With engagement season upon us, we reached out to the best event and wedding planners in Utah to see what tips they had to make the catering at your big day the best it can be! Follow our 9 week series and see what they all had to say!
Mara Marian is the owner of Fuse Weddings and Events, a boutique wedding planning and design studio specializing in destination Park City and Deer Valley weddings. With over a decade of experience in our local market, Mara boasts numerous industry awards, wedding magazine features and serves as the current Vice President of the WIPA Utah Chapter.
Be sure to research your venue and confirm whether they have an in-house option you’re required to use, or if they allow outside caterers.
Be sure to also note that oftentimes, if they do allow an outside caterer, it’s from a preferred list. Although a preferred list can seem restrictive at first, think of it this way: the venue has essentially taken all the necessary research off your plate. Their list is packed with pros who are familiar with the venue and will be versed in the unique challenges of working there as well as having a proven track record of making the venue’s clients happy - if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be on the list.
Have a budget in mind, and don’t be afraid to share it.
There’s a common misconception in weddings that if you share actual budget, creative partners will exceed it. This leads to many clients mistakenly giving a lower budget than what they actually have to work with. This creates a lot of unnecessary wheel-spinning that could be avoided with an honest conversation. Sharing your honest budget allows the caterer to show you what they can do with your budget. If your caterer tells you something isn’t possible within a given budget, believe them. A caterer who isn’t afraid to say no will help you avoid potential disasters and disappointment later.
Listen to your caterer’s recommendations, and ask what their shining star options are.
If you’re working with a caterer to plan a polished but casual welcome BBQ, you’re going to want to select someone who’s versed with BBQ and has served such a menu many times. Asking a caterer to really step out of their wheelhouse is certainly possible, but it may not result in their best work.
Realize you can’t please everyone, and design a menu reflective of you and your partner.
That being said, don’t impose your dietary restrictions on others. Any reputable caterer can handle gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan and other requests, but that doesn’t mean your entire wedding should be subjected to it. You can work with your caterer to plan a menu that honors your dietary restrictions and preferences while also being mindful of the many others attending the event.
Schedule a tasting, and if possible, have it in season.
Another common wedding misconception is the purpose of a tasting. Many clients imagine that a tasting is an opportunity to try the food, to determine if the caterer is the right fit. Although there is some truth here, assuming you’ve done the research and are working with the right caterer, the tasting is really about fine-tuning the menu you’ve selected on paper: do you prefer a chutney to a pesto, are the garnishes what you imagined, would you rather serve risotto or quinoa alongside the main - these are all things you can easily determine during your tasting. Having the tasting in season allows your caterer to present the most accurate version of the menu possible. For instance, trying your watermelon feta salad in March could be underwhelming here in Utah.
Don't forget to check in next week to see more tips!