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What to Look for When Hiring a Wedding Caterer in Toronto

What to Look for When Hiring a Wedding Caterer in Toronto

Food and drinks play a significant role in ensuring that your guests leave your wedding with a memorable experience. They will also account for one of the most considerable portions of your budget. According to a wedding planner, the rule of thumb is the venue, food, bar, and staffing costs are about 50 percent of your overall budget when planning a wedding in Canada. 

Whether you prefer a sit-down dinner, cocktail hour with passed appetizers, or a hot buffet, finding the perfect caterer is the first step. It’s essential to prioritize the process of selecting a wedding caterer, as your choice of caterer can set the tone for your event. 

Hiring a wedding caterer might seem challenging, especially in a city like Toronto, where you can access many catering services. Fortunately, we can simplify the process by breaking down all the essential aspects you must consider when hiring a wedding caterer in Toronto, like McEwan Catering, for a successful event.

Let’s get started!

Evaluate the Costs

The cost of hiring a wedding caterer is one of the most important things to consider before proceeding with your plans. Figuring out how much the catering service will cost you can help you make sound financial decisions and smoothen the process.

Budget

When considering the event’s logistics, including your budget in the process. Establishing a comfortable budget in the initial planning stages will help you narrow down your caterer options and allow you to choose a menu accordingly.

wedding budgeting

Number of guests

The number of guests attending your event will play a critical role in how much you have to pay for a wedding caterer. Try to finalize your guest list and ask your attendees to RSVP early enough for you to make food arrangements accordingly. According to Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, you should consider sending the invitation two to three months from the actual wedding.

If you provide your caterer with a number and attempt to make changes too close to the event date, it might be challenging for them to accommodate the request or result in extra charges for you.

Serving style

The serving style you prefer can also influence the cost of hiring a wedding caterer. Ask your caterer what types of serving classes they offer to determine which one will best suit your event. For example, Toronto caterers typically provide buffet stations, plated meals, and family-style options.

food catering

Confirm Availability

Figuring out whether or not your preferred caterer is available on your event date is one of the essential steps in the process.

Finalize the Date

The best way to ensure the caterer is available is by finalizing your event date. If you have a few dates in mind, try to confirm the date before reaching out to the caterer. This will enable you to verify if your caterer is available on the same day.

Inquire About Other Events 

Even if your caterer tells you they’re available on your wedding day, they may have other events lined up at a different time on the same day. For example, if there are any delays in your event, can your caterer accommodate you accordingly? If your event is the only one they cater to on that day, they will have more flexibility to provide personalized service and experience.

Food reception table wedding

Explore the Menu

Once you’ve figured out the cost and availability of your preferred wedding caterer, it’s time to move on to another crucial component of selecting a wedding caterer – the food!

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Their specialty

Some caterers offer a static menu, while others are open to customization. It’s essential to find out what their most popular dishes are when choosing a menu. They may offer specialized items that could add value to your wedding menu. McEwan Catering in Toronto provides a diverse menu, enabling you to choose your preferred things from an extensive list. 

Discuss your preferences with the caterer and consider their suggestions. When you choose a professional caterer with extensive experience, they’re likely to know which dishes are crowd favourites, allowing you to create a menu that will satisfy your guests.

Ability to Handle Dietary Restrictions

Your wedding will likely feature a diverse range of guests, and some may have dietary restrictions. Therefore, you must determine if your caterer can handle nutritional constraints and offer alternative food options if necessary. 

It’s always good to keep a few simple items on your menu that are likely suitable for people with various dietary restrictions and preferences, such as those with gluten or peanut allergies or vegan-friendly items. 

Menu Tasting

After you’ve narrowed down your caterer options, it can be helpful to schedule a menu tasting. Some caterers offer a tasting menu to help you decide which items you prefer. If they don’t provide this option, ask for a sample meal. This step is necessary to determine which caterer’s food best suits your vision. 

Inquire About Additional Services

When hiring a wedding caterer, you pay for more than just the food. In addition, you must select an efficient staff team to assist you throughout the event.

Beverages

Ask the caterer what kind of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages they provide with your package and clarify the terms ahead to avoid any confusion on the day of the event. It’s also essential to find out how they charge for the drinks and whether it’s based on per consumption or person. When you figure out how much each method costs, you can decide which is more cost-effective. 

If you want to provide your alcohol, it’s essential to determine if your wedding caterer will offer bartenders that serve the drinks. If you choose to supply the alcohol, you may be required to obtain a Special Occasion Permit (SOP) under Ontario’s Liquor Licence Act. Find out if your event requires this permit and apply ahead of time to avoid delays. 

drinks

Setup & Cleanup

Some caterers offer limited services and set up the food but don’t play a significant role at the end of the event when it’s time to clean up. On the other hand, a full-service wedding caterer will arrive early to efficiently set up the food and other things required and stay back to clean up after the event ends. A full-service caterer may charge a higher fee, but the price might be worth paying if it saves you the hassle of cleaning up after the event. 

