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wedding cakeChoosing a Caterer

Choosing a good caterer is crucial to having a wedding that your guests are sure to enjoy. Some may argue that the food served at the wedding is the most important part of the wedding. After all, guests who enjoy their meal are likely to be in better spirits than guests who have eaten very little or who have not enjoyed their meal. Also, remember that your guests have gone out of their way to attend your wedding and serving them a great meal is an important way to show them how much you appreciate them being there.

Many wedding venues offer on site catering and more importantly do not allow off site caterers to work at your wedding. Since most couples choose the location for their wedding before considering their catering options, it is important to ask about the venue's policies regarding outside caterers. This is important because many venues will only allow you to use their caterer or a caterer that they recommend. In this situation it is crucial that you choose the venue for your wedding, not only on the appearance of the rooms but also on the quality of the food they offer. Although a venue may have picturesque views and gorgeously decorated rooms, if the food is not up to par you may want to consider a different venue in which to host your wedding.

A great place to start your search for a qualified caterer is to ask friends and relatives for their recommendations. If you have recently attended a wedding that served fabulous food, you might want to contact the host of that wedding to inquire about their caterer. Recommendations are important because the best indication of how good the food will be is how well the food was received in the past.

If you are unable to obtain a few recommendations for caterers, try using the Internet and phone books to research local caterers. You could use the Internet and then make direct calls to the caterer to learn about their availability, menu options and prices. Once you obtain this information you will be able to eliminate caterers who are already booked for your wedding date and who are out of your price range. Next you will want to consider the menu options of the remaining caterers. If you have a specific menu in mind and none of the caterers have the items you are looking for available, you might want to check with them to see if they will be able to prepare your favorite dishes. Many skilled caterers are fully capable of preparing many dishes besides what they list on their menu.

Finally, once you have narrowed your choices down to three or four candidates, call them all back and ask them if they are available for tasting sessions in the near future. If a caterer does not offer tasting sessions, strike them off your list immediately unless you have tasted their food at previous weddings. Without tasting their food, there is really no way to decide if the caterer is right for your wedding. It is important to decide on a few possible menu choices prior to the tasting session so that you can ask the caterer to prepare these specific dishes. While there is some merit to tasting general items from the caterer's menu, it is always best to taste the exact items that will be prepared at your wedding to ensure that the food will meet your expectations. It is acceptable to ask that the caterer prepare a few options for each course to be served on the day of your wedding. This will aid in the decision making process. Plan on sampling about two to three bites from each dish to really get a feel for the flavor of the dish. Also, try not to schedule more than one tasting session on any particular day. Trying too many dishes on one day can dull your taste buds plus you may have difficulty remembering which caterer prepared which dish.

After each tasting session take notes on the dishes that were prepared and your opinions of these dishes. You might also want to assign a numerical rating from one to ten for each dish. It is important that you do this immediately after each session so that you are sure to remember the details as well as your opinions of the food. After your final tasting session, you will want to compare notes from all of the previous tasting sessions. If you took careful notes, you should be able to determine which caterer had the best available dishes. In choosing a caterer you may find that one caterer had delicious entrees but bland appetizers or salads. You may find that another caterer had a variety of delicious appetizers but that the entrees all fell short of your expectations. Still another caterer may not have had any courses really stand out but had each course receive an above average rating. In this case you might want to consider the caterer that had a menu that was well balanced so that none of your courses wind up being sub par.

Your caterer can make or break your wedding so it is important to choose them wisely. Recommendations and personal experiences are some of the best ways to choose a caterer. You should also consider scheduling tasting sessions to try out the exact dishes that will be on your menu before you make your final decision. Remember to stay in touch with your caterer and follow up with them one month and one week before the wedding to make sure they are still in business!

For ideas on caterers and bakeries that prepare wedding cakes, see Caterers and Bakeries & Cakes.

 
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