I am a "food person". When you come from an Italian background you are born into it. I believe that good food can make any occasion successful. So if you find that food is not your forte, work with someone who has a passion for food, a close friend, relative or a wedding planner/consultant. Put that person in charge of helping with all aspects of the food, including choosing and working with the caterer.
When choosing someone to put in charge of catering, a critical personalty requirement is good communication skills. A good Food Communicator will be able to make any occasion special regardless of budget.
As soon as the wedding date is set you should have a budget figured out. A realistic amount of approximately no less than 1/5 of the total budget for food should be a comfortable estimate. Remember this is the hospitality you show your guests, many who have come a long way, bearing gifts. It is wise to keep in mind that people are usually hungry after a day of travel so coordinate your reception if not immediately following to start shortly after the ceremony.
Here are some helpful advice tips to guide your Food Communicator to know exactly what your expectations are for your wedding day plans:
Step One: Figure out what type of wedding you want to have. Late Spring, Summer, and Early Fall can give you alternative outdoor wedding plans as opposed to winter indoor plans. Whether you are planning an outdoor wedding barbecue, or chestnuts roasting over an open fire or booking a facility that accommodates both food and sleeping accommodations. Your food communicator should be able to work out any situation to adapt food to venue.
Step Two: Determine who should be the Food Communicator. Someone who loves food or cooking and is well organized. You might feel in the early stages of planning that you will be able to handle the catering details. But, as time gets closer to the date you will be glad that you have one less thing to think about, especially if you are juggling a job and other important details of your wedding plans. Choosing someone at the beginning stages of planning will make your communication understanding much stronger with less margin for error.
Step Three: Brainstorm and Incorporate. First meeting on the agenda should be with you and your Food Communicator. Your communicator should know the types of food you like and dislike. Discuss successful menus that you have experienced and might work for your type of wedding. Your Food Communicator may have a selection of caterers that he or she has worked with and knows signature dishes and budget estimates to help make your decisions easier. If your budget calls for home cooking make sure to have your Food Communicator work closely with friends and family chef's. Remember your Food Communicator should know your expectations and have open communication with you from the beginning.
Step Four: Interview a caterer or coordinate family/friends. If you interviewing a caterer make sure you know exactly what is being provided for you. Will the caterer supply the linens, staff, coffee set/up and beverages? The caterer should be able to offer you sample menu's, food and references.
If you are having home cooking make sure your chef's know quantity and are comfortable cooking for large crowds.
Step Five: Determine your menu early. Picking the menu will give you the cost factor which may bring you back to the drawing board. This is very common and important. Reviewing and customizing your menu in the beginning will make less tension near the end. Once your menu is in place do not keep changing or adding things on. This can cause you to lose sight of your budget and go overboard.
Step Six: COMMUNICATION! The bride has the responsibility of communication as well as the Food Communicator. You need to stay in touch with the food communicator on every level of the catering. The closer the date the more review will be needed with the Food Communicator, Caterer, or Chefs. Being in touch with all will provide you with knowledge of anything that might have been missed.
Step Seven: COMMUNICATION TOOLS! Faxes and emails are good communication tools, for menu, pricing and budget determination. If you are using these tools it is always advisable to leave a voice mail letting the person know that you have sent them an important message. Always keep a copy of any messages sent or received. The Food Communicator may have a copy of all e-mail's sent to the bride so that she will be apprized of all information pertaining to the catering.
Step Eight: It's getting close. This is the time when the Food Communicator will be in close contact with the caterer and bride. Go over all menu revisions and make sure everyone is on the same page (Bride/Groom, food communicator, caterer, & staff). Checklist should include making sure all special order items have been ordered. Provide final guest count. Last but not least schedule a Thank you lunch after the honeymoon for the food communicator, family/friend chefs or any special person who contributed time and effort to the success of your special day.
About the Expert: Fran Koltun is the owner of Cordially Yours, a full service wedding coordinator and party planner dedicated to providing clients with exceptional service no matter how big or small the event.