Table Talk What to look for when choosing a wedding caterer


The menu is one of the major decisions in wedding planning: Couples want their guests to enjoy themselves at their celebration, and the food served that day is a big part of it.

“The caterer should be one of the first vendors that couples hire after they secure their venue,” says Sharon Boerner, who, along with Lorin Kotz, owns Celebrations, an event planning business in Owings Mills.

When sitting down with a caterer,  couples should have a rough idea of their budget. “Catering is one of the biggest expenses that you will have for your wedding, therefore it is very important that you pick the caterer that best suits your desires and your budget,” Boerner says.

Once a budget is decided, couples can select the type of food they would like to serve.

An easy way to decipher through endless options is to decide the theme of your reception. Do you want something fun and hip such as a  taco bar, or do you want a formal, sit-down three-course dinner?

“We ask couples if they would prefer a traditional sit-down dinner or dinner stations for a more social experience,” Boerner says.

Something else to consider; any cultural or family traditions that a couple would like to incorporate into the menu, says Larry Frank, vice president of catering for The Classic Catering People in Owings Mills.

Another way to spark food ideas: “It’s your birthday — where are you going out? And what are you ordering?”

Consider what you want from a caterer.

“Some caterers are full service and will go so far as to help you plan your event with a timeline, floor plan, etc.

Others are strictly food and beverage,” says Mary Tawney, senior event design specialist for Copper Kitchen. “[But] depending  on what you need and what your venue offers, you may not need a full-service caterer.”

Talk to other couples or recent wedding attendees. Find out who catered to the wedding that you really enjoyed. “Couples should check reviews not only online, but also from your wedding venue,” says Matt Gold, creative director for Zeffert & Gold Catering.

“The wedding venue sees how each caterer performs and usually has a good idea of cost and style. If you ask specific questions, they are a great resource when looking at caterers.”

As couples pick a menu that represents them and the food they enjoy, they should also remember to include options for guests with food allergies or other dietary needs.

Something else to consider: Potlucks. No kidding, potlucks are on the rise for couples who don’t want to spend a lot on food. Family and friends bring a favorite dish to share as they share in the couple’s new life together.

Sit down, stand up, shared plate: Bon appetit!

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