Taking the Stress Out of Choosing a Wedding Caterer

When I am helping brides and grooms plan their wedding, we probably spend more time on catering than anything else. I thoroughly enjoy this because I am a real food person and one of the joys of my job is the opportunity to work with the caterers who are on our approved list here at Pratt Mansions Fifth Avenue.

That might immediately prompt some questions: “Approved list of caterers? What’s that? Don’t you have an exclusive caterer at Pratt Mansions?”

Well, let me explain and, I hope, shed some light on the best way to find the caterer that’s right for you.

When you are researching locations for your wedding, you may very well look at restaurants or hotels that provide both the location for your wedding as well as the food. When you are provided with an estimate for your wedding, or a price per person, it’s all inclusive.

Here at Pratt, we work a little differently. If you are considering us for your wedding, it’s typically because you are researching the idea of an elegant wedding in a private home. You’re looking for something different and the elegance and location speaks to your vision. Because we have an approved list of caterers, this will allow you  to customize your menu and your event as well.  Pratt has a set facility fee, but we don’t have a catering staff on site or an exclusive caterer, so the price of catering is separate.

That gives you a lot of flexibility. New York has some of the country’s top caterers who are happy to help you consider all their creative options for menu selection and event ideas as well.

To get you started on your selection, I provide you with the list of caterers that are approved to work at Pratt and you can call or email them to discuss menu ideas. These are caterers who have worked at Pratt many times before and have done a beautiful job. I have complete confidence they will arrive on time, the wait staff will be professional and polite, they are familiar with the challenges of working in an historic location and the food, of course, will be impeccable.

Many people get a little uncomfortable at the idea of contacting caterers. Don’t be. The caterers I work with are all very experienced. Once you provide them with your vision, you will be surprised at how they can elaborate on it. This should be exciting and creative for both you and the caterer.

Of course, price is always a major factor.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a sense of your budget before contacting a caterer.  Without this, the caterer won’t know if they’re creating a menu for sandwiches or filet mignon.

There is no question that catering in New York is expensive. And you might be surprised to learn that the food itself is just one part of it.  Your caterer will be preparing for your event long before it occurs. On the day of, they will be delivering the food, liquor, linens, glassware, silverware etc., setting up hours before you arrive and cleaning up hours after you leave. And while the caterers on our list come in at all different price points, they are on the list because they do a wonderful job, not because of their price.

It’s always a little awkward to open up the discussion of pricing with a caterer and rather than getting off on the wrong foot, take some time to educate yourself about what catering costs entail.  A great way to do that is to talk to recently married friends who may have chosen a similar venue with an approved list. They will likely love to relive their planning days and have an excuse to talk about it.  A discreet question like, ”I loved your menu at the wedding. Was the open bar included in the price per person?” is a great way to get the conversation going. Remember, no one is expecting you to be an expert on all things wedding, but a little information can go a long way in these first steps.

Keep in mind that deciding on your venue is the biggest decision you make when planning a wedding.  It sets the tone for the entire event. It’s important that the people who are part of that event are enthusiastic and approachable.  Yes, guiding you through this is a job but those of us who do it love the creative process and the satisfaction of knowing you and your friends and family will have a memory for a lifetime.