Who are the best Caterers and how to choose one?
In our earlier post, we shared some tips on how to choose a caterer like budget, testimonials, style, etc. Now once you have shortlisted some of the caterers, from among them let us tell you how you can finalize the Best wedding caterer. But before discussing this, let us first know why is it even important to have your wedding catered by the best caterer in town.
You see, when it comes to weddings, the single most important thing which will make the wedding a success or failure, is the experience your guests witness at your wedding. Just ask yourself, if you are invited to a wedding reception; as a guest would you be concerned with the décor or entertainment or bride & groom’s attire or your thoughts revolve around the food which you will be eating in while? Be honest. We all know the answer, of course, people come to the wedding to bless the couple no doubt in it, but they also accept the wedding invite mainly for the food treat they’re going to get at the dining table, not even on Groom or Bride’s attire.
With that said, know, the good food at your wedding party can outweigh a poor ambiance but the bad food will definitely leave a bitter impression on your guests and will overshadow the perfect décor or other entertainment.
In summary, great food can rescue your wedding from small mishaps that may occur at your wedding but a bad catering will send your guests to the doors or in the worst case send them to the restrooms. Needless to say 10 other issues like food shortage, food low on taste, low-quality food, type of serving whether quantified limited portions or unlimited portions till the guests are satisfied, etc., Hence opting for the best wedding caterer is very crucial for your function.
In addition to this, you also need to look at it from the budget aspect, because catering often shuffles between #1 & #2 spot in terms of cost, the other being the venue. The caterer you choose will leave you with the balance amount from your budget in to deciding other elements for your wedding celebration like décor, entertainment etc..
In fact, the food cost will vary dramatically between the caterers for the type of food, quality and services they offer, and in literal terms it is like comparing apples to oranges. (written with pun fun intention).
We often have to deal with clients, who bring a quote 2-3 times lower than our quote and tell us to reduce the price. What they fail to see is, in the market you find all the types ranging from low-cost, budget friendly to high-end caterers simply because there is a market for client of all budget types “low cost, budget and high end”
A high-end client would approach a high-end & more sophisticated Caterer, because to them Guests satisfaction is of importance & they don’t mind paying high price to these caterers, because they know they’re getting value for money. While people with limited budgets opt for budget caterers since for them budget is the criterion.
Never mind, what category of client of client you fall into, the following tips will definitely help you in choosing the best wedding caterer for your reception. Regardless of the occasion whether a wedding or any other function, you can follow the same checklist for choosing the best caterer for any of your function.
So let’s dive into some of the points you need to consider when deciding for the Best Caterer: Ask yourself these questions for each of your shortlisted caterer from the following checklist:
- Is the Caterer prompt & responsive
- Is the Caterer showing personal interest
- Is the Caterer flexible and accommodative of my needs
- Is the Caterer able enough to handle my event
- Has the Caterer previously catered at the same venue
- What is included in the catering service
- How does the caterer work
- What is the experience of the catering company
- Is the Caterer having enough testimonials
- Is the Caterer open to provide references to talk to
- Is the Caterer professional and have a proper contract
- Is the Caterer registered in the local area to run catering business
1) The best caterer is the one who is Prompt & Responsive:
There are many caterers in the city who claim to be professional but when it comes to responding to the inquiries they often lack this professionalism. If the caterer is slow in responding to the inquiries; it means they do not take their clients seriously, which also mean they’re not so serious about their business . If the caterer is prompt in responding to your mails/calls take this as a note they are serious having business with you.
Tip: The best caterer is the one who is very responsive at every step, from onset of your 1st wedding inquiry to order finalization until the order is executed.
2) Is the Caterer showing personal interest:
Prompt responses are not the only thing you should see in a Caterer. Is the caterer showing personal interest is of equal importance too. Often the good caterers provide timely responses with specific replies to specific queries. As if doing the job. But the best caterer goes a step further and shows interest in your event making you feel as if it’s their family event.
On an average, 20-30% of communication should be from the Caterer asking you the event details and the balance 70-80% should be by you answering those queries of the Caterer.
Tip: The questions to anticipate from the caterers are:
>> Purpose of the event ie, occasion,
>> Details of the Venue,
>> Your Budget,
>> Your goal out of this event (what’s your vision for this event)
>> Is there a theme for your wedding event. Etc., these questions will help the caterers serve their clients in a better way.
