9 Tips For Choosing The Best Wedding Reception Catering

SOHO TACO - San Diego Botanical Garden - Wedding Reception Catering - Preparing the Cart
Preparing the taco cart for a beautiful wedding reception at the San Diego Botanical Gardens.

Let’s get down to brass tacks: planning a wedding is expensive. It’s also stressful when you have a limited budget, but it can be done.

Much of the time you just need to have your wits about you, do your research and consider your options carefully. Rushing into major decisions regarding your big day can only lead to one thing: regret.

Let this blog be your guide on how to choose the best wedding catering services to suit your style and budget…

Wedding Catering Services 101: What to Consider

The reality is that the catering on your wedding day will consume roughly a quarter to even half of your wedding budget. Once you’ve accepted this fact, it’ll be easier to budget accordingly for your catering service.

Your food and drink will be one of the stand-out memories for both you and your guests on your wedding day, so it’s only fair that you do it justice.

But before you sign into a catering contract, here’s what to consider when choosing wedding caterers:


SOHO TACO - San Diego Botanical Garden - Wedding Reception Catering - Ordering Tacos
A happy wedding guest places an order for one of our delicious tacos.

1. Catering Rates

Every caterer is different and will, therefore, charge different rates. But obviously some of these rates are likely to be similar based on your local area and local competition.

What’s most important to consider is whether you want a buffet-style dinner or a sit-down dinner, as this is where rates can vary greatly. Ultimately, your caterer should be willing to accommodate your budget where possible.

You’ll need to plan your budget and ask whether a caterer has the right pricing options to fit in with this.

2. Beware of ”Hidden” Charges

Most caterers present their costs as per person charges. But it’s important to go over exactly what this per person rate includes. Much of the time, it does not include additional costs such as tax and gratuity, also called a service charge.

You may also be charged separately for items such as hors d’oeuvres, drinks, the supply of crockery, cutlery and glassware. Some caterers also charge extra for traveling to your venue.

Just make sure the quote your caterer supplies you are itemized, inclusive, and detailed of all costs.

SOHO TACO Gourmet Taco Catering - Wedding - San Diego Botanic Garden - Grilling
Beauty surrounding the taco cart moments before the wedding reception.

3. Ask What the Caterer Supplies

Wedding caterers supply more than just food. Some services may include linens, crockery, cutlery, serving stations, furniture, and even their own cooking equipment.

In which case, it’s important to ask what exactly your caterer supplies and how much extra they charge for these important wedding items. Generally, a caterer that does supply these additional extras is extremely convenient. But just be aware that there is always an additional cost.

SOHO TACO Gourmet Taco Catering - San Diego Botanical Garden - Grilling Carnitas
Preparing a mouth-watering batch of savory carnitas for hungry wedding reception guests.

4. Where Does Your Caterer Prefer to Cook?

Before you hire a caterer, do a little homework on where exactly your food will be prepared. If the food is being prepared outside of your wedding venue, ask about how it will be transported and reheated for your reception.

Don’t be shy to ask about timings and how early on the caterers prepare the food i.e. how fresh it will be on the day?

5. Is a Clean-Up Service Included?

This is an important question as the post-wedding clean-up can be quite a tiring job. A caterer that includes a set of staff dedicated to removing and cleaning dishes, linens, and furniture is a massive bonus.

It’s also important to consider as you don’t want to be left with additional expenses for a clean-up service or the hassle of doing it yourself!

SOHO TACO Gourmet Taco Catering - San Diego Botanic Garden - Wedding - Albondiga Appetizers - Chipotle Salsa
Adding a delightful coast of salsa to our albondigas appetizers.

6. Avoid Out-of-Season Foods

Essentially, this is a great tip to keep your catering costs low and on-budget.

Ordering foods or ingredients that are out-of-season and difficult to come by will only do damage to your budget. You can always talk to your caterer about similar options and what they recommend if you are dead-set on a certain product.

With enough catering expertise, they should be able to supply you with cost-saving alternatives.

7. Don’t Neglect Dietary Requirements

This is an important part of your menu planning and should not be overlooked. Ideally, you want to keep everyone happy on your wedding day.

While you may only have a handful of vegetarian or vegan guests, bear in mind that many people may actually prefer the vegetarian option. Even if they are meat-eaters.

To add to this, many people may forget to mark down their meal preferences before your wedding and end up choosing the vegetarian option. With this in mind, always make sure you have catered well for the vegetarian food option.

SOHO TACO Gourmet Taco Catering - San Diego Botanical Garden - Salsa & Condiments Table
Offering a vibrant selection of condiments and appetizers to help wedding guests customize their own masterpiece.

8. A Buffet Is Not Always Cheaper

This may seem unlikely but a buffet-style dinner is not always the most cost-effective option. You are almost always guaranteed to have leftover food by the end of the meal, especially when it comes to dessert.

It may be a little more worthwhile catering for the exact number of meals and paying only for the food that was prepared and served. No more, no less.

9. Dessert Shouldn’t Be a Priority

While you may have a sweet tooth and assume that everyone loves dessert, the truth is that most people forget about dessert at weddings.

By the time it’s served, they are too busy dancing, chatting or drinking. Or they could have filled themselves up on wedding cake beforehand.

If you’d still like dessert to be featured, why not opt for a small dessert station that doubles as a late-night snack stand? This could be something as simple as donuts, cupcakes, or gourmet cookies, tea and coffee.

SOHO TACO Gourmet Taco Catering - San Diego Botanic Garden - Wedding - Rice & Tacos
The lovely bride creating her own wonderful taco creation by customizing it with Spanish rice.

Find Gourmet Wedding Catering with Soho Taco

If you’re looking for a relaxed, easy-going style of catering, but with a critically-acclaimed gourmet twist, then Soho Taco is the caterer for you!

We offer wedding catering services throughout Orange County, Los Angeles County, and Southern California. Dive into our delicious gourmet tacos, served from our very own beautifully appointed food truck.

Looking for more? Check out our catering menu here.

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