Before you hire a catering company to work your event, it can be helpful to have a list of thoughts to review when finding your “perfect palate.”  Check out these 10 things to consider when hiring a wedding caterer from the fabulous event professionals over at Vibrant Occasions Catering!

10 Things to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Caterer
  1. Availability: Begin the conversation with a caterer by asking if they are available for your date and time of service.  It is helpful to place the date of your wedding in the subject line of any email correspondence moving forward along with each spouse’s last name and venue name to keep things organized.  Note the range of expected guests and understand that staffing for a 300-guest wedding will require more employees and food than a 200-guest wedding.  For this reason, it is best to be as precise as possible when speaking to your caterer about guest count range, even if it’s only a “best guess” at the moment.
  1. Budget: For most weddings, the catering portion of the budget will be the largest expense. This is very important when it comes to getting what you want in terms of food, service, and ambiance. Different companies have different options of services from serving to dishwashing to bussing tables to bar service. Be sure to choose a company that will be able to fit your wants as well as your pocketbook.  
  1. Research: Most caterers will have reviews online you can read, so that’s a great place to start your more in-depth research.  Remember that even excellent service providers may have a few negative reviews.  Check out how the provider responds to negative reviews and decide what feels diplomatic to you.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their work and review their photos on social media to get a visual of the type of work they do. It’s never a problem to ask your caterer for a reference, as well, especially for newer catering companies that do not have many reviews or photos yet. Make sure to do your homework, and you will be ready for when you jump on an initial consultation call with them. 
  1. Staffing: A caterer may have more or fewer services than others. Some caterers only offer food service.  In this instance,  you would be responsible for coordinating bussing, washing or scraping dishes, putting dishes back in crates, packing up food, taking out trash and cleaning the kitchen. It is important to understand that a full-service event caterer provides many benefits and tasks you can check off your list with this one vendor. Smaller catering companies, restaurants and food trucks sometimes do not provide “full-service,” so be sure to ask and plan accordingly.  If you are planning to offer hors d’oeuvres, make sure your caterer has the ability to execute the level of service you expect.  Passed hors d’oeuvres require more and experienced staffing in addition to serving trays that present well.  Do you want your catering staff to be uniformed, wear all black or do you care at all about what they wear?  If you do care, ask.
  1. Non-alcoholic drink service:  If you have hired a bartender to serve alcoholic beverages, ask them ahead of time if they will simultaneously serve non-alcoholic beverages at the bar.  This may require adding a bartender.  Be sure to provide them with the proper containers for service, such as pitchers.  Many couples opt for self-serve tea and water stations, so be sure to include one table on your floor plan for this.  Also, talk to your catering and bartending team about pre-setting drinking glasses and who is responsible for that.  This goes for the entire place settings, too.  Speak ahead of time about whose responsibility it is to pre-set all dinnerware.
  1. Bartenders: If you are planning to serve alcoholic beverages, a bartender is a must-have for a wedding.  Often for legality and/or insurance reasons, but you can also be pretty sure your venue will require it, too.  Regardless of the red tape, the best reason to have a bartender is to ensure that a professional is in control of how much alcoholic beverages are being served.  Bartenders know how to handle guests who may need to slow down for safety purposes.  A bartender is adept at portion control, crowd pleasing, sanitary practices and mixology.  Confirm up front if you will be needing them to bring things such as cups, cocktail napkins, champagne flutes, wine glasses, ice, mixers, the alcoholic inventory itself, pitchers, garnishes and ice chests.  If your venue does not have a bar, always provide two rectangle tables at minimum for a bar front to serve from and a bar back where items for the bar are stored and accessed behind the bar.
  1. Kitchen: Consider if your catering company will need a kitchen available at your venue or not. Some companies may have their own equipment and kitchen where the food is cooked then later transported to the venue. Since many foods need to be made on site such as pizza, steak, and seafood, it is necessary to double check this before choosing your catering company. If your venue will not allow your catering company to utilize their kitchen for cooking some foods where it is necessary, you may need to find a caterer with a mobile kitchen.
  1. Catering style: Buffet, plated dinner, and wandering hors d’oeuvre are all styles to consider. Do you want people waiting in line at a buffet and mingling? Do you want to pre-plate and serve? Bite-sized snacks that won’t have a big impact when it comes to needing space for the dance floor? It’s important to know what you want so you can convey that to your catering company. Action stations are a great way to keep your guests entertained while they are waiting for their food. They are essentially the hibachi of catering, made up of different stations where chefs will cook in front of guests. Oftentimes, the kinds of catering companies that offer this option will choose very unique menu items, such as Mexican street corn, beef bourguignon carving stations, and even stir fry.
  1. Rental and disposable dinnerware: The choices for dinnerware is to either rent real crockery or buy disposable products.  Some catering companies will rent your dinnerware to you.  This is a great option as it ensures everything will be taken care of.  Of course, most rental companies have these choices, as well.  There’s also trendy options for disposable dinnerware out there now.  If you choose this option, convey what quantities you are ordering to your caterer.  Or simply ask your catering company to add disposable dinnerware as most offer this as an add-on.
  1.  Cutting the cake: It’s tradition for the bride and groom to cut the first piece of wedding cake together, but not to cut the entire cake and pass it out to guests. That’s more often the job of the catering company. Your catering company should know and be aware of the serving size for the number of guests attending, cutting each piece equally where everyone will be able to have one. It can also be time-consuming and messy, especially when you don’t cut wedding cakes every weekend like they do!

About Chef Serge

Chef Serge Krikorian and his wife, Mary Krikorian, started their catering business in 2002 and have been in the family restaurant business since 1994. Having catered thousands of events over the years as Dinner’s Ready, they launched Vibrant Occasions Catering, a new name that more accurately depicts the level of food and service provided at weddings and social events. Krikorian was born in Lebanon and moved to the United States with his family as a child.  He now hails from the quaint town of Benton, Arkansas. His southern hospitality paired with his penchant for developing unique international fusion-style recipes, especially sauces, has garnered his reputation as foodies’ fan favorite in his community and now on the Youtube space for his cooking show, Cooking with the Kriks

After years of dreaming about owning a mobile kitchen, in December 2020, Serge and Mary launched Our Mobile Kitchen with the intention of providing fresh, 5-star quality chef-prepared cuisine to patrons visiting where the mobile kitchen is parked or on site for catered weddings and social, private or corporate events.  Krikorian is an alumnus of Henderson State University where he studied business earning his Bachelor’s Degree and met his wife, Mary. He earned his MBA from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.  Serge became a restaurant entrepreneur when he purchased an old, run-down pizza parlor he and Mary revived and called Sergio’s Pizza.  After a few years, they knew the restaurant business was not for them.  Mary booked their first official catering gig, much to Serge’s surprise. They began receiving more and more requests for catering luncheons and events. The catering business took over after six months and they never looked back.  They have three sons who often work in the business around their academic and career schedules, making their enterprise a family-built business.

Vibrant Occasions | Instagram | Facebook | The WBB | Website | Email

Photo provided by Sydney Rasch

PR by Meredith Corning PR

Wedding Advice

10 Things to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Caterer

10 Things to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Caterer

Wedding Advice