Catering on a Dime: 8 Quick Tips on How To Hire A Rockstar Caterer On A Modest Budget

Dear Nola,

My best friend is getting married next year and as her maid of honor I've been enlisted in helping her find a food caterer. Can you please offer a few tips on how to hire a rockstar caterer on a modest budget?

Helpless in New Jersey

Hi Helpless in New Jersey,

Thanks for your question and congrats to your best friend!
When hosting an event, food is an important as the guests attending.

Here are some tips on how to hire a caterer on even the most modest budget:

1. Choose A Caterer With A Customized Approach - Always choose people who are personable and flexible. Tell your caterer how you envision your event, along with your budget and preferences. It's important for a caterer to understanding of a client's personal needs and be able adjust compassionately and accordingly.

2. Availability - A caterer should be accessible. There's nothing more frustrating than working with someone you can never find to discuss important event/food matters. Be sure to ask your caterer of their hours and availability prior to hiring them. Propose some worst case scenarios and ask for solutions to potential problems. Make sure your caterer is prepared to assist you in creating a successful event.

3. Passion is the mother of great work - Work with caterers who love what they do. A reluctant caterer will most likely not go above and beyond to satisfy the needs of their clients. Ask who else they have worked with, visit their website, and check for reviews. The best way to gain a sense of what to expect is to read about the experiences of others.

4. Experience is the best teacher - Find out what kind of exposure your caterer has had with food. Ask what types of foods they are familiar with preparing, and request a tasting. Similar to restaurants, most caterers have a signature dish. Find out what your caterer does best and consider adding that to your menu.

5. Referrals - Check within your circle to find caterers your friends have used. They may be able to refer you to not only a company you can afford, but one you can trust to do a great job at making your event a success.

6. Find Caterers Who Have Partnership - Some caterers work directly with venues which can offset the cost of hosting your event. Ask your caterer if they have partnerships with venues and find out how much you can save by using partner venues.

7. Learn The Language - Most caterers will offer the option for “buffet” or “sit down” style serving. Buffest style allows guests to approach a food display to fill their plates whereas sit down style allows the caterer to place portions on a plate which is placed before each guest at the dinner table. Some catering companies offer waiters to server food at the buffet; however, you may also order the food and allow guests to serve portions as they wish. Determine which option is best for you and ask your caterer if they are capable of accommodating your needs.

8. Book Events In Bulk - If you’re planning to host several events within a specific time frame, it may be a good idea to let your caterer know in advance. Ask your caterer if you can sign a contract securing their services over a determined span of time for a discounted rate. You may save more if you book ahead.

Hosting an event doesn’t have to be hard. Hiring a great catering company is the first step in hosting an event that will keep attendees raving of its success. Have more questions? Interested in booking a caterer? Contact me. I’m happy to help!