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11 must-haves for a classic reception your guests will always remember

Planning a wedding reception is exciting and daunting at the same time. This is the event that your guests look forward to, which demands you plan it well. When done right, wedding receptions are very memorable, and you do want your guests to remember yours fondly.

If you are a creative person, there is plenty you can do at your wedding reception. People remember unique wedding reception themes best. However, the cost climbs quickly with each idea you implement. Nonetheless, there are certain essentials for a reception, that you shouldn’t overlook. Let us look at these wedding reception essentials, that you must have to guarantee a good day.

1.An original theme

There are plenty of original ideas you can adopt for your wedding day. Nonetheless, as a couple, you should be able to identify with the theme you choose. If you think of it, certain themes are more trendy than others in each season. From the Great Gatsby theme in 2015 to vintage glamour in 2017, every year introduces us to new and interesting themes. While there is no harm in picking one of these for your wedding, ensure you do something special with it. In other ways, you should ensure you make it your own. Although you will find inspiration in magazines, on the internet or even at other weddings, try to add your unique touches to the theme you choose.

Whether it is with the color palette, patterns or details, avoid a cookie-cutter wedding by adding a personal flavor to the theme. Or better still, stay away from the trends and find a theme that reflects who you are as a couple. It could be based on your hobbies, what you like to do together or even on your loved story.

2.The perfect venue

The term “perfect” is subjective, for different factors appeal to different couples. However, let us concern ourselves with the wedding guests for now. In their eyes, the perfect venue will be easy to find, comfortable to settle into and welcoming with its ambiance and décor. This venue should also have enough space to accommodate your entire guest list. It shouldn’t be too cramped, but should have enough space for lounging, dancing and relaxing.

Apart from these factors, it is necessary that the venue match the theme of your wedding. Only then will it become the perfect backdrop for your event. Since the choicest venues tend to get booked quickly, this should be one of your priority wedding planning tasks. Start looking at potential venues as soon as you decide on your wedding theme. For more tips on choosing the right venue for your reception, visit this post on the Brides website. 

3.Delicious appetizers

A few signature appetizers are all it takes to nail that first impression. After all, the entrees give your guests a heads-up of what to expect in the food and drink department. Even while the rest of the meal is standard fare, interesting appetizers can pep up the menu. Small, bite-sized food items make a strong impression. It is also the best way to serve up your favorite dishes, if they aren’t suitable as the main course.

Don’t forget to make the presentation of your entrees impressive. This will add to its appeal, and your guests will be amazed by the attention to detail. Make the entire set-up festive and fun by adding a few unique drinks to the mix. If you want some inspiration to get the ball rolling, here are some ideas on the Brides website. 

4.Impressive décor

Your wedding reception décor creates the first impression of the event that follows. So, don’t hesitate to pull all stops to make it striking. Depending on your budget, there are different ways to bring your theme alive. The good news is that with a little research and planning, you will come across numerous options with unique personality and flavor.

While there is no harm in DIY-ing most details, it can tax you in terms to time and effort. In all-inclusive wedding packages, the décor is usually taken care of. However, you can always add your small signature touches to this, and ensure your wedding has its personal elements. If you have hired a wedding planner, you have the right person on board to guide you with the right décor that works within your budget and has the impact you desire. One important thing to remember that it is easy to go overboard or become overwhelmed with the many different options available. Stop when you find the right balance, and don’t add too many details that will simply end up being lost in the clutter.

5.Beautiful centerpieces

Centerpieces are an important element in wedding décor. However, these are also more important than most of the other items in your décor. This is because your guests will be seeing the centerpieces up close for a great part of the evening. So, the better you execute it, the more impressive it will be. While your centerpieces should follow the theme, you can also add unique touches to give it a signature effect.

Exercise your creativity and vary the designs across the tables for more appeal. Whether you choose towering centerpieces or ones that spread out, make sure the arrangement is neat and give each item its space. The centerpieces should also either be high up or below eye level, so it doesn’t obstruct the view. Finally, don’t overdo the details. Since your guests will sit close to it, it can look cluttered if there are too many details.

