Catering. Every event has some in some form or another. What do you want for your day?
There are many different types of service out there - yes, I said service not food. Catering a wedding, of course needs good food, but more importantly good service. So you really need to ask, before you even get menus or taste, what type of services they offer. Believe me, not all catering is the same. I once worked a wedding where the caterer they hired told me that they didn't to any service, they only provided the food and set it up. Well, since that wasn't what the couple had been planning on, there was a last minute scramble to find someone who would. So know what you want. Maybe to save money you're willing and able to set up tables and chairs the day before. Maybe you have family who is willing to serve a buffet. Maybe you'd like your guests to be treated to an amazing meal with 5 star service. Once you know this, ask for it. Find out what they wear to the event. Its pretty bad to have an elegant reception, where the service staff is wearing mismatched black tee shirts.
So here is what you might find:
- Full service catering - They can take care of all aspects of your menu, bar, and any rentals needed. They will arrive early enough to set up tables and chairs, and stay afterward to clean and mop up after the event (I've seen plenty of bride's maids moping in their long gowns because they find out at the end of the night that the caterer doesn't do that).
- Some service catering - This is what I call those companies that claim they are full service, but won't touch any of your items (favors/flowers/table numbers); don't want to set up your tables and chairs; put out tip jars when working the bar; and won't break everything down at the end of the night (but somehow missed filling you in on this). I once had a 'catering manager' tell me that no caterer ever folds napkins! OMG!!?
- Buffet service - this is what I call a company that shows up with hot boxes of food (who knows how long its been sitting there before you finally get to eat it!), set up their buffet tables, put the food out, stand back as you and your guests serve themselves, immediately break it down (don't try to come back for seconds!), and then pack up and leave while you're in the middle of toasts.
- No service - these are companies, often delis and such, that will bring you food, and maybe set it up for you, but then leave you to be on your own.
None of these types of catering services are wrong, if they're right for you and your budget. Some people have only ever seen it done one way, so that is their normal. What's yours?