Tips for Choosing your Caterer

caterer2Hosting any event, large or small, can be downright daunting, especially for the novice party planner.  There are so many things to consider:  food, entertainment, alcohol, number of attendees, etc.  You want the party to reflect your personal style, but at the same time, not cost an arm and a leg.  So, you decide to hire a caterer to help with the process, but where to start?  There are a variety of caterers, all with their own specialties, quality levels, and price points.  Which one should you choose?

The first step in the hiring process is research.  Ask any caterer – word of mouth is their primary source of advertising.  So, ask your friends, family, or coworkers if they have used a caterer, and what their experience was like.  The internet is also a great search tool where you’ll find reviews, sample menus, and many times a client list.  More times than not, you can be sure a venue approved caterer has been qualified and meet certain expectations, so call a few venues and ask for their approved list of caterers.  Remember, the way an event appears to guests is just one part of the process.  It’s important that the entire process is enjoyable from the host’s perspective, too.

Different caterers have different styles, so choose one you feel comfortable with and make sure you understand his or her specialties.  There are generally three types of caterers: luncheon caterers, who provide simple food with a limited selection, gourmet caterers, who have a most vast knowledge of foods and tend to be more creative, and full service caterers, who cover all aspects of an event from decor to service.  By understanding the caterer’s limitations, it will ensure a higher chance of success and will avoid any unmet expectations.

The next step when looking for a caterer, is to call and set up interviews.  Once you’ve narrowed your search based on interviews, you can attempt to set up a tasting.  More often than not, a tasting is only offered after a party has been booked.  Either way, make sure to go over the menu so you know what kinds of food your caterer will be preparing.

Choosing the right caterer is the key to a successful event.  If you do your homework, you’ll vastly improve your chances of finding the perfect caterer and having the perfect event.