As Directors of a catering company we have supplied hundreds of weddings and we’ve attended quite a few as well, in fact once or twice we’ve even supplied and attended the same wedding. In our experience, one thing that is universally apparent is that very few people realise just how much the caterer actually does.
I don’t think anyone really believes that we simply turn up, serve the food and then leave, but there is always a sense of surprise when we meet with couples and they see how much is already taken care of as part of the catering package. The question is: what is standard and what is going the extra mile?
Let’s start with the basics, you must offer a tasting. Different caterers will have different policies on this but we do NOT charge for tastings, why would you charge for the opportunity to showcase the one thing that you are supposed to be good at?
Following the tasting there are several responsibilities that we take on as the caterer and that includes, but is in no way limited to:
- Conducting a venue site visit to visualise the day and determine the layout, timings, colour schemes etc.
- Being in frequent contact with the bride/groom to iron out details
- Offering support and advice at all stages of planning (not necessarily limited to food and beverage)
- Giving clear instructions about what is required from the couple (guest list, table plan, dietary requirements etc.)
- Where possible, making sure the original point of contact (catering manager) is present at all stages, including the day itself. If not, handing it over as early as possible to the manager that will be there
- Informing the overall timetable based on our knowledge of how long things take (again not just limited to food and beverage service)
- Liaising with Ushers/Best men on the day and making sure everything stays on schedule (all activities affect the catering, including delays in photographs, speeches etc. so we must make sure the day stays on track)
- Serving amazing food, seamlessly, on time and with a smile
- Being there until the last guest has left the building, then clearing the venue and leaving it as we found it
Now that’s just the basics and we certainly wouldn’t say that the responsibilities of the caterer are limited to those seven bullet points, but when you are already doing all of those things, how do you go the extra mile? The key thing from our point of view is to be flexible. Many couples will see their wedding as their Sistine Chapel, they are painting their masterpiece and they want to be in charge of the brush strokes, and rightly so. Now that might mean that they want a sharing menu instead of a plated three course, or it might mean they want to create an afternoon tea room, dress the chefs up in bakers hats and cover them in flour for the evening to serve the desserts. To go the extra mile is to say ‘yes’ to as many of these things as possible. That’s what makes a wedding special and that’s how you make couples feel like they’re Michelangelo. Yes it’s easier from a business and logistical perspective to stick to the three course set menu blueprint. However, it’s way better if you say ‘yes!’ when a bride asks for her wedding breakfast to be a feast of themed food stalls from around the globe, or when the couple want you to recreate the menu from the restaurant where they had their first date. Yes this means that you will have to work a bit harder, but it also means that you will make special memories for your customers, which is exactly why we started doing this in the first place.