6.A great menu

Just as with signature appetizers, a good menu will definitely make the wedding memorable. In fact, food is one of the things that your guests will look forward to most. So, don’t disappoint. Find a caterer who consistently delivers  and has the equipment, resources and knowledge to execute your chosen menu to perfection. Don’t forget to match the food to the theme, in terms of colors, flavor or choice of dishes. This will tie it to the wedding beautifully. Also pay attention to the presentation. It doesn’t matter how tasty an item is, if it doesn’t look good it will fail to create the right impression.

Don’t forget to find the right mix of drinks for the meal you plan. Since drinks complement the meal, choose them carefully. Remember that your guests will have different palates and varying preferences. Keep this in mind and choose a variety of dishes and drinks so there is something to please everyone.

7.Great music

The entertainment for the evening can make or break your wedding reception. So, don’t skimp on this part. Whether you hire a band or a DJ, make sure you check reviews and watch a CD or attend one of their actual performances. You should be confident that they will keep the group entertained all evening long.

When hiring entertainment, also remember that your guests will be from different age groups and with varying likes and dislikes. So, plan your playlist in such a way that there is something for everyone. Mix new and fast numbers with classics, so everyone can join in the fun. Also remember that the band leader or DJ will mostly handle the announcements of the different events like cutting the cake and the first dance. Co-ordinate with this person to make sure your reception progresses as per schedule. Also discuss your specific do’s and don’ts, and ensure that the guests have a good time with no unexpected issues.

8.Exciting entertainment

Games are a great way to break the ice, and to help your guests enjoy the evening. It is also a way to get bored guests involved keep themselves busy between events. Make a list of games that will appeal to all, whether they are young or old. Consider space constraints when making your choice. While certain games like musical chairs can be played both indoors and outdoors, it requires plenty of space.

You will also have to co-ordinate with the wedding party in advance, to make sure the games progress smoothly. Brief them on what to arrange, where to be and what to do, so they know their roles. This will help the event to proceed without hitches and your guests to have fun.

9.Good service

You may have good food and a beautiful presentation, but the service matters too. Unless catering arrangements at your wedding progress smoothly and on-time, your guests may end up dissatisfied. Make sure you discuss this factor with the team in action.

If you had your guests pick their food from a pre-defined menu, make sure everything is recorded and done correctly. There may be guests with specific dietary requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure their requirements are adhered to. So, cross check this with the catering manager. Prompt and cordial service and pleasant staff will ensure your event progresses smoothly and your guests are happy with how the day turns out to be.

10.Exciting photography

After your wedding day is long gone, the photos will remind you of the fun day that it was. Have your special day documented in full style by hiring the services of an efficient and talented photographer. He should make it a point to cover all the guests at the event. This will serve as a reminder of all those who attended this important occasion in your life.

While the photography should be fun, it shouldn’t compete for time with the rest of the events. No guest will like to attend an event where they barely get to chat with the couple. Discuss this with your photographer in advance. Set up specific slots of time during the day, that you can dedicate to taking photographs. Also discuss how you want your photos to look, and your photographer can plan his shots to reflect your taste. For more ideas on what to look for in a wedding photographer, take a look at this article on the Knot. 

11.Interaction with the guests

Although it is your special day, it is essential you acknowledge all those who participate in it. Irrespective of whether a guest flew in from a faraway location for your wedding or just stepped in from next door, what matters is that they made it to your wedding. It is only right that you spare a few minutes to chat with each of them and thank them for their time and effort.

You and your spouse can simply pop by at each reception table and engage in small talk with the guests. Say your thanks, give a few compliments and be courteous. Keep it brief and move on to the next table after few minutes. You can then cover the entire lot in minimum ti e. Your guests will definitely appreciate this small dose of attention.

Planning a wedding is a detail-oriented, time-consuming and laborious task. There are several details that can make or break an entire wedding planning event. Nevertheless, with proper planning and execution a wedding can progres smoothly from start to end.

At Best for bride, we try out best to relieve the bride’s stress to a great extent by giving her all she needs for her wedding under one roof. From bridal dress collections to bridesmaids dresses, mother of the bride dresses, bridal accessories, emergency kits and more, we have all you need for your special day. Take a look at our website by clicking this link and see what we have to offer brides who are soon-to-be-married.

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6 helpful things to know before you start wedding planning

Now that you are newly engaged and finished celebrating your engagement party with your dear folks, are you all set to dive into wedding planning? Just wait a second! There are certain things that you should be aware of, before you start wedding planning. These will help you save a lot of money, as well as make your planning process a lot easier.

