We have some of the most talented vendors across the country. Today, our Perfect Wedding Guide Los Angeles vendor Olympia Banquet Hall shared their advice on avoiding some of the pitfalls in looking for a caterer.
Catering for any event, but especially weddings can be tricky. You have to decide on what will please everyone while taking into consideration dietary restrictions and preferences—and if your wedding happens to have a theme, you might be required to figure out how the food should “match” it. You’ll have to determine how much food you will need in order to satisfy everyone, and you’ll need to choose a reputable caterer that has good reviews (and food!).
As you can see, there’s a lot of room for mistakes when planning your wedding caterer and menu. But if you do your research (like this article!), you can avoid those common wedding catering planning mistakes and have truly incredible food for your reception.
Here are the most commonly-made wedding catering planning mistakes. Make sure to avoid them!
Not Tasting First
A huge mistake that many couples make is not tasting the food their caterer makes before the wedding. They might figure, “Hey, it’s a catering company. They have to be good, right?” But this isn’t always the case. Some caterers have a stunning presentation, but the food is actually very bland. And sometimes they’re just bad all-around. But this is your wedding after all, and the food should be outstanding. Any good caterer will allow you to taste their food before you agree to hire them. Just ask.
Mis-timing the Delivery
Why is this so important? Because if you have the catering delivered too soon, the food can get cold before it’s served. On the other hand, if the catering is delivered too late, your guests are going to be starving. A good caterer will be able to offer wise input, but it’s important, as the host of the event, that you plan ahead as well. A good rule of thumb is to have the catering delivered a half-hour before serving time—and all of the food should remain covered until just before it’s served.
Ignoring Dietary Restrictions
Many, many people these days have dietary restrictions or preferences. Because you’ll want to offer something for everyone, it’s very important to include vegan and gluten-free options in your menu. While this might sound like a headache, it will win you big points with your guests—and besides, vegan and gluten-free foods can be utterly delicious. Be sure your caterer covers options like these.
It may also be wise to have your caterer list out the ingredients of each dish for you to display at the event. With all the allergies and dietary preferences, you can’t be too careful—and having the ingredients listed out for everyone will ensure that everyone knows what they’re eating. Having the caterer take this extra step might cost a bit extra, but it may be worth it.
Not Checking Out Reviews
If you’re working with a caterer that you’ve never worked with before, it’s extremely important to look up their reviews online. Catering is such an important part of any event, and if they have a reputation for being late, rude, overcharging, or having terrible service, you’ll definitely want to know about it. Surprisingly, many people don’t take this step, and their wedding reception suffers for it. Make sure your caterer is experienced and reputable.
Not Asking if There’s a Cake-Cutting Fee
This is one that can really sneak up on you. If you have a wedding cake and you expect your caterer to cut and serve it for you, be aware that they sometimes charge a fee. Since the average for this is $2 per slice, it’s certainly something you should ask your caterer about. If they’ll do it for free or for a reasonable price: great. If not, you may need to designate a friend or family member to cut and serve the cake instead.
Forgetting to Include Gratuity
This may sound small, but when the time comes to pay the bill and you’re expected to include something like $350 gratuity, it won’t feel small. In fact, you’ll probably be frustrated. Many people don’t think about gratuity because the caterer doesn’t always bring it up (because they don’t want you to back out). So, when discussing the fee with your caterer, be sure to also ask about gratuity—and if you still want to book them, budget for it.
Not Planning for Enough Food
This is another area where a good caterer should be able to help. If they have experience, they should know how much food to prepare based on your guest count. However, this is still one of the most common catering mistakes. You definitely don’t want the food to run out. A smart thing to do is to plan to feed 10 more people than your number of guests.
Not Feeding Vendors
Speaking of running out of food…if you’re having a band, DJ, a photographer, or any other type of vendor, consider if they will need to be fed as well. Many people are so focused on the guest count that they forget about having to feed their vendors as well. Keep in mind that there are many vendors who don’t expect to eat—but it’s very important to ask them before booking anyone. If they want food, you’ll need to include them in your head count for the caterer.
Not Getting a Contract
Getting a contract with your caterer is a very important step that many people simply don’t do. For whatever reason, they feel that a verbal agreement is enough. However, having a clearly-written contract that you both sign will include critical things, such as the final price that you agree on; what to do about any overtime fees; gratuity; deposits; insurance; getting your money back if they cancel; ensuring that they provide vegan options, etc. Get that contract!
It’s wise to consider holding your wedding reception in a banquet hall in order to avoid many of these mistakes. A banquet hall will typically have an in-house catering service with its own staff, which will ensure a contract, a taste test, excellent service, and most likely the cake-cutting fee. Delivery won’t be an issue since the food will be prepared right there in the venue’s kitchen and will therefore already be “delivered”. The caterer will also be highly vetted (and experienced) because they are part of the venue. They will have worked many, many weddings. For these reasons, it’s very smart to choose a banquet hall for your wedding venue.
Hopefully, this list of commonly-made wedding catering mistakes will help your catering process go much more smoothly. Remember: there’s no such thing as too many questions for your vendors. The more you ask, the less likely you are to have misunderstandings. And the more you research and plan, the better!
Great advice from an experienced wedding vendor, thanks so much for sharing!