So the ceremony is over and now it’s time for the big party. You, your new husband/wife, family and friends are ready to enjoy your wedding reception.

Will you be confident that all will go as you hope and want it to? If you’ve made some good informed decisions and have the right people around you then things should be just fine.

This means picking out the right experts to help you in the first place.

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Does your venue have its own wedding caterer?

Possibly one of the most important decisions you make when picking your team is deciding on a caterer. Quite often, when you choose a venue, you have to use their chosen or in-house caterer. So our advice would be, before you sign on the dotted line, make sure that the wedding caterer is going to be suitable for your purpose.

Ask to see a selection of menus. Do you think the food looks interesting and appetising? Does it cater for vegetarian diets? Is there some imagination in the way the dishes are put together?

Ask for some testimonials from previous brides and grooms. Were they happy? It’s really important that you feel confident about the caterers provided by a venue and if you’re not (but you have to use them) then you really might have to rethink using that particular venue.

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Here are our tips for choosing a good wedding caterer and knowing that you’ve got the right one for you.

Things to make sure your wedding caterer knows

1. Using seasonal produce and seasonal menus. Make sure that your caterer uses local and in season produce whenever possible. Why? Because food tastes better when it’s in season and if you buy local, you’re going to get better quality and less expensive food. So that means no strawberries or raspberries out of season. Do you really want to eat strawberries at Christmas? Keep those delicious berries for the summer months. A good caterer will know what are the best options are at different times of year and come up with different menus for you. Ask for a tasting menu. Be wary of a caterer that can’t provide one. And make sure you discover how much you will be charged for it.

2. A good understanding of allergies. Serving shellfish at a wedding is a real no-no.  A lot of people can’t eat mussels, prawns, lobster and the like without suffering an allergic reaction and shellfish can also give severe food poisoning. Other allergies to look out for include nuts, dairy and gluten. Check that your caterer is aware of all this and can offer different options.

3. The wedding cake. Will your caterers be providing the wedding cake or will you? Be prepared for the caterer to charge a cake cutting fee if they are not the ones producing the wedding cake. Make sure you ask about this beforehand so you don’t have any expensive last-minute surprises.

4. How long you expect your wedding to last. If you’re having dancing going on until the small hours, then you need to tell your caterers that as they will need to provide waiting staff until that time. Be aware that if you’re having a late do, there may well be excess charges after midnight.

5. What your final guest numbers are and any special dietary requirements. Ask your caterer the latest they need to know final guest numbers so you can allow for last-minute drop outs (it does happen).

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6. What sort of alcohol is being served? Do you want a choice of red or white wines? Do you want your caterer to offer cocktails? It’s worth seeing if they can provide cocktails as they can be fun to serve when guests are arriving.