Today, let us take a look at a handful of helpful tips to use when planning your wedding. Trust us, it will save you a lot of confusion and regrets later. And, here they are!

1.Booking the venue—what to remember

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While factors like matching your wedding theme, the ease of reaching the location and number of people it can accommodate are all relevant factors, there are some things to remember, if you are on a budget. They are:

Peak wedding months are expensive: June to August is peak wedding season, and everything is at a premium cost during this time. Consider getting married earlier in the year, when winter is no longer as severe, and spring is just about to arrive. Or, you can consider early fall for your wedding, as venues often slash their prices this time of the year.

Don’t hesitate to ask for a discount: Don’t assume that the price you receive on your venue is final! Even if it is just falls within your budget, don’t quickly jump at the quote and book the venue right away. Negotiate with the venue manager and find out if there is any possibility of getting it at a lower price. If you are lucky, you may get yourself a better bargain.

Look at alternatives, before visiting your preferred location: This helps in two ways. First, you will know which option you will consider, should your first choice not work out. Secondly, it allows you to know what else is on offer, and make a wise decision based on it. As with anything wedding related, it is a good idea to research and explore your choices before you settle down with what you actually choose for the wedding.

2.Wedding planner—what are the options

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Booking a wedding planner will make your wedding planning a lot easier. However, you should know that there are different options, and depending on what you choose, the service you receive and the price you pay will be different. So, let us take a look at what are your options.

Event planners: This is the whole package, where the planner will be involved in every aspect of planning your wedding. They will literally do your job for you, and will be responsible for executing everything at your wedding and making sure there are no hassles on the day. Event planners are quite expensive, as they will be working on your wedding for several months and you have to compensate them for their time and effort.

Part-time planners: This is where you do not outsource the entire wedding planning process, but only selected aspects that you aren’t able to handle yourself. This is more budget-friendly, as you can delegate the tasks that you do not have the time for, and pay only for it. Since you will be doing the greater share of the work, you will find it much cheaper than booking an event planner. If you are naturally organized and want to personally oversee your wedding details, this may be the right option for you.

Day-of coordinator: Even if you are handling everything about your wedding yourself, a day-of coordinator should definitely be considered. This is because you do not want to worry yourself with last-minute details on your wedding day. If you want a stress-free wedding day, a day-of coordinator can take charge of managing the various factors on that day. They will see that everything progresses smoothly and as per plan, leaving you to enjoy your wedding as you should.

Once you choose which of these services meets your needs best, again discuss the charges with the people you consider for the job. Compare the rates for an all-inclusive package with one for customized services, and choose the one that is best for your budget and needs.

3.Before paying for Wedding Entertainment

Choosing between a DJ and a band can be really confusing. You may be under the general impression that a DJ costs much lesser than a band. However, it can be quite expensive to book a good DJ who can actually make your party come alive. There are ways in which you can get a reasonable quote for a band too, and here are some tips for that.

Look for experienced student groups: If there is a music school in your area, you may be in luck. Student groups are usually energetic, exciting and just as efficient as a trained band in creating a lively party atmosphere. The bonus is that they cost much less. So, if you are up for the risk, look around for such a band.

Ask for the breakup charges: Instead of just being shocked by the overall quote from a band, ask them for the breakup costs. If it includes transportation, see if you can arrange a cheaper alternative and save some cash that way. Also, look at the list of musicians and ask if you can downsize to just those who you actually need.

4.Before you go wedding shopping

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Wedding dresses are crucial to transforming you into a splendid bride, however they can be quite pricey. Before you step into the shop, do your research and know your options. Here are some ways to make the most of your wedding dress budget.

Consider more than one style: If you keep your options open, it is easier to find a dress that falls within budget. Do your research ahead of time, and identify which styles will look good on you. Then look at dresses in these styles and choose the one that you are satisfied with, both in look and in price.

Look at the clearance and sale section: Many bridal shops like Best for Bride, will always have dresses on discounts and on sale. Before you look at the latest collection, it may be a good idea to see what is available in the sale section. You may find a dress that is quite similar to what you love in the current collection, at a fraction of a price.