Note: Showing personal interest and asking as many details as possible sets the best wedding caterer apart from the rest of the caterers.
3) A flexible caterer is the best and is accommodating of Client’s needs:
Usually, all caterers have their specific menu basically a standard menu which their team/chefs are good at. But a standard menu cannot be considered as a perfect menu which will suit the tastes of everybody. Hence, the caterer should be flexible enough to adapt to clients’ needs. Like if you are hosting a theme wedding then the food you serve should complement the theme of your wedding.
If your caterer isn’t adaptive, the charm of your wedding is lost. So when choosing the best wedding caterer you cannot afford to miss this point. Ask your caterer if they have prior experience into catering such events or serving specific menus; if the answer is NO, check are they willing to be flexible to accommodate your requests?. This is not restricted to themed weddings, special requests can also be for dietary requirements or omission of specific ingredients, etc. the caterer should give in to your needs.
Tip: If they sound rigid then back off and head to the next caterer who is willing to accommodate your requests.
The best Caterer should be able to handle the event:
Most of the Caterers specialize in large scale events however some caterers’ expertise is only smaller events like birthday parties, housewarming ceremonies or wedding receptions with a lesser guest count. You should get the facts right before finalizing the caterer. If you have shortlisted on the caterers ask them if they have expertise in catering to events of same or around similar capacity/guests count. If they affirm in yes, ask for references and talk to their previous clients and ask the questions you might have in your mind, like:
>> How well did the caterer execute their function,
>> Did the caterer deliver what they promised?
>> Were there any surprises in the event?
>> Will they consider taking the same caterer again in future etc.?
Caution: People have a tendency of getting easily influenced by others’ feedback, if the person is talking negatively about the caterer ask him/her on what basis is s/he telling this, is it their personal experience or is their opinion influenced by someone in the guests or relatives, chances are the negative remark came out from the person because he wanted to do the catering on own or wanted to arrange one of their acquaintance to this function and because the client did not entertain them and went ahead with a caterer of their choice. They had to say all but good about the caterer.
5) Has the Caterer previously catered at the same venue?
Hiring a Caterer who has previously catered at the same venue as yours will save you from quite a few surprises especially when you choose a venue having a clause of “certain rules to be followed”. For example, some venues do not allow charcoal / cooking on wood for the reason of avoiding the smoke. when the caterer all prepared reaches the venue only to find wood ain’t allowed, you’ll be in a shock as to how the gas cookers & cylinders need to be arranged, or if the cooking is to be on induction how is that going to be done.
Even at Elite Caterers, we have found it a lot simpler and easier carrying out catering orders at the venues we had previously catered as compared to the venues we are catering for the first time. Hence, it is best to ask your caterer if they have prior experience, additionally, a site visit is highly encouraged even if the caterer is familiar with the venue.
6) What is included in the Catering Service?
Food catering usually covers only food. Serving staff, serve-ware, dining tables, etc. are mostly supplied by the venue management. However, it does not harm you if things are clear from the beginning, ask your caterer what is included in the price they’ve quoted. Comparing the price for the given service with other caterers will give you a fair idea about where each caterer stands, if the price quoted seems too high or too low compared to average of others, ask the caterer the reason of this difference, are there any services included in it other than food, if not ask them the source of the ingredients, raw food items etc., because the quality of food is the single most criterion to decide on the price of the quote and how the final outcome of the cooked food is going to be.
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this post, price of the catering quote varies from caterer to caterer depending on the class of the caterer. Another aspect could be the serve-ware, if your order requires the serve-ware from the Caterer, you have to see whether all caterers are supplying the same, otherwise the comparison would be meaningless if you are questioning a caterer with highest price with fine china serve-ware because the other caterer’s quote is too low – you might have overlooked this caterer is supplying plastic serve ware.
So you will need to carefully review each quotation so as not to compare the price of a sophisticated caterer delivering 5-star service with a budget Caterer who may compromise on the quality of ingredients & cooking methods.
7) How does the Caterer work?
You definitely need to ask your Caterer about their action Plan if you award the order to them.
The professional caterers like other businesses have Quality plan, strategy plan, business plan etc. which they follow in their business. If your caterer provides this, meaning you can relax as they can be termed as professional catering company and that they’ll follow what has been communicated to you, whether it is procuring of material, logistics, cooking, food handling or serving.
