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Wedding: We Have a Caterer!

by Meghann on February 28, 2012

Two weeks ago – with a signed contract, a hefty deposit check, and a firm handshake – Derek and I secured our wedding caterer.

Woo hoo. One more thing I need to mark off of my planning to-do list!

  • VenueCheck!
  • Caterer – Check!

But, let’s back up and see how we got there.

First of all, I <3 WeddingWire.com! Seriously, the best review site out there.

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Before I even started planning my own wedding, I read a great tip on a local wedding planner’s blog that suggested, when researching wedding vendors, to look for ones that are already familiar with your venue and have worked with weddings there before. I thought this was a great piece of advice that made perfect sense – this way the vendor is already familiar with set-up and take-down procedures and know their way around the venue. Perfect.

So when I first discovered Birdsong Barn last month, I began researching Birdsong Barn on sites like WeddingWire.com and began tracking down brides who were married in Bridsong in the past and researching which caterers they worked with. I also spoke with Birdsong’s owner and got her recommendations as well.

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(source)

Some brides had worked with local restaurants (which is a great tip for saving money!), but since I was saving money already on the price of the venue, I wanted to splurge a tiny bit with the hands-on approach that a full service caterer provides. I wanted a caterer that would do their own setting up and taking down of the buffet area, provide a bartender for the open bar, and not tack on a million ‘hidden costs’ on top of everything (i.e. no cake cutting fees).

I spoke with three local caterers, but there was one that really sold me on her bubbly personality and what she had to offer.

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A Chef’s Touch is a local catering company located just down the road in Port St. John and came highly recommended by two previous Birdsong brides I had emailed back and forth with. Her prices were reasonable, the menu options were extensive, and she prided herself on having ‘no hidden costs.’ Exactly everything I was looking for.

I spoke with the owner, Robin, on the phone before Derek and I had even officially signed with Birdsong and it was really her ‘we’ll take care of everything for you, so you can enjoy your day’ attitude that sold me not only on her as a caterer, but on Birdsong as a venue. With Robin, I knew pulling off an almost-from-scratch wedding at Bridsong would be possible.

However, when I called Robin a couple of weeks later to book her for our wedding, she informed me she had just booked another event for that exact date. Seriously? Man, things book quickly in the wedding world!

Luckily, Robin also informed me that her company had enough resources to have two events for that date, but – that’s it – no more than two, so we had to move quickly to make sure our wedding was the second event and not the outed third.

Derek and I weren’t comfortable officially booking a caterer without at least trying the food first, so we pulled out our planners and booked a tasting for the Thursday before Ben’s wedding at 11:00am. We were instructed to come hungry.

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And I’m glad we did. Robin fed us well.

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Since we really have no idea what we would like to serve for our wedding just yet, Robin had us taste some of the dishes she was working on for a family reunion event that evening. We sampled a stuffed chicken, maple glazed carrots, roasted zucchini and yellow squash, twice-baked potato, and eggplant parmesan.

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The tasting experience was interesting.

I made the mistake of trying the maple-glazed carrots at first and – blah – didn’t like them. Panic began to set in as I feared I wouldn’t like any of it. Then I tried a zucchini and swooned. The roasted zucchini was cut in a chunky style (instead of sliced) and was amazing. Zucchini and yellow squash is so easy to overcook, but these roasted chunks were perfect. In fact, everything else on the plate was simply amazing. I’m just not a fan of the maple flavoring in general, which is why the carrots didn’y taste right to me – everyone else loved them.

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For dessert, Robin treated us to an assortment of petit fours.

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While we ate, Robin gave another overview of the services her catering company would provide on the day of the wedding and explained the process of how everything would work. She continued to sell me on her “we’ll take care of everything for you attitude” and I began to feel confident in what she had to offer. I was sold.

By the end of the tasting, Derek and I handed over a deposit and crossed ‘find a caterer’ off of our list. Sweet!

Now all we have to do is figure out our menu.

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Which is a