Wait for trunk shows: Trunk shows are a bride’s dream-come-true, especially if you are in a standard 8-12 size group. These shows allow you to find the dress of your dreams at a reduced cost. If you are engaged for a year or more, it is likely that you will come across at least one trunk show during this time. So, call up the boutiques in the area and find out whether they have one scheduled in the near future. Put off your wedding shopping session till after wards, so you can take a chance and hope to find your wedding dress at the trunk show.

Save on alterations: When you fix your wedding dress budget, you also have to account for the alteration charges for the dress. It is highly unlikely that you will perfectly fit into a dress you find off-the-rack. So, you will have to pay extra to alter it to fit you. However, you will have to pay less on alterations if you take care of the following factors

  • find a dress that is closest to your actual size, neither too big nor too small
  • not make expensive custom changes, like altering the neckline or design feature as any amount of rework will cost more money

Rent your dress: If you really want to make the most of your wedding dress budget, consider renting the dress instead of buying it. At shops like Best for Bride, the rental section has ample choices in different sizes. You can rent the dress along with the accessories for a fraction of the original cost, and not worry about boxing or caring for the dress afterwards and put the money to some other use. Alternately, you can also scour the internet for unused dresses on sales, that usually are a great bargain as they are brand new, but not as expensive as a fresh piece in a shop.

5.Before you take any pictures

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Wedding photography is an essential for every wedding, and you can choose from different types and packages based on your preferences and budget. Before you even set out to look for a photographer, consider how you want your wedding photographs to be captured. The different types of wedding photography include:

Traditional: The classic portrait style photographs with group pictures in specified poses.

Casual: Candid photography, where the photographer captures casual and original moments of the day, and shoots from unconventional angles. The photographer aims to recreate the memories of the day, by capturing the wedding with the most relevant and unique pictures that characterize the wedding.

A mix of the two: Here, the photographer uses both casual and posed portraits to completely cover the wedding.

Art-style: Here the focus is on creating one-of-a-kind photographs that transcend into the realm of art. It is anything but traditional.

Depending on your personal taste, you can decide upon the type of photography to have at your wedding, and then find photographers who work with the style you choose. Some tips to help you, before you start shortlisting photographers are as follows.

Compare packages and custom deals: You may not always require all that is included in a photographer’s package. If this is the case, ask if you can have a custom quote based on what you require. This is also useful if you need an extra service from what is included in a package deal.

Discuss how many hours you will need the photographer to cover your wedding: Before you meet with a photographer, be clear on how much time you will need his services for. You must make sure that he will be available for the important events both at the start and the end of the day. If he charges overtime rates for staying beyond certain number of hours, and in case your wedding goes on for longer than anticipated, make sure you know in advance.

6.The food factor

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There are many factors that decide the food expenses you will have to incur. Factors to consider when choosing your caterer are as follows.

Choice of menu: Remember that gourmet meals will cost more than standard meals. So, let the choice of cuisine be one of the guiding factors in determining your food budget. The overall presentation and whether the dishes have to be created fresh on-site or can be prepared in advance will also decide the catering cost.

Buffet or plated-style: Buffets and plated meals, both have their own pros and cons. The sensible and budget-friendly option is to have a mix of both styles. This means you can use shared platters for the main meal, while individual portions are served as starters. This will minimize wastage and maximize the value for money.

This brings us to the end of the various factors that will prevent a headache for you, later. Do your research and plan the possible workable options for each of these choices, and you will be able to work it out very easily.

Best for Bride is a wedding shop that brings you the latest and trendiest in wedding gowns, bridesmaids dresses and attire for the wedding party. We also have invitations, wedding favors and services like wedding cakes, décor arrangements and florists. Visit our online bridal shop to learn more about all our services, and also find out about the latest offers, discounts and sales we have. Experience the best of bridal shopping with our seasoned bridal consultants who will assist you in finding the dream gown for your big day. For a fun-filled and enjoyable experience, contact us today and book your appointment.

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Wedding tasting etiquette: 10 things you should be aware of

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The food that is served at your wedding has an important role in determining the overall wedding experience. Most of the guests, if not all, will look forward to the food that is provided on your wedding day. So, you do not want them to be unhappy with the meal offered, while everything else was done to perfection.