Tip: Like wedding planner is to the décor of the venue and other elements, a caterer is to the dining table, a good caterer will take great care in designing the décor of the table matching the food presentation.
8) What is the experience of the Catering Company?
People learn from their mistakes, this famous saying fits every business or an individual. The more experience you have the more you grow, when deciding on the caterer, you should definitely see how old this business is. Minimum of 3 years and comfortably 5-6 years of experience should be the criterion when you are looking for a caterer for the wedding reception with high guest count. You definitely do not want to get surprises at the most memorable event of your life.
Besides years of experience, you also need to check if the catering company has rich experience in catering different occasions like Weddings, corporate, small parties, indoor, outdoor catering, catering in banquet halls to huge function halls, catering for small crowd to large crowds. Look at their business website for photos of their catered events. These parameters will ensure your caterer is having vast experience and chances of your wedding reception being a huge success will be higher.
Tip: Know that a professional catering company with rich experience will deliver an exceptionally inspired wedding.
9) Is the Caterer having enough Testimonials?
Online reviews, client testimonials on Caterer’s website, and personal recommendations are something you shouldn’t ignore. Look online at oogle reviews, or other platforms where your caterer is listed. Carefully glance thru all the reviews. If there are many and you are short of time, then filter the reviews and read top rated to least rated reviews to analyze the caterer’s ability & service. This will greatly help you in deciding who could be the best Caterer for your wedding reception.
10) Is the Caterer open to providing references?
After shortlisting the caterers, ask the caterer to provide references of their previous clients. Don’t just ask for their names, but their contacts. A good caterer will not hide the information. You can specifically request the reference of someone whose review on google rating / testimonials websites caught your attention.
11) Professional catering company should have a proper contract:
One of the things that will ensure you are dealing with professionally top rated catering company is that they’ll have a contract in place. Do not be suspicious, the contract is simply to safeguard them as well as their client (you) from unforeseen scenarios.
The contract should be clear on:
>> Scope of the Caterer,
>> Scope of Client,
>> Detailed menu with each item listed clearly,
>> Type of catering service,
>> Event and Venue details, number of guests,
>> Scope is the leftover food (by default the leftover food is the property of the caterer and is taken by the caterer after the event is over – however you can place request in advance if you like to take some portion of the leftovers).
Tip: You know you are dealing with best wedding caterer if they are transparent in everything even small details like setup / cleanup, when to serve, leftovers, payment terms etc
12) Is the Caterer registered in the local area to run catering business?
One of the criteria of finalizing the caterer for your wedding reception is ensuring if the caterer is registered with the local governing body.
Considering a registered catering company will save you all the surprises you may have to encounter dealing with unprofessional /unregistered company.
So these are the top 12 points you should consider when on a lookout for the best wedding caterer for your wedding reception. We hope this checklist will serve as a guide and save you lot of time.
Share in the comments below your own way of choosing the best caterer for your functions and let others know also, most appropriate comments will be included as additional points in our current after modifying the current post.
If you want to know what all questions you should be asking your wedding caterer then head straight to theknot’s blog “questions to ask your wedding caterer”.
These tips are top notch and would definitely make decision making much more easier for me. We want to hire a caterer for my niece’s wedding ceremony and it seems like I would be the one task with that because I’m the most sivusbke in the family and that is the reason I have decided to make enquiries and research on what makes an outstanding caterer. Thanks for thee information made available here on this platform. I have gotten more than enough information and I’d try to keep in mind all of these. Thanks
Thanks RoDarrick, I am glad the information shared here is helpful to you. Btw congratulations on your niece’s wedding. Good luck.
There’s a function we have coming up. You see we have had some very bad experience with caterer’s over the years. They really dont seem to be satisfying. Seeingbthay you can out up a list of what one should do when looking for a caterer is really good. This will be of immense help to me. I and my sister will do the choosing after I share this with her. Thanks.
Wonderful John, happy that our list is going to help you in choosing the best caterer in your family wedding. Cheers.
You are so right that the food at a wedding is of utmost importance! It doesn’t matter if it is simple food or a super extravagant spread, wedding food needs to really bring out the personalities of the bride and groom, and that can’t be done without a caterer that takes a personal interest and pride in the job they do. Thanks to you, I now have a greater understanding of what I can do to make sure my wedding caterers are the right ones for me. Thanks!
