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How to Get Great Wedding Catering on a Budget

Wedding catering in PittsburghYou’ve got the date set, the reception venue has been booked, your next step would be to find a great wedding caterer in Pittsburgh. You and your fiance should discuss a few things before you start your search.

The wedding food will probably take the biggest bite out of your budget, so you will need a realistic idea of what you both feel is affordable. Do you have a theme? What type of reception are you planning? Will it be a formal sit-down dinner, or a more casual buffet or family style event? Perhaps just champagne or punch and appetizers will fill the bill. Sometimes it is easier to agree on what you don’t want, that way you’ll both be open to suggestions.

Start your search for a good wedding caterer at least nine months prior to your wedding. Ask for recommendations from friends, surf the web, and visit your local Bridal Show. Many caterers offer samples at these shows, so you will have an idea of what each is like. Did all the items at one venue taste the same, or was each item uniquely different? How was the presentation? Did it knock your socks off? Was it colorful or boring? Did any of these caterers have a certain specialty that you really liked? How did their prices compare? Do some comparison shopping, and while you are there, set up appointments with a few of them to meet with them personally to do a “taste test” that includes both you and your fiance.

Questions for Potential Wedding Caterers

Will they be providing the linens, china, table decorations, chairs, etc? If so, ask to see a sample place setting of the china they will be using. Request to see any special décor they use which will compliment your reception. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, this is your very special day, one that you and your guests will remember forever. Guests may not remember who caught the bouquet, or that little Ronny was the ring bearer, but they will remember having “great” food! On the other hand, they will also remember having “not so great” food! Yikes!

  • How long have you been in business?
  • May we see your State License, proof of insurance, liquor license?
  • Are you affiliated with any professional groups, or societies? (Those ‘top-of-the-line’ caterers continue to strive for perfection and are always seeking new ideas.)
  • May we have a list of references we can contact? (Please do contact them!)
  • Are you familiar with our reception site? Will there be enough space for you?
  • Do you have any other events that day? Who will be the person in charge?
  • Will we be paying for a set minimum number of meals, no matter how many guests attend?
  • How many extra guests are you prepared to serve if we go over the head count?
  • Do you offer alternative selections for vegetarians, diabetics, etc?
  • May we bring the alcoholic beverages? Will there be extra corking fee/service charge? Can we hire our own bartender? (These things will save you money.)
  • May we hire a chocolate fountain company, having you provide the dipping items and if so, how do you determine your dipping item charges?
  • What do you charge to cut and serve the wedding cake?
  • When will you need a final decision on the menu, and final head count?
  • How much deposit do you require? When is the balance due? In what form is payment accepted; check, credit card, cash?
  • Are taxes and gratuities included in your quote?

Have the caterer prepare an itemized quote for you, and make some notes of your own, as well. Make sure you interview several caterers before making your final selection, and have some tasty fun at the same time!


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