Most wedding vendors offer a wedding tasting session before you book your order. With this option, you can actually see, taste, and experience the food that will be served on your wedding day. We suggest that you take your caterer up on this offer of wedding food tasting and make sure everything is just right, so there are no regrets later.

As with anything wedding-related – from the bridal shower gifts to choosing the perfect ring, there is a catering tasting etiquette that you should adhere to. We will be looking at the do’s and don’ts of wedding food tasting etiquette. But before we move to this list, let us first try to understand what you can expect at your tasting session.

What to expect at your tasting

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Tastings allow you to sample the menu you have chosen for your reception. It gives you a real idea of how the service will be, and how the food will look and taste. While some caterers offer complimentary tastings, others charge you for it. Some vendors, however, offer complimentary tasting if you sign the contract first. This is because it can end up being very expensive for the vendor otherwise.

If you are just shopping around and want to taste the food prior to committing to an order, this is also usually possible. The caterer may then ask you to pay for the food that will be served at the tasting. 

If a vendor disagrees to conduct a tasting prior to paying a deposit, you can ask him to make an exception if you would be ready to pay for it. If he refuses, think twice about booking. The service at the reception may go either way, and the last thing you want is to regret booking it without an idea of what you would be receiving.

Prior to your tasting session, you will be expected to discuss your expectations and choose the dishes you want to try, from their menu. Full-size portions are usually served, so you can actually see and experience how the wedding meal will be. The drinks that will be served, will also be included with the meal.

Now that you know what to expect at the tasting session, let us move on to the general etiquette for a successful tasting session. Follow the list we have provided, and you are sure to have a positive experience, whether you choose to go with the caterer or not.

Wedding food tasting Etiquette

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Keep your entourage limited

While many caterers offer complimentary tasting sessions for up to 4 guests, you should be able to include more if you are paying for it yourself. However, as with bridal dress shopping, it is not only good food tasting etiquette, but you can actually achieve the best results if you keep the entourage to a minimum. With more people, you can easily lose focus and this isn’t favorable for neither you nor your caterer.

Bring a small group of three to four people at the most, and they should be ones who can give honest and helpful feedback. If you have a wedding planner, she should be at the tasting. This is because she is experienced enough to look beyond basics, and can spot potential problems in the quality of food and service. She can also relate the service and dishes to how the meal would actually work at your venue, and make suggestions that will help.

Be flexible with your schedule

Remember that there are a lot of factors that go into planning a tasting session. Your caterer will have to put his staff on duty to prepare the meal, however small it may be. Different vendors handle tasting sessions in different ways. While some conduct open-house tasting sessions for a number of couples, others may give you a special session where you can have a personalized sample of what you would like for your wedding day.

In certain cases, your caterer may even ask you to attend a function that they are catering to. This may be so you can see how they conduct their service, and also sample the food as it will be done on your wedding day. Whichever be the style of your caterer, you should be able to accommodate it into your schedule, if you want to consider his services. This is also where you should consider what to wear to a wedding tasting. If you will be attending a function they are catering at, make sure you dress appropriately for the event and not look out of place.

Don’t lose focus of why you are there

A tasting session is about understanding how your reception food will be. Your caterer would prefer that you focus on the food at the tasting, instead of any other things that are going on in your life. Do not consider this as an occasion for family discussions or friendly feuds, and try to limit your conversations to the food and the wedding. Remember that your caterer will be near, observing you throughout. So, don’t be disrespectful or ignore the purpose of why you are there.

Save the serious discussions for later, unless you want to sound rude. Keep the chattering to a minimum and pay attention to what is provided. Attend your session with a notepad and camera, so you can make notes and click pictures for future reference. This will also help you better to make suggestions for changes.

Come prepared for the tasting

Apart from being prepared to take notes and pictures, it is important that you are also involved in the tasting. Plan your tasting session for a day when you do not have any other pressing engagements. Only then can you concentrate and make the most of the experience. Be mentally prepared and attentive. If you have any pressing work problems or other things on your mind, schedule the tasting for another day.

Do not eat a heavy meal or fill your stomach up with snacks, prior to your session. Neither should you starve yourself. You should be hungry enough to enjoy the session, but not too hungry to just gobble it down without recognizing if it is actually tasty. Remember that it is a full course meal that you will have. So, make sure your evening is entirely devoted to the tasting. You’ll probably also have to cancel any other plans later that day, as you will just want to crash into bed and snooze, once it’s over.

