Catering is a such an important detail of every wedding. Not only do brides and grooms need to be concerned with cuisine to provide their guests but, there are also several other aspects that are important for couples to keep in consideration when working with their caterer of choice. In order to help Pure Luxe Brides and Grooms, we have reached out to Salthouse Catering for advice concerning catering for the biggest day of the bride and grooms life. Salthouse Catering is a catering company located in Charleston that serves clients throughout the lowcountry. Executive Chef Todd Mazurek brings amazing cuisine creations to life for clients, while Tanya Gurrieri is involved with the catering side as well as the marketing tasks. In order for couples to be prepared for organizing, planning, and reaching out to their caterer, Tanya has provided couples with helpful advice. This information will be a great reference for all couples who are having questions concerning tastings, meetings, and other catering related issues.
How far in advance should the bride and groom book there caterer?
We’re happy to speak with clients 12-18 months prior to their wedding date. Some popular dates book quickly so it never hurts to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
How far in advance should the couple attend tastings? Are tastings necessary?
Tastings are necessary only if the couple feels like they have questions about certain menu items. We like to have a menu proposed and have the couple narrow down their catering choices to no more than two companies to be able to do a tasting and make their decision. As a catering professional, it is imperative that we educate the couple on protocol for tastings. Tastings are a tremendous investment of a company’s time and money and shouldn’t be used as just a time to sample food.
How many tastings and/or meetings do the bride and groom usually have with their caterer prior to the wedding day?
One tasting and as many meetings as needed for the couple to feel confident. Typically there’s an initial meeting, a tasting or menu meeting, then a site visit to the venue. The rest of the correspondence is usually via email and phone to ensure all details are confirmed.
Should the couple reach out to the caterer in advance for details on how they would like the food arranged on buffet tables or plates?
Yes, that’s part of the menu meeting. We want to ensure that their vision is met with our advance planning.
Should the caterer be provided with a floor plan and table arrangement plan prior to the wedding?
Absolutely. We like to be involved in the site visit so we know where everything will be set up from guest seating to load in details and kitchen location.
When should the couple have their final menu selections?
We like the menu to be confirmed no less than 30 days prior to the event so that all of the other details (buffet placement, décor, rentals and such) can be confirmed during the last month of planning.
Typically, are deposits required in advance with caterers?
Yes, we require 25% deposit at the time of booking to secure our services. It doesn’t lock the client into a specific menu, just an estimate of food and labor costs at that point.
Do most catering services for a wedding consist of an all-inclusive price, or are they priced individually depending on the types of food chosen?
Salthouse likes to write menus specific to the event needs, based on the couple’s tastes and other variables of the event (i.e kitchen rental needs, bar service, etc). We talk pricing in a few terms… menu price, bar price, rental costs, service charge and tax… which all add up to an inclusive price based on the number of guests estimated.
What role does the caterer play on the day of the wedding?
Depending on the depth of our service and whether we coordinated the rentals – we would be responsible for setting up any buffet tables, setting guest tables if a seated dinner is to be served and of course, setting up all food service equipment to be ready for service.
How far in advance on the day of the wedding will the caterer arrive on site?
While a good bit of our work is done the day before and day of the event before we even arrive on site, we typically arrive 3 hours prior to food service starting to allow plenty of time for load in, table setting, final food prep. We are always ready and smiling 15 minutes prior to event start time given the chance guests will arrive early.
Where will the food be prepared? Do most caterers prepare dishes in advance, or arrive earlier on site to prepare items? Which do you suggest for brides?
We are proud of our restaurant quality food and presentation and to meet those standards, we typically prep and start food at our kitchen but always finish food on location at the event “a la minute” (or at the last minute) to ensure freshness and quality.
How far in advance should the couple give the caterer a head count of guests to expect at the wedding?
We ask for final guest count 5 business days prior to the wedding date. That gives us time to update rental orders, confirm staffing ratios, make appropriate orders for food and beverage and give a final invoice to the client before the big day! In some cases, there are last minute changes that we can always accommodate. Chef prepares a 5% overage for all food items to be safe if the count should change one way or the other.
Should the caterer be in communication with the rental company to talk about plates, silverware, and other items being used?
Yes. If we coordinate rentals, then we have a handle on what’s needed and place the order ourselves. If the wedding planner has coordinated rentals, we work together in advance to request appropriate items. I always request a copy of the rental order in advance so that I can review and make sure we have all items necessary for proper food service.
Are there certain facts and details that are unique to Charleston that brides should pay close attention to when hiring a caterer?
Charleston is a very wedding savvy market and thus there are a lot of choices in catering for a bride. The couple should ask about company history and make sure that they are comfortable with their sales representative. Meeting in person is always the best way to gage the fit between a couple and a company.
What additional tips and information can you provide brides as they begin booking and communicating with caterers?
It is the caterers’ job to educate the client and advise on what works best for their particular wedding environment. Outdoor weddings dictate planning that might not be necessary for an indoor function and vice versa. It’s the job of an experienced catering company to offer appropriate food and service for the surroundings.
Pure Luxe Bride would like to extend a thank you to Tanya Gurrieri with Salt House Catering for all of her helpful advice for brides looking to book and work with a caterer. All of the detailed information, as well as amazing pictures of delicious cuisine, were provided by Salt House Catering.