A professional caterer will likely know the most efficient ways to clean up, saving time and ensuring that the venue management has no complaints. 

Plates, Cutlery, Glasses

Many professional wedding caterers provide other items you will need at your events, such as plates, cutlery, and glasses. Some may also offer water pitchers and napkins, depending on your agreement. When the caterer handles the responsibility of arranging tableware and other items required, it gives you time to focus on different aspects of the event.

wedding food

Learn About Their Expertise

When choosing a wedding caterer, take some time to learn about their expertise to determine which cater is a better fit for your big day.

Their prior experience

A caterer’s prior experience plays a significant role in ensuring the quality of food and service at your event. There are many caterers available in Toronto, but not all of them possess the same skills required to make your event a success.

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The number of years in the industry isn’t the only qualification you should consider when choosing. History of catering both small and large events can give you a better insight into their abilities. You could also request photos from past events to determine if you like how the food and setup look

It can also be beneficial to hire a caterer that has catered a wedding before, as it enables them to be familiar with how things flow at the venue. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that help you gauge their abilities to deliver. 

Ask for referrals

When prior clients provide testimony to your potential caterer’s services, you can make an informed decision during your selection process. You can ask the previous clients about food quality and taste, the caterer’s professionalism, and adherence to contract terms. Ask your caterer for referrals from clients whose events they’ve catered to before.

You can also read reviews online and learn about other people’s experiences with the caterer. Online customer reviews are crucial as 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. 

wedding table planning

Consult friends and family

If any of your friends or family members recently hosted an event and you enjoyed the catering service, you can ask them to connect you with their caterer. This is one of the best ways to ensure quality.

Discuss contract terms

A contract will protect both you and the caterer in the agreement. The contract should outline what food, beverages, services, and other things are expected from the caterer. It should also mention the event’s date, time, and location. 

A well-defined contract will save you and your contract from unforeseen circumstances during the event. In the event of a cancellation, the contract should also state the procedure for both parties and the penalties, if any.

Certifications

Your wedding caterer must have the necessary certifications and proof of compliance with industry standards. In addition, food businesses and organizations in Toronto are expected to learn about and comply with the Ontario Food Safety Laws and Requirements to operate their business successfully. 

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Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer

You may want to ask your wedding caterer a few questions to determine their eligibility, as it will allow you to make an informed decision.

Have you ever catered at our venue before?

It’s essential to find out if the caterer has already catered at your venue. If they have, they will be familiar with the platform, allowing them to set up faster and comply with the venue rules effectively. 

How much time will you need for setup and clean-up at our venue?

Your contract terms should indicate how much time your caterers will require to set up and clean up at the venue. This also gives you a better insight into how long you should book the venue and avoid misunderstandings with the venue management.

Will food be made on-site or brought in?

It can be helpful to find out if the food will be made on-site or brought in as it could impact your contract with the venue. If the food is made off-site and transported to your venue, ask your caterer if the transportation will affect the quality or taste of the food. Learning whether the food will be made on or off-site might help you choose the menu accordingly.

How will you handle last-minute requests?

It’s not unusual for you to require last-minute changes for your wedding event. For example, you may want to add more guests to the list or change a menu item. Therefore, it’s crucial to find out how your caterer promises to handle last-minute requests before selecting them.

The Value of a Caterer

Hiring a wedding caterer is one of the most important tasks to fulfill for your big day. The overall success of your event depends on your choice of caterer’s abilities to deliver on their promises. Do your due diligence to find a company that suits your vision and the needs of your event. 

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FAQ – Choosing a Wedding Caterer

How long ahead of time should I hire a caterer?

Consider hiring your caterer as soon as you finalize your venue. It may take some time to find your ideal caterer, but once you do, try to book them at least six to eight months before your big day.

What can I do to ensure I include every guest’s dietary restriction?

When creating wedding invitations, provide an option for guests to mention any dietary restrictions when they RSVP for your event. For example, you can write, “Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements.” Ask your guests to RSVP ahead of time and browse all the invitations to determine what dietary restrictions you need to prioritize.

How do I compare caterers?

As mentioned in this guide, the best way to compare caterers is by considering the menu, services offered, professionalism, and costs. 

What is the essentiality a caterer must possess?

A wedding caterer should possess a few essential qualities to deliver successfully, but one of the most important traits is food quality. The ingredients used should be fresh, and the food preparation procedure should comply with health and safety standards.

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