Don’t be too intimidating at the service

There are some couples who stare and keep such a close watch, that it can seem creepy to the waiters at the service. Don’t feel like you have to be so attentive, that you intimidate the people who serve you. Stay composed and relaxed, and try to enjoy the experience of how it is. If you aren’t happy with the dried out cheese, wilted vegetables or shabby presentation, don’t look upset or openly cringe. If there are things that you aren’t happy about, don’t worry. This is not the actual thing, there is scope for improvement once you give your suggestions. You can even consider switching to another vendor if you are entirely unhappy with what you experienced at the tasting.

Don’t go overboard with the drinks

You will usually be served wine or another beverage at your tasting, and the same will usually be served at your wedding. Don’t drink too much, so you become tipsy and can’t focus anymore. Just take small sips to identify how it goes with the rest of the meal. Remember that you should have a clear head to identify how the tasting is, and too much alcohol can damage the possibilities. Not only is it good manners to not become inebriated, but it is also essential to the purpose of why you are at the place.

Be discrete when you discuss things

We know that you may want to discuss certain factors with the rest of your group, before making a verdict. There may be other things that you want to draw their attention to. If these are negative factors, don’t be too loud or overly critical when discussing it. Discuss it briefly, and keep it on a positive note. Don’t hesitate to check with your catering in-charge, if its a factor that really bothers you. But don’t get into an argument or be too patronizing about it.

Most people are open to positive criticism, but may not be too happy if you only have negative things to say. As with any other social situation, mind your manners when you voice your opinion. Be courteous and clear, but do not insult or embarrass with what you say.

Be honest with your feedback

If you enjoyed your meal, it isn’t likely that you will have much trouble saying so. Now, if it were the other way around, we know why you may feel a little hesitant to say so. Nevertheless, you should provide honest feedback. If there is anything that you would have liked to be different, make sure your chef or waiter knows. This way, they can rectify it on an actual day and make sure you are happy.

Whether it is about the food, the presentation, or the service, telling your vendor at your tasting session will help him move things around to meet your expectations. Nonetheless, be mindful of the way you say things. Even if it is a negative opinion, try to focus on the positives as well, so you don’t sound like you are reprimanding them. Be diplomatic, offer suggestions on how they can improve it, and appreciate all that you liked. This is just being plain courteous.

Tip the waiter who served you

The fact that you are at a tasting session shouldn’t alter the way you normally behave at dinner. It is in fact pretty similar, considering that there were people who served you and who were attentive to your needs, at your tasting. Even if it is a complimentary tasting, it is customary to tip the waiter who attended to you. So, make sure you do it. Do it as you would do when you eat out otherwise. Consider the total amount the meal would cost, and tip the same percentage that you would do normally for that price.

Personally thank the chef

The main person behind the scenes is obviously, the chef! You will be in touch with the catering manager or venue manager. However, remember that they are not the ones who are actually responsible for whipping up delicious food. This happens in the kitchen. The chef and his team are the star players in creating the flavors that your guests will feast on. So, it is good wedding tasting etiquette to meet them and thank them for their efforts. It is not necessary but is nice if you do so.

Request to meet personally with the chef, and appreciate and thank him for his work. This nice little gesture can do amazing things for your wedding. The chef will remember you for how nice you were, and will add that extra dose of care into his dishes for your wedding day. This can be really worth that little effort of yours.

If everything goes well and you enjoyed your tasting session, that is one thing you can strike off your wedding planning list. However, if the opposite happens, and you hated it, what do you do? If you haven’t signed the contract, you can just walk away from there and keep searching for a better option. If you have already signed the contract, consider the following options.

  • Provide specific details about what you didn’t like and ask them what they can do to change it
  • Be polite, but firm and vocal when you insist you want something changed, as it isn’t up to your expectations. It is right to expect your caterer to make adjustments to please your palate. So, don’t shy away from it and settle for food you aren’t happy with.
  • Do you have suggestions on how they can improve things? Tell them about it and see if they can accommodate these changes.
  • If they offer different menu items, make sure to taste them before you approve the change.

Visit us at Best for Bride for more wedding-related tips, advice, and shopping needs. You can find everything you need, including vendors for your wedding in our list of services. Check out our website today, and move one step closer to having a fantastic wedding day.