Yeah, you are right Josie, having a good Caterer is crucial in deciding the success of any event. Thanks for stopping by.
Caterers in ceremonies are one of the light of the events. Situations where the event planning is all good but the caterer ain’t good makes the whole show a failure as it could upset guest at your event which is something we all don’t want to see or hear. Well, thanks for these wonderful tips on how to know a good caterer, it would go a long way to helping anyone make the decision on picking a caterer for their event. Best regards
Absolutely Dane, a good or bad caterer can make or ruin an event despite having perfect event planning.
We know the fact, Guests remember any event for the experience they got at any function especially the dining experience, hence at Elite Caterers we take extra measures to ensure the event of our client becomes special with our food and service.
I always feel that to get a really good caterer for a wedding you are going to have to be ready to spend some good money. The food in a wedding is absolutely very important. It is like it can save the day. I am not yet married but hopefully one day I would. These criteria for choosing the best caterer would be absolutely helpful and I am going to be revisiting this page which is why I have bookmarked it.
That is so kind of you Jay to think about your guests by offering them good food. We are happy our post was of help to you. We wish you success in the future. regards team Elite
We had our wedding for almost a year now! And it went really well! Caterer is one of the most important things for us. I agree with your first point in this article. Prompt and responsive. If you can’t talk to them properly in the planning stage, most likely, you will struggle dealing with them on the day of your wedding. A lot of scammers are out there nowadays, you have to make sure that the caterer you want to get is registered in your local area! All the best guys! Great article by the way!
Thanks AJ glad you liked our article.
Btw, congratulations for the wedding.
A wedding is a massive day especially for the bride the groom and the families so I guess it is so important to pick the right caterer for the event so that everything goes smoothly. You correctly outline what qualities are desirable in a good caterer, for example, are they showing a personal interest in the event, are they flexible to cater for your needs, can they handle the event, what events have they done in the past, do they have good customer testimonials, etc. You are correct it should not always boil down to the price there are so many other things to take into consideration so it is important to look at the whole package.
On point Fintan, Most of the people are concerned with the concerned about the cost only, what they fail to understand is, they have other ways to cut down on the costs if their budget isn’t permitting them to exceed. For example, they can compromise on the decor and the entertainment or even call less number of pax but provide a good dining experience. This will help keep their guests remember the event with pleasing memories.
I feel like sharing an experience with you guys, I was at a friends wedding and everything was running smoothly until it was time for the reception, my friend came to me and was about to cry, I was so surprised, when I asked her what happened she said the caterer I no where to be found and half of the delicacies for the reception isn’t there. After am tye worrying, we discovered she was arrested, she got into a fight with someone when she was supposed to be arranging for the reception. Thanks for sharing this post, it’ll really help people a great deal in planning their occasion when it comes to catering.
That is so sad about your friend and for the caterer too. See these incidents can happen to anyone, but we can to an extent reduce the impact of consequences by working with a professional company working as a team. This doesn’t apply for Catering alone, dealing with an established company will ensure you have a smooth execution of the order.
We are glad you liked the article.
The caterers are SO important at not just weddings but most events. Get it wrong and it is all that guests will remember. No matter the venue, the beauty of the day, the ceremony, if the caterers food or service is poor, then this will be the lasting memory. So why would you take the risk? Having said that, quality comes at a price and not everyone has the budget for the best. I appreciate then that it does become a balancing act and sometimes caterers have to have multiple levels of what they provide.
Your ideas are great and worth considering when planning an event in need of food and wait staff.
Spot on Peter, whether good or bad – it becomes a lasting memory. Thanks for stopping by.
I love the fact that you stated that the main reason for people that come to the wedding is that they want to bless the couple but you also added that a delicious food treat is equally important because a bad food will greatly overshadow all other beautiful things that were done at the weddding. So underlining the fact that choosing a caterer is very important.
I will surely email the link to your blog post to my nephew who is planning on getting married soon because he needs to ask your 12-point questions about every shortlisted caterer he want to contract for his wedding.
Thanks for producing this vital document and I will keep it and use it to help my relatives and friends that are planning weddings anytime.
Absolutely Chris, people do come to bless the couple but that’s secondary for them (unless of course, they’re very close to the bride/groom), their main concern is the food, well who doesn’t love a free treat?
