The care and feeding of guests.

Goodness…another week, another Wednesday! I can’t believe how quickly the days are flying by. We’re right here at the 2-month mark, and it is CRUNCH time! I just submitted our invitations to the printer (luckily for me, a friend from b-school happens to have a friend who owns a printing company and can print my self-designed invites). Keep an eye out for Sunday’s entry about designing your own invites and DIY calligraphy.

But for today, I’d like to talk a bit about caterers. Yours and mine. Mostly because I’ve had food on the brain for the last week!! It’s a big week…dress fitting coming up on Monday. So I’ve been trying to eat healthfully and squeeze in some workouts–which has just been making me think about all the delicious things I could be eating, like this beautiful tart:

Photo via La Tartine Gourmande

Um…..yes, please. We happened to find our caterer through our venue. Luckily for us, our venue doesn’t require use of any particular caterer–but they do offer recommendations. And the one we picked was our very, very favorite. Our menu includes fresh pico de gallo with homemade creme fraiche and spice-rubbed pork…yum…. as well as several vegetarian options. We picked this caterer because it was the EXACT combination of things we wanted: beautiful plating, attentive service, delicious food, and the use of locally and ethically grown produce and meat.

So, how do you go about picking the best caterer for you, in the sea of options out there?

1) Find out whether your venue has any requirements for caterers or “preferred” caterers. Often you will have to pay an extra fee if you use a caterer not on these lists.

2) Decide what you want in your caterer. What’s most important to you? Taste? Price? Vegetarian options? A wide variety of menu items? Organic choices? Decide which are your top 2 or 3 requirements. This will make it easier for you to compare caterers.

3) Talk to other brides. Read reviews. Get recommendations from neighbors, coworkers, whoever has used any of the caterers you’re thinking about using. Get the inside scoop on whether they live up to their promises. The caterer should also be able to give you a list of references.

4) After you’ve narrowed down your choices, call and schedule tastings. Bring along some friends so you can share opinions…plus, YUM! Most caterers offer free tastings.

5) Find out what other services your caterer offers. Many offer decorating services (linens, chargers, chair covers, even vases and candleholders) that are complimentary. Find out what they have and use them if at all possible! One great thing about our caterer was the attention to detail they provided. Not only do they serve up our food first: they also stand there and make sure nobody bothers us while we’re trying to eat (sounds a little weird, I know, but it should only be 15 minutes…and Dr. Dave and I would like a little one-on-one before we start making the rounds!). They also noted that I like my food plated separately so that it doesn’t touch. Call me high-maintenance, but…

6) Get a complete price quote. Make sure it includes glass rentals and all those fun things, so you don’t get blindsided by add-ons.

7) Be sure to follow up with the caterer to find out important dates (when to give them final numbers, etc.).

Because our wedding will be destination for about 70% of the attendees, we definitely wanted to make sure a great meal was provided…down to serving light food and sparkling water before the ceremony (to fight off altitude sickness!) and a variety of homemade cakes and pies for dessert. Your guests will truly appreciate that little tiny extra bit of effort into providing some delicious tidbits for them!

And finally, don’t forget to take some time on your wedding day to enjoy the food. You want to have a little time to relax with your new hubby and get some food in your body (especially if nerves keep you from eating that morning).

What’s most important to you when choosing your caterer?