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10 questions you must ask your wedding caterer

Good food is a very important factor in making your wedding memorable. However detailed and unique your wedding décor may be, or how beautiful you look on your wedding day, all this becomes insignificant if your wedding menu is not up to the mark.

Food lovers are aplenty, and there will be more than just few at your wedding. So, you are responsible for providing hearty and interesting fare, that will appeal to them. Only then will they go home happy, and consider your wedding a total success.

The responsibility of serving delicious food and creating an interesting menu, lay with your wedding caterer. With a reliable and talented caterer on your side, it will be easy to satisfy your guests and even exceed their expectations, where food is concerned.

How do you find the right person to cater to your wedding? Find out for your self, by asking the following ten questions to potential candidates.

1.What are your service charges, and what does it include?

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Everything in a wedding is closely tied to the wedding budget. To choose a caterer, you have to first obtain quotes from caterers you wish to consider. This helps you to decide if the charges will be within your budget, and you can proceed with further discussions. Caterers do not just supply the food for the wedding, they also provide the associated services. These may or may not include setting up, serving the food, clean-up after service, cake slicing and serving etc.

The services included in the quotes may differ from one vendor to another. So, you should ask for what is included specifically, as this not only contributes to the experience, but will also impact your budget. If the caterer provides only the food, you have to spend extra on the staff for the service. When collecting quotes, ask for a detailed break-up of what is included in it. This will help you compare caterers and find the best option that works within your budget, after considering all the extras that you have to arrange separately.

2.How many staff will be present at the venue?

This is obviously tied to your guest count and type of food service. This cheat sheet on Wedding planning for dummies gives an apt representation for different types of services.  The ideal staff to guest ratio can vary from 1 or 2 waiters for up to 12 guests at a formal sit-down style meal to 1 for 25 guests at a buffet meal service. However, not all vendors use the same server-to-guest ratio.

It is important to obtain this detail, as this will affect the quality of service at your wedding. You should also consider details like what other jobs the waiters will simultaneously be handling, to determine if the count works for you. Whether the staff will be refilling glasses at the tables itself, or whether guests will be collecting their beverages from a station, can alter the required number count. Take the numbers and your wedding menu style into consideration, before deciding whether a caterer’s staff count will work for you. If there is more self-service happening at the wedding, you can afford to have fewer waiters.

3.How do you obtain your ingredients?

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Local and seasonal ingredients are always cheaper. If you are looking for some help with your budget, ask your caterer how they source ingredients. While comparing rates, you should take this factor into account. When you have to pay more for quality ingredients, it is likely that the food will also taste better. So, it is basically a compromise you have to make between the price and quality. If you consider it important to serve organic or reliably sourced food, you will have to pay more for caterers who can handle this requirement.

4.Will there be any extra charges that you will have to bear, apart from what is quoted?

There are factors to consider, such as the rental charges of the cutlery, glassware and tableware that will be used at your wedding. Do these come with the venue, does your caterer provide it along with the food service, or will you have to arrange for this on your own? Clarify this upfront, so there is no confusion after you place your order. Some caterers will add the rental charges to their total quote, while others will assume you will take care of this part. So, make sure you know what you are paying for.

Apart from this, you should also check whether the final bill will include any additional or overhead charges like transportation or clearing up charges. Or, is what is mentioned on the bill, the final price you have to pay?

5.How will the food be prepared prior to service?

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You should be concerned about whether the food will be ready-to-serve when it arrives, or whether the caterer will be doing the finishing touches on-site? The right option depends on the menu you choose. Some items have to be prepared right before service, as this is the only way they will taste good and look appetizing. Crisp and fried food are examples.

On the other hand, you can afford to have other items prepared early and simply transferred to the serving dishes at the time of service. Cold salads and dips fall into this category. It is likely that you will have at least one or more dishes that require assembling or finishing, just prior to service. Ask your caterer how this will be handled. If the lower quote is associated with food that isn’t served in the best way it should be, you should either replace the dish with another option, or be prepared to pay more for a caterer who will do it on-site.

6.Have you worked in a similar venue before?

The venue where your wedding is held, has a huge role in determining the appropriate type of service. If your caterer has already hosted a service at the same venue, consider yourself in luck. Otherwise, you should identify whether the vendor is capable of arranging a good service in the given conditions.

