Every party needs food, so choosing your caterer is important. No matter what event you’re planning, it’s an intimate dinner or a large-scale corporate shindig.

Choosing the right caterer can be the difference between your party being an event that everyone remembers fondly or one that leaves a bit of a bad taste in their mouths (not to mention your own).

Catering can be expensive, but hiring the right caterer for your event can save you tons of time and hassle – not to mention money. Hiring the wrong caterer, on the other hand, can cost you in ways you never imagined and could ruin your entire event. Here are some tips to help you choose the right caterer for your next big event.

Consider Recommendations from Friends and Family

When finding a caterer, one of the best places to start is by asking friends and family members for recommendations. Chances are, they’ve worked with a caterer before and can give you some insight into the experience.

Listen closely to what they say when you ask your friends and family members for caterer recommendations. Get an idea of their overall experience working with a particular caterer and a sense of what went well and what could have been better.

If you’re having trouble getting any recommendations, think about reaching out to people who’ve thrown similar events (such as weddings or birthday parties) in recent years. Chances are they can help you find someone they previously worked with.

Ask Questions

It can be hard to know what questions to ask, but make sure you have a list of them ready before you talk with any caterers. Try asking about their menu options, price ranges and event services. You’ll also want to ask about their cancellation policy and whether they offer liability insurance.

You can also see if they allow you to bring in your beverages or desserts or if there are particular vendors that they work best with. Whether a caterer offers specialty services like bartending will vary from business to business, so it’s important to find out how that works with each option.

You can also ask how they cater to special dietary needs and whether they use organic ingredients. Depending on your audience, some of these questions may not apply to you, but it’s important to know your options and what each caterer offers.

Finding Out More About Their Services

When looking for a caterer, it is important to find their services. Do they provide food, or do they also set up and clean up? It is also important to inquire about their menu options. Do they have a set menu, or can they customize a menu to fit your event?

You should also ask about their pricing. Find out if they charge by the plate or by the event. Make sure you understand their cancellation policy. Some caterers require a certain amount of notice to cancel without being charged a fee. Ask about their staff. Do they have servers who will be attentive to your guests’ needs?

Check Reviews

Checking reviews is one of the most important things you can do when choosing a caterer. Not only will you get an idea of their food and service, but you’ll also get an idea of how they handle customer service.

 If a caterer has a few negative reviews, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad choice. It’s important to look beyond just one or two reviews. Look at how many reviews there are, read some of them, and see if there are any common themes you can learn from.

If you spot a bad review, don’t just let it slide, ask any potential caterers about that complaint so you know how they would handle a similar issue in your event.

Request Quotes from Several Caterers in Your Area

When planning an event, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing a caterer. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a caterer, so it’s important to do your research. One of the first things you should do is request quotes from several caterers in your area.

This will give you a good idea of what each caterer charges for their services. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, schedule a tasting with each caterer on your shortlist.

Schedule Tastings and Confirm Pricing

The caterer should be able to provide samples of all the food they serve at their restaurant or catering service. Make sure you ask if there are any food allergies you need to be accommodated for, as well as any other dietary restrictions (i.e., vegan, gluten-free).

If they can’t accommodate your needs, it’s probably best to keep looking. Also, ensure you taste various dishes because some prefer certain dishes over others.

Ask to see a sample menu from one of their previous events at your tasting. You can usually find pictures on their website, or they may have left behind a copy of a menu at an event they catered to in your area.

When sampling food and wine, consider how it will taste at your event. The caterers should offer suggestions about what foods pair well together and answer any questions you have about their menu offerings.

Stay Within Your Budget

When choosing a caterer, it’s important to find one that fits your budget and your event’s needs. If you are on a tight budget, you may consider having a potluck or making food at home. However, if you have more flexibility in your funds or want to be able to get creative with how you serve food at your event, then this list is for you!

The catering company should offer menu planning sessions with different options available so guests can try them out before the big day. Ask about the additional costs that may not be listed on their website (which includes things like alcohol licenses).

Be sure to ask about any additional fees that could come up during the event day, including clean-up after service or any extra hours they may need to prepare everything beforehand.