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  • Staci C. Franklin

Choosing the Right Caterer For Your Special Event

When budgeting for your event. You’ll quickly find that food is going to be the most expensive line item in your event budget. Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you are selecting your caterer.

Start early. If you’re planning a wedding, you’ll want to start the process for hiring a caterer approximately 10-12 months out from your wedding date. When you begin this far in advance, you’ll have a better chance at securing your first choice caterer.

Get referrals. Talk to friends, family members, recent brides, wedding planners and other wedding and event professionals. These individuals will give you their honest opinions and if the same caterers consistently have positive reviews, you’ll probably want to learn more about their services. The same is true for those who continuously get negative reviews – that will be a red flag to stay away from them.

Know what types of food the caterer is known for preparing. For example, if you want a southern soul/comfort food menu, you probably want to get someone who is known for their skills at preparing those types of meals versus someone whose specialty is Asian cuisine.

Be up front about your budget. When you schedule a consultation with the caterer, it’s important to let them know on the front end just how much you are willing to spend. Based on that amount, they can determine what type of menu might fit within your budget. It doesn’t make sense to waste your time and theirs if you can’t afford the type of catering service they provide.

Verify licensure. You’ll want to make sure that the caterer is state licensed and that they carry liability insurance. The last thing that you want is for any of your guests to get sick from the food that was served at your wedding and you want to protect yourself from being sued.

Schedule a tasting. Once you have determined a proposed menu, you’ll want to schedule some time to do a tasting to make sure the items that you have selected meet your expectations. Some caterers may charge a fee for a private tasting and that fee may be taken off your final bill, if you end up selecting them.

Double check the details. You’ll want to make sure that your contract has all of the specifics such as date, time, location, type of food service, bar service, deposit, taxes, fees, payment schedule, overtime fees, cancellation policy, etc. These items may not seem major but it can turn into a huge deal if one of these items falls through the cracks because you forgot to ask about it and/or include them in your contract.

Choosing the right caterer for your event can run smoothly if you take the time to do your research and ask the right questions.

Staci C. Franklin is the owner and lead event planner for It’s Your Day! Weddings & Special Events located in Memphis, Tennessee. For more information, visit

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