How to Find a Wedding Caterer for Your Reception

Our tip tops that will guarantee you get the finest food for your fete.
Wedding catering cocktails
Photo by Brian Dorsey Studios

It's time to roll up your sleeves and focus on finding a caterer who can cook up the feast of your dreams. Tackle this major to-do as soon as possible; the best caterers can be booked up to a year in advance. Here are how-tos:

Finding

  • Ask recently married friends for referrals.
  • Check The Knot Local Wedding Resources.
  • Hotels, country clubs, and large special-event facilities will probably have in-house caterers. If not, they will certainly have preferred-caterers lists.
  • Ask your favorite restaurant to cater the affair. If they don't do weddings, confident establishments will point you towards a trustworthy joint that does.
  • The photographers, florists, videographers, and bridal salon owners you're speaking with will likely keep a list of reputable caterers they've heard of through the industry grapevine or know personally.
  • Visit the website of a reputable professional organization, like the International Caterers Association or the National Association of Catering Executives. They can refer you to catering pros in your area.

Making Appointments

  • When you call to make appointments, try to schedule tastings as part of the interviews.
  • Before you leave, don't just take a business card -- ask each caterer to draw up a rough outline including the cost per person; menu options; exactly what the fee includes (alcohol, rentals, tips, etc.); service and presentation style; and less-expensive alternatives.
  • Check references. Find out: a) Number of guests they had, the venue, and menu items b) Was the meal tasty, well presented, and served hot? c) How was the service and table-clearing? and d) Were there any surprises on the final menu or final bill?
  • Be sure to get the 411 on a particular catering firm through the Better Business Bureau before you make any moves to hire them.