Wedding Guide: Catering tips 101

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— Bill Hamil catered his own wedding. Twenty nine years later, and with three decades of catering experience under his belt, the Steamboat Meat & Seafood proprietor says he wouldn’t recommend catering your own wedding.

“Pick an experienced caterer who can step up to the plate and make your wedding an outstanding event,” Hamil says.

He adds that picking a theme can enhance any reception, and there are several to choose from. From a Tuscan spread to a more modest barbecue, Hamil says a caterer can do as much, or as little, as a couple wants. But finding one with experience is key.

Couples should budget not only for the price tag of the food, but also for costs associated with renting linens and tents, paying wages for catering staff at the reception, sales tax and a gratuity for the service.

And Hamil says the worst thing that can happen is to not have enough food. “Using an experienced caterer can make the difference between barely feeding everyone and not having enough,” he says.

The Drunken Onion owner Ben Stroock agrees, and adds that he likes to begin his conversations with couples by getting a sense for what type of food they personally like.

“As far as menu planning goes, I tell them ‘It’s your day. Make sure it’s what you want to remember, and don’t try to plan for every dietary restriction in the crowd,’” he says.

Stroock recommends that instead of ordering and paying for food by the piece, allow the caterer to be responsible for deciding how much food to order and have them charge for a meal by the person.

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