How to choose a wedding caterer

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written by Maree
Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Are you wondering how to choose a wedding caterer? Many venues offer catering packages which keeps things fairly simple. Sometimes the venue doesn’t have an in-house caterer or allows other caterers if you like. There are lots of catering companies offering top-quality food at reasonable prices. But what do you look for if you need to find a caterer for your reception at a particular venue? Let’s assume you have your venue and you know what is included in the hire, how long you have the space for and how many guests you can fit in…

1. Budget

While planning for your reception, keep the budget in mind. It is a once in a lifetime event, so you want to make it extra special for yourselves and your guests and you will want it to be memorable for everyone, without spending a fortune. 

Your wedding caterer should offer good value for money. The food served must be reasonably priced without compromising on the quality of the ingredients used, the presentation or the service. Alter the menu if you need to, so the dinner is well within your budget. Don’t be afraid to talk to the companies to see the best deal they can give you – it can’t hurt to ask. Ideally, you should have a clear idea of the number of guests and your theme or approach and you should start with a budget. See what the wedding caterer can best offer for that budget.

Some things to consider while budgeting:

  • Are you providing a meal for the photographer, the DJ, a band or anyone else? Add them to your numbers … don’t forget to check where will they be served their meals.
  • Does the caterer have a minimum number of guests? Anything less than that minimum may attract some form of surcharge.
  • Find out the cost per head
  • Make sure you know what is included in the price: food, drinks, equipment, service, and clean-up?
  • Are there any additional charges for cake cutting, corkage, or for specific circumstances such as a longer clean up time than planned.
  • Are they providing table decorations, and decorations for a buffet or food station? If not, do they have regular partners they use or can recommend?
  • Do they provide crockery and glassware? Do they have choices, and if so, what are the prices?

Additionally, ensure you understand your contract, particularly for cancellation clauses and any ‘hidden’ responsibilities you might have picked up.

2. Great Food

You want the food at your wedding reception to be top-notch and even outright memorable for you and your guests.  If you can, taste the food at your short-listed wedding caterers before deciding on the right company for your reception. Keep in mind your guest profile and background before choosing your dishes because you don’t want them to leave your reception hungry!

Things to consider when it comes to the menu:

  • Don’t be tempted to provide too many options – it can be overwhelming for guests, and more expensive
  • Check to see if the caterer can provide the wedding cake, if they can you can think about their options. Bear in mind that you will need to check that they don’t mind if you use a different provider if you already found a baker you like.
  • If you have particular values about food discuss these with the caterer – if you are committed to free range and organic products you want to be confident that they can provide appropriate options.
  • Don’t forget to check on the caterer’s capacity to work with dietary requirements or special requirements for children, if necessary.

3. Reputation

Ensure that the wedding caterer has a good reputation.  You could talk to your friends and family members to see if they can recommend someone, and start from there. However, be open to established and new companies. You could be the stepping stone for these companies to establish a mark for themselves. Just ensure that there is no compromise on the food quality, and always take a sample before deciding.

If you have not information, other than you like them and they had a nice website, ask for three references from your two finalists. Don’t be afraid to ask for a reference from someone who experienced a problem, you want to know what their attitude is to finding a solution.

4. Communication and collaboration

Your wedding caterer should be focused on understanding your ideas, your needs and the type of wedding you want. If your wedding caterer is more interested in telling you what you should be doing, and less interested in listening, try another one.

Is their paperwork clear and easy to understand? Make sure that you confirm your conversations in writing, and that you understand everything before you sign up.

Will your caterer need to work with someone else? You might have someone else involved in organising your wedding, they may need to work around a photographer or work with a venue they haven’t been in before. You will want to be confident that the communication channels are open and that the parties will be able to collaborate. No one wants to be sorting out disagreements or working things out at the last moment because ‘someone else was doing that’.

5. Comparison

Last tip, don’t be afraid to compare caterers – just make sure you are comparing them on specifics.


Wedding receptions are special events, and you want everything to go well on that day. Since food is an essential part of any festivity, you want it to be just perfect for you and your guests, so finding the right wedding caterer for you and your style of event is key to success.


Maree catering and baking Brisbane


Maree is the Baker-in-Chief at Busy Bake and has been creating high-quality, homestyle catering since 2003. Maree's delicious and fresh food saves you the time and stress of catering for your next event. Her tasty sweets and savouries are created from the finest ingredients, made from fresh produce and prepared with traditional home-style methods. Maree's second in charge is Spitz, her dog, followed closely by her husband.

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