If you have shortlisted vendors you to choose from, you can take them to the site and ask them about how they intend to work with it. An experienced caterer will immediately recognize if the type of meal that you suggest—plated or buffet—will be practical in a certain venue. They will also offer suggestions on how the service can be streamlined to progress smoothly. This is usually based on their previous experience in catering to weddings of similar scale and in similar venues, if not the same one. This brings us to the next important point; the experience of each vendor you consider for the job.

7.How experienced are you at handling weddings on a similar scale?

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Weddings are usually huge events, and very different from regular restaurant services that most caterers are used to. Experience in handling weddings is a definite advantage. However, it isn’t necessary that the most experienced caterer will be the best for you. This depends on whether their experience includes weddings of a similar nature as yours. If your experienced caterer has only done different styles, or entirely different menus, the less experienced candidate may be a better choice.

The scale of the wedding is also a concern. If your wedding caterer has always done smaller weddings, make sure he has the equipment and staff to cater to your wedding before you confirm your booking. Ask for the additional adjustments they will make to accommodate your wedding needs. Are you convinced they will be able to pull it off? Or do you foresee a disaster? Take a call accordingly.

8.What suggestions do you have for my wedding?

Rather than telling your caterer everything he has to do, you can welcome his suggestions too. As experienced professionals, who have tended to several weddings, they will have ideas you may never have considered. Run your caterer through your wedding vision, the theme and what factors you want focus on. Then ask him for his suggestions. Similarly, gather feedback for your suggestions.

At times, a caterer may not be enthusiastic about a certain idea you suggested. If this is the case, ask him for his reasons. If he thinks it is impractical due to the logistics involved or unavailability of ingredients, you may benefit with following his inputs than forcing him to agree to do it. Your vendor may also have suggestions to make certain dishes more interesting, or suggest substitutes that may better match the meal style. Take these into consideration. When comparing vendors, look at how enthusiastic the different candidates are about your wedding. It is always better to go with someone who is more excited about cooking for you, than someone who is totally bored with your ideas.

9.How many weddings will you be handling simultaneously?

While it is not reasonable to expect your caterer to entirely dedicate his services to your wedding alone, you should be wary of vendors who take on more orders than they can handle. This will affect the quality of service at your wedding. It is even more important to know how many more weddings they will be handling on the same day as yours. If it is only yours, you can expect a more personal service. The preparation for the dishes will also be better, as they wouldn’t be shuffling orders. Communication will be better and there is smaller chance for confusion.

You should also confirm who will be in-charge of your wedding. It is inconvenient if the person who deals with your order changes mid-way, or if new orders will cause the planning associated with your order to be changed. If you attended a tasting session that you loved, you can also clarify whether the same team will be preparing the dishes for the actual wedding. This brings us to the importance of having a tasting session prior to the wedding, so you can see what you will actually get on the day and how you can accommodate any changes that may be necessary.

10.Is the dish at the tasting session final?

Like this article on the Brides blog suggests, every couple should have a tasting session before they finalize a caterer.  This is because you cannot guarantee the quality of service, based on what you see on paper. You have to actually try it out for yourself, to know. So, ask for a tasting session with your shortlisted caterer, before you finalize your order. When attending it, look at the quality of food that is served. Are the vegetables fresh and bright? Is the food served at the right temperature? If it is a buffet, check to see if the food is being replenished in a timely fashion.

It may be a good idea to include a third person with you, when you go tasting. This should be someone who can give you an unbiased and frank opinion on whether they think the food is good or not. You can assess the caterer’s attention to detail and reliability, based on the service you are offered. If you like what you taste, but would like certain modifications, check with the caterer on whether they can customize the dish as per your taste. A good caterer wouldn’t hesitate to take on your suggestions, unless it means overhauling the entire dish.

With these tips, you have all the information you need to successfully choose your wedding caterer. You will find plenty of helpful tips on deciding your wedding menu in our previous posts here and here. Apart from the food, you should also pay attention to the beverages served on the day, and the china that is used for the service. It is only when all these come together in tandem, that your overall meal planning will be a be a total success. Continue visiting us at Best for Bride, your one-stop bridal destination, for more valuable tips, advice and inputs on planning the perfect wedding.