Thanks for being kind enough to share it with your nephew, and we’re glad it’ll be helpful to your fam.
Thanks for the informative and helpful article. I got great insights from your post.
I totally agree with you apart from everything the food we provide to our guest is of utmost importance. Whether the food is good or bad, people talk about their experience for the rest of their lives.
I struggled to stop my laughter when I read “bad catering will send your guests to the doors or in the worst case will send them to the restrooms.” lol.
The 12 checklist you shared to choose the best Caterers is very helpful and I can see the experience and the passion you have for this business. This checklist will save people’s trouble, time, effort and money.
I am from India, Tamil Nadu. I do have friends in Hyderabad will share your details with them.
I really enjoyed the content and in the manner that you presented.
Thanks Paul for stopping by.
Yes it does happen, chances of mild food poisoning are possible, this happens majorly because caterers use low-quality ingredients and reason for this is the client who wants 10s of items without raising their budget. Sadly some of the caterers agree and compromise on the quality and poor guests with weak immune have to suffer.
We offer PAN India services, sometime in the future we’d love to cater to you in any of your function in Tamil Nadu. 🙂
Without doubt, this can be one of the most stressful and expensive decisions we will have to make during our lifetimes. Most often this should be the case, basing on the fact that it is also one of the most important events in our lives. Cost for the whole event can be as costly, if not more so, than the price of your new car or the deposit on your first house. Either way, it is something that will remain with you and your spouse for the rest of your life.
Having your own personal checklist is a necessity and if the caterers can enhance this, so much the better. The questions they can ask will add to the choices we have to make, a good sign will be those that can make suggestions that will make the ocassion even better. Let’s face it, for many of us this will be our first time, for the caterer, however, they may have done hundreds of events. It’s worth listening to what they suggest.
Your checklist is comprehensive and is worth making a note of when it comes to the time. In todays competitive world the caterer should be trying their utmost to gain your trust and put your mind at ease. There will be enough going on, during your special day, without having the added worry of something going awry with the food or service. I have found that looking for reviews and feedback from previous clients is a very good way to gauge a companies reputation.
This is an excellent and informative article on choosing a wedding caterer. It carries important details on how to make this special occasion a success regarding food (decorations etc.).
You have suggested additional food for the occasion and arrangement take it back or keep in for sharing as an option. This is excellent.
What happens if the food comes short?
I was intimately involved with the wedding of my relatives where food fell short and some guests were not happy. The groom’s side was blaming us creating an unpleasant situation. As far as I know, we got the expected number of guests but the caterer did not deliver enough food.
I want this mistake not to be repeated again in any of our weddings.
What would I do avoid this kind of situation in the future? I am just curious to know if you have branches operating throughout India, especially at Bhubaneswar?
I am sorry to know of the unpleasant incident at the reception of one of your relatives. These incidents can happen at any function – sometimes it is undercalculation by the hosts, sometimes by the caterer and at times host and the caterer is right in their calculations but the food is so tasty that the guests end up overeating resulting in the shortage. Regardless of the main reason, it is the caterer’s skills & presence of mind to tackle the situation to avoid any embarrassment. The food can be quickly arranged from outside or if they’ve grocery supplies they can arrange cooking at the venue itself after realizing there is going to be a shortage. Usually, the caterers prepare the food 10% more than the ordered amount, so chances of shortage are rare. That said, Elite Caterers have vast experience in the catering field, and as we know our food taste is going to be extremely delicious, we prepare the food well beyond 10%. Just to give an idea, last week we catered for a wedding reception (Valima Dinner) in Hyderabad, the order was for 800 Pax. but the guest count exceeded this limit and we were comfortably able to serve to about 950 guests, and we even packed the leftover food for about 50pax and gave to the client. So it all depends on the skills of the caterer on how they serve the food and how they manage the situation.
In order to avoid such incidents: You’ll know about the eating habits of your guests, based on that you have to order from the catering company, aside to this You can specifically intimate the Caterer about the previous incident so that nothing such is repeated at the current function. This will caution the caterer and they’ll ensure the food is sufficient enough for all the guests.
Now coming back to Elite Caterers, though we are based in Hyderabad, we do offer our catering services Pan India. and a couple of orders outside Hyderabad.