It's time to roll up your sleeves and focus on finding a caterer who can cook up the feast of your dreams. Tackle this major to-do as soon as possible; the best caterers can be booked up to a year in advance. Here are how-tos:
- Ask recently married friends for referrals.
- Check The Knot Local Wedding Resources.
- Hotels, country clubs, and large special-event facilities will probably have in-house caterers. If not, they will certainly have preferred-caterers lists.
- Ask your favorite restaurant to cater the affair. If they don't do weddings, confident establishments will point you towards a trustworthy joint that does.
- The photographers, florists, videographers, and bridal salon owners you're speaking with will likely keep a list of reputable caterers they've heard of through the industry grapevine or know personally.
- Visit the website of a reputable professional organization, like the International Caterers Association or the National Association of Catering Executives. They can refer you to catering pros in your area.
- When you call to make appointments, try to schedule tastings as part of the interviews.
- Before you leave, don't just take a business card -- ask each caterer to draw up a rough outline including the cost per person; menu options; exactly what the fee includes (alcohol, rentals, tips, etc.); service and presentation style; and less-expensive alternatives.
- Check references. Find out: a) Number of guests they had, the venue, and menu items b) Was the meal tasty, well presented, and served hot? c) How was the service and table-clearing? and d) Were there any surprises on the final menu or final bill?
- Be sure to get the 411 on a particular catering firm through the Better Business Bureau before you make any moves to hire them.
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