing this and make sure everything you’ve requested has been addressed whether included in the package cost or individually charged. If it isn’t on the estimate, make sure it will be provided and at what cost.
There is occasionally a temptation to not use a professional caterer because of all the small costs that can seemingly add up fast, and it may seem like you can provide food yourself for a lot less money, but the caterer provides more than just the food. Some additional things the caterer handles are:
Clean up / clearing plates
China, Silverware and Glassware
Refilling food on the buffet and keeping it hot
On-site chef or food preparation
Cake cutting and serving
Wine/Champagne corkage and pouring
Table and chair rentals
Handling special dietary meals
Taking out the trash at the end of the night
No matter which caterer you choose or whether you choose a wedding package or create your own, the main goal of everyone involved is to make the reception everything you’ve ever wanted. Be prepared to ask questions, keep everyone involved informed of any changes that stray from the original plan, provide a timeline of the day’s happenings, put your trust in your vendors, relax and enjoy your special day!
Hoagʼs Catering is “at the heart of your event”. We are best known for our home-style approach to cooking, summer grill menus, “pig-out!” barbecues, and friendly & flexible service. Whether your dream wedding venue is in a rustic barn, backyard, or banquet facility - come see us to discuss what we can do for you!
2280 Commercial Blvd. State College, PA 16801