Wedding Planning Ideas Wedding Reception Ideas

Expert Tips to Avoid a Catering Disaster

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You want your wedding reception to be picture-perfect, all the way down to the hors d’oeuvres. Here are a few rules of thumb to make sure your big day goes off with without a hitch.

Get an Early Start

You’ve been dreaming of this day ever since you were a little girl. You’ve had your colors picked out since last year and have already chosen the lineup of songs you want the band to play. Don’t risk a last-minute catering fiasco. You should begin researching caterers at least 9 months before your wedding. Schedule a meeting with each supplier at the top of your list so you’ll have the chance to find a caterer that can meet your each and every one of your wedding reception needs before you run out of time and schedules fill up.

Go Pro

DIY catering doesn’t have to mean disaster, but you’ll want to consider hiring a professional if your guest list exceeds 50 people. Not only is there the challenge of cooking all the food, but also setup, serving, keeping guests’ beverages fresh, and clean up. High-quality catering companies will be able to work with you to meet your budget without compromising your vision. Search online for local catering companies in your area to get a feel for your options.

Do Your Research

Let your taste buds be the judge. Inquire with prospective caterers about a tasting prior to signing a contract. This gives you the opportunity to experience the quality, style, and presentation of their food. You can also use this time to discuss how your ideas can be worked into a custom menu and judge the caterer’s willingness to partner with you from start to finish.

When you’re choosing a caterer, be sure to ask if their prices include food and beverages only, or if they cover the cost of staffing, linens, and tableware as well.


Professional caterers should understand your vision and expectations. Part of this is your responsibility. You should maintain regular contact with your supplier and request that they keep you informed of their plans. A caterer that is difficult to get a hold of or who makes a habit of forgetting what your wishes are is a big red flag. Your caterer should listen to your ideas and make you feel as though you are their only client.

Plan for Drop Ins and Drop Outs

At every wedding reception, one of two situations will happen. Either a group of people who did not RSVP turn up anyway, or guests you included in your dinner head count are no-shows. This can lead to last-minute panic for both the couple and their caterer. Ask your caterer how these circumstances will be handled ahead of time. Make sure they are prepared to adjust table settings and seating arrangements on short notice.

Choose Variety

If you’re planning a large reception, chances are good that your guests have many different tastes and dietary needs. Keep everyone happy by choosing a variety of hors d’oeuvres and entrees. Consider a buffet-style meal with lots of options your guests can pick and choose from.

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