Top tips on the Catering Meeting the caterer

The catering arrangements are generally dictated by which venue is chosen – for example, if it is a hotel, they will use their own staff for the event. However, if the venue does not have a dedicated catering team on site, it is possible to arrange for your own caterers. Often a venue will have a list of preferred companies that they will recommend to you because they have been used before on a regular basis, have proved to be professional and are familiar with the venue and its facilities. In this case, you should arrange to meet with at least three of the caterers on the list, asking them initially to provide sample menus, so that you can get a feel for the style of cuisine and their costs. Once you have perused the information and had your meeting, you should request a menu tasting, to experience firsthand the quality of both the food and their service.

Top tip

Be cautious of any caterer who is not willing to give a food tasting, as this is a crucial part of the decision process for both parties. it allows time to discuss different dishes and tastes, and provides a perfect opportunity for the caterer to impress with his presentation. You can confirm exactly what you would like before it is put in front of you on the day of the wedding. At this meeting it is vital that all details are covered and that you feel satisfied that all aspects of their service have been clarified.

Special dietary requirement

Your guests' dietary requirements should always be considered. If any special requirements were requested through your replies, hopefully you will be informed of any halal, kosher or particular religious or medical needs that will have to be met. Give the caterer as much notice as possible for these individuals, so that they can arrange a suitable alternative.

 

Crockery, glassware and cutlery

Ask to see the caterer's range of crockery, glassware and cutlery. Check whether these items are included in the price of the menu, or if they are supplied at an additional cost. If the style is not suitable — perhaps you would like to match a colour scheme or follow a current trend — contact a catering equipment hire company such as Jones who advise that many couples now choose from a range of crockery from classic white, with gold edges, or cream ware to the more unique pewter, oriental dishes or coloured glass plates and coordinating pieces, as they know the significant design difference it can make.' The glassware offered by the caterer is usually of a basic style and this again can be upgraded to a more individual piece, such as a striking blue cobalt water glass, or a Venetian green champagne glass, a martini glass speckled with bubbles or a designer piece by John Rocha or Jasper Conran! Given a limitless budget your tables can look incredibly innovative and spectacular; however, just an extra thought about colours — for example, using an emerald green water glass on the table to accentuate a colour scheme —will add an enhanced dimension to your decors.

Linen

The same applies to the linen being offered by the caterer. There should be a complete breakdown of costs for all the equipment hire and you will be able to calculate and compare the cost of the traditional white linen cloths and-napkins against a more interesting fabric or colour, such as a pink and white gingham fora summer wedding, or a striking purple cloth fora medieval winter celebration. Equipment hire companies will also supply linen and furniture for your wedding, and as couples are becoming a lot more adventurous with their choices, it is useful to know that whatever your theme, you .will be able to coordinate and complete the look successfully by using specialist supplier.

Top tip

If you choose to change the linen, glassware or crockery provided by the caterer, ensure that if they arrange the new additional items themselves, there is not a significant fee for this service. If so, it is possible to arrange collection and delivery of the new items yourself to save on the budget However, do bear in mind the time and effort involved, particularly if you do not live near to a supplier's warehouse.

Fumiture

Furniture is another consideration, although in most cases the tables themselves are more or less standard and only require a decision on whether to go for round or rectangular. Having round tables for guests instead of the traditional long rectangular styles has become more popular, as it has for the top table as well. This configuration allows guests to socialize more freely and often the bridal party prefer a round table as they feel less on show to the whole room, and people at the ends do not feel on their own! The style of chairs is very important as well. If your wedding is to have the 'wow' factor, there are more exclusive ranges of tables and chairs available to hire, in clear, black and coloured perspex, funky retro designs, benches, sofas, bar stools and bean bags — the list goes on — which will definitely impress your guests! Some hire companies are able to supply wonderfully stylish furniture; however, they often only deal with the trade, and therefore if you have a Wedding Planner organizing your wedding, he/she will have to approach them for costs and availability on your behalf, or alternatively the management at the venue will be able to arrange the booking.

Menus

Most caterers will supply sample menus to show the style of cuisine in which they specialize and although these are only a sample of the ideas they can suggest, they are still a good starting point, offering packages with three course menus including coffee. However, it has become more usual to design a bespoke menu based both on the couples' and their guests' preferences, tailoring the cuisine to each individual's requirements. Today our tastes have become far more sophisticated and we are more discerning in our expectations.

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