13 Steps in Selecting a Caterer

Planning a wedding is work with lots of decisions. Some more important than others. One of the most important decisions besides the venue you will make is the food. It may be catered by the venue, by an external caterer, or if the wedding is very small, can be done at home.

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Your budget and hospitality style along with other factors will guide you along. Here are some thoughts about things to consider.

  1. Spicy versus Non-Spicy. Make sure your guests are not running for the firehose. Although South Asians have a preference for spicy food, that with coming generations is slowly fading. With food you have to meet the lowest common denominator, unless you plan to have two versions of the same dish: spicy and non-spicy.
  2. Vegetarian/Vegan. As you determine your guest list, it is important to find out if there are guests who may be Vegetarian, Vegan, or have other dietary restrictions.
  3. Type of Cuisine. Indo-Pakistani, Arab, Afghan, Persian, North African, East African, Chinese, American, the list is endless. if the majority of your guests come from a particular background that may help guide you. Of course the tastes of the bride and groom are important too, it is their wedding.
  4. Type of Meat. It is a given that if you are going to have meat it needs to be Zabiha/Halal.
  5. Tastings and Trials. Once you have narrowed down the potential caterers, it is time to make appointments and go on tastings. Take a notebook with you.
  6. Questions. Ask questions about how the has caterer handled a similar number of guests that you will be having. How did they handle the logistics? Preferred caterers at venues have better coordination that someone who may be doing it for the first time.
  7. Preparation. Will the cooking be done at a restaurant or do they have a special kitchen to handle the volume of a wedding? For appetizers versus the entrees, when will the food be prepared, delivered? How will it stay fresh, hot, cold.
  8. The Ordering Process. Ask and review about the ordering of food. You typically want to start with the main dishes e.g. rice, pasta, salads and work your way towards the more exotic dishes like kabobs.
  9. Drinks. How will drinks like sodas, juices, and hot beverages like coffee, tea be handled?
  10. Extra Food. What will they do with excess food? Do you get it, and if so what kind of containers do you need to get it and share it with family and friends.
  11. The Cake. How will the coordination of the cake delivery, and serving be handled?

There are probably many other factors, but this is meant to whet your appetite (pun intended).

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