Do any of these situations sound familiar from any wedding events you’ve attended recently? It’s time to toast the newlyweds but less than half of guests have a glass of champagne because only one server is on hand to distribute glasses to 120 people. The head table is happily eating their appetizer while everyone else has been waiting at least 20 minutes for their food. The wedding caterer runs out of entrées despite the bride submitting her final guarantee 2 days before the wedding. You requested a dairy-free entrée but were given a starter salad with chunks of blue cheese. These things happen all the time, despite the most well-intentioned planning efforts. The reality that much of an event planner’s success comes down to the partners they opt to work with, is a difficult pill to swallow. Sourcing and connecting with wedding suppliers can be a long process by the time you’ve Google’d (and Google’d and Google’d) to do your research, found the right contact to reach out to, provided them with your event details, received a sales package or proposal and then met in person to evaluate fit. Even after you’ve done all this leg work, you’re still taking a huge risk and if anything goes wrong it will take place in front of your guests. The purpose of our wedding planning reviews this month, has been to share our little black book of the best, most trusted event suppliers to help you invest less time in the research process so you can get down to the business of evaluating fit by asking the tough questions like:
- How many weddings have you executed in the last year?
- Do you specialize in any specific type of food or service? (ex. ethnic buffets, formal plated dinners etc.)
- What’s your average menu price and are you willing to work with me to develop a menu based on my budget?
- What does your menu price include? Gratuity? Linens? Service equipment?
- How do you manage food allergies and ensure guests get the right food selections? Do you have experience preparing kosher, halal, vegetarian, vegan or dairy-free items?
- Do you use all fresh, not frozen, food items? Is everything made from scratch?
- Who will oversee service the day-of and what is their level of experience?
- How many service staff would be scheduled for my wedding day and what will they wear? Hint: the best caterers will always prefer to use their own staff over venue staff to ensure the quality of service is up to their discerning standards.
- Do you have photos of past wedding events so I can see what your standard buffet set-up looks like?
- Do you have 2 references you can provide and would they mind if I reached out to ask about their experience working with you?
- Can I schedule a tasting to sample some of the items I’m interested in ordering?
Food and beverage will likely be the most expensive part of your wedding planning, so to help avoid any food and beverage disappointment on your big day, we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 favourite wedding caterers as part of our wedding planning reviews series.
One of our team members was at a James Bond themed cocktail party last year and said the food experience was so amazing she just had to know who did the food. That’s when she met Chef Laura. Not only was the food delicious, but every aspect of the food stations were so carefully thought out that even the most discerning event planner eye couldn’t help but be impressed. From a 007 shooter luge to service staff perfectly dressed as Bond girls, the details made for an unforgettable evening. A member of the Green Table Network, a program that provides a framework and practices for sustainable food service, Chef Laura is committed to reducing her impact on the environment.
Location: Vancouver, BC
Additional Info: https://www.eventsage.com/vancouver/caterer/chef-laura
Cocktails & Canapes
Started by Chef Brett Turner, a local chef formerly involved in menu development for the first Browns Socialhouse in North Vancouver and Charles Bar in downtown Vancouver, Cocktails & Canapes offers globally inspired dishes with a local twist. Using edible flowers, cedar planks and interesting vessels to hold loose food items, your wedding guests will be wowed by the distinctive culinary experience this team delivers.
Location: Vancouver, BC
Forage Outside Catering
If you’ve had the opportunity to dine at Forage in the Listel Hotel, then you are well aware of the love and dedication poured into every ingredient on the menu and also their commitment to sustainable dining. Considered a pioneer of responsible restaurant management, through zero waste efforts, reduction of energy consumption and support of local farmers and fishers, Chef Whittaker’s team makes everything from scratch, including the delicious dill pickles, fruit preserves, zesty mustard and sweet, savoury ketchup. Forage Outside Catering takes everything we love about the restaurant and delivers it to your event on a silver platter – ok not literally, a silver platter would be too stuffy for these guys, they’d prefer a reclaimed wood serving platter.
Location: Vancouver, BC
Additional Info: https://www.eventsage.com/vancouver/caterer/forage-catering
There are so many reasons why we love the team at Railtown Catering, but perhaps the most encompassing is their obsessive commitment to perfection. Like us, they totally get that perfectionism is a skill to be developed and valued not a neurotic hinderance. With a team of chefs, mixologists and service professionals, you can depend on the team for much more than just delicious food. It’s their goal to have your guests walk away from your event raving about the overall amazing experience this full-service food and beverage company offers.
Location: Vancouver, BC
Additional Info: https://www.eventsage.com/vancouver/caterer/railtown-catering
Louis Gervais Fine Foods and Catering
The person behind the name, Chef Gervais is a European trained, passionate, fine dining culinary master, who’s mission is to make 5-diamond catering accessible and entertaining for everyone. With an outside the box mentality, dynamic spirit, and refined approach, Louis Gervais Catering will custom design a menu perfect for your wedding day by incorporating yours and your fiancé’s specific tastes and preferences. Combine this with their high standards for excellence, creative presentation, and menus that span multiple cultures and you have everything needed to amaze your guests.
Location: North Vancouver, BC
When considering catering partners for your wedding day, it is important to share as many details as you can upfront. What is your event vision, theme, budget, reception venue, dietary restrictions? These are the details that inspire a Chef’s creative process and ensure the company is a good ‘fit’ for your needs. Don’t shy away from difficult discussions because it’s these conversations that distinguish a truly great partner from a mediocre one. The right partner will relish the opportunity to develop custom menus, work within the budget you’re most comfortable with and showcase their food during a tasting. If you get any sense that the catering company under consideration is not open to these things, then it’s best to move on to another partner. You didn’t settle in your selection of a life partner so why settle for an un-inspired caterer on your wedding day.
Are we missing any of your favourite partners in our wedding planning reviews? Tell us about them in the comments below.