LDS wedding reception catering quote
Photo Courtesy of Whitney Lewis Photography

You’ve found a handful of wedding caterers in your area on You’ve read their reviews, spoken to friends about their recommendations for a caterer and maybe even checked in on a few companies’ standings with the Better Business Bureau. Are you ready to start contacting wedding caterers for quotes?

When to Find a Wedding Caterer

Brides should start thinking about catering soon after they select a wedding date, and generally book six to nine months in advance. Though it’s possible to book a caterer before the reception venue, most wait until after because it may affect the caterer’s price or availability.

What You Need to Know Before Calling Event Caterers

Before you start contacting wedding caterers, you’ll need to know several things about your wedding reception or the caterer will be able to tell you very little. Be ready with these details about your wedding catering needs:

• Wedding reception date and time
• Number of reception guests (including any extra meals for DJ, band, photographer, etc.)
• Reception location (they will need to know the travel distance and whether the venue has commercial kitchen access or not)
• Your budget (the current industry average is $14 to $39 per person, depending on the food and service you select)
• Type of service wanted: full table service, buffet with set-up only, or buffet with service
• Types of food wanted (if you have a preference for a certain ethnicity or dish)
• Whether you want hors d’oeuvres or appetizers before the meal
• Whether you want desserts served in addition to the wedding cake
• Whether you will have your wedding cake made by the caterer or whether they will cut and serve a cake brought in by you
• Type of drink service desired

LDS Wedding Reception Drink Service

punch and water at an LDS wedding reception
Photo Courtesy of Amber Katrina Photography

To have or not to have an open bar? This can be a touchy issue if you have non-members in your family. The understood expectation outside the Church is that wedding receptions, particularly formal ones, will host an open bar.

How you handle this issue is up to you, but it’s certainly acceptable to feature a juice and soda bar if you’re uncomfortable serving alcohol to your non-LDS guests. (One perk of a “dry bar” is that alcohol is expensive – eliminating a major cost on your wedding day is a good thing!)

You’ll also need to work out a non-alcoholic option for you and your LDS guests if you’re having a traditional wedding toast, such as punch or non-alcoholic champagne.

Wedding Catering Menu Items

Most professional event catering services offer “package” pricing for their menu items. There is generally a limited selection of two to five packages, each with a complete list of complementary appetizers to dessert.

catering for LDS weddings
Photo Courtesy of Whitney Lewis Photography

Choosing from a few designated packages makes decision-making easier for you and pricing easier to understand. But if you want specific food items you’ll need a caterer who is willing to accommodate special requests and prepare made-to-order food.

There are also buffet packages and appetizer packages available from most caterers.

Extra Wedding Catering Charges and Fees

Whatever you do when you’re getting an event catering quote, don’t get the price per plate and hang up the phone! There’s a lot more to ask about, since the figure almost never includes:
• Tax
• Administrative fees and/or gratuities
• Labor and cook time
• Wait staff service
• Kitchen or buffet set-up and breakdown
• Rental items like linens, dishes, and flatware
• Overtime charges
• Cake cutting fees

Also make sure to ask about the caterer’s payment schedule and cancellation policy just in case an emergency causes you to cancel or postpone the wedding – most caterers charge a one-third deposit to secure the wedding date that is non-refundable in the event of a cancellation.

Before you’re ready to pick up the phone or send an email to request a wedding catering quote, have all the essential stats for your wedding reception on paper in front of you. Know what you want and what you are willing and able to pay. Make sure to ask about menu selection and especially for the “out the door” price with all extra charges included. And don’t feel shy to pick items off the itemized list that you don’t want to pay for – it’s your money!

♥ Jenny Evans
Exclusively for
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Catering for LDS weddings, LDS reception, LDS open houses

LDS weddings, LDS reception, LDS open houses

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