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Emily summer studios | 406.871.2199 | emilysummerstudios@gmail.com | Missoula, Montana

Tips to Choosing Your Caterer

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Planning a wedding means creating not only a great memory for you and your new hubby (or wifey), but also an experience that your guests will love and enjoy. A large part of this experience is the food, so selecting your caterer for your wedding can be a daunting task. There are a lot of things to decide before even beginning to speak to caterers such as: Will you be having a buffet or plated dinner service? Do you have a theme or Is there a specific region in the world you would like your food to be from?

The number of questions you should be asking yourself, as well as potential caterers can be overwhelming and many people don't even know where to start when it comes to choosing a caterer. I have developed some tips to help you nail your catering vision and hopefully help you find a caterer that will fit your needs.

Before you even meet with caterers, take some time to sit down and talk to your significant other about your vision and your expectations and desires for your wedding food. Think about the type of food you want to have as well as how you want it to be served. Additional things to discuss before talking to caterers include:

  • YOUR BUDGET. Budget is the key factor when making many of your wedding planning decisions, so be very familiar with it and then amount you can allot in each category. Catering costs comprise a large amount of the overall budget, so it is important to know exactly what you can afford.

  • GET RECOMMENDATIONS. Ask your venue who they recommend for caterers. They know who is familiar with the space and it’s amenities, their reputation and what it’s like to work with them. Also ask friends or family members who have gotten married about their experience with their caterers. Wedding catering is about so much more than just the quality of food they prepare. You want someone who is invested in your special day and understands your vision, as well as communicates well with you from start to finish.

  • DECIDE YOUR DINNER VIBE. Will you have a formal seated dinner, or a more causal atmosphere? Would you like a buffet or plated service? Are you looking for dinner service only, or would you like appetizers included as well? Are there particular dishes you have in mind to serve? These are all questions you should have answered before meeting with caterers.

  • KNOW YOUR HEADCOUNT. Most caterers charge per head, so having an accurate headcount will ensure your estimate is accurate when it comes to calculating your total catering cost.

  • READ REVIEWS. Reviews can be huge when narrowing down your catering search. Not only can you read opinions on the quality of food, but also what their professionalism, presentation, and communication is like before you get in too deep.

Once you've answered these questions amongst yourselves, you can start actually speaking with caterers and arrange for tastings with your top choices. Now, typically tastings are included after you’ve signed a contract with the caterer, but you want to make sure you have tried their food before signing on the dotted line. See if there are any bridal expos they are participating in where you can taste a few of their options. You can also see if they offer mini tastings to potential clients. This will likely cost a small fee, but it is worth it to have a chance to try a few options from their catering menu. Often in larger cities, restaurants will host free or low cost dinners for potential clients.


1. Do you need onsite facilities such as oven, range, sink, fridge etc?

2. What are the extra charges included - deposit, taxes, services fees etc?

3. Is your food prepared the day-of my event?

4. Do you offer buffet or plated services?

5. Am I allowed to make changes to the menu and services after signing a contract?

For a full list of the 25 Questions you should ask your wedding caterer, download the free PDF!

Check out the Wedding Planning ebook where you will find dozens of more resources just like this one!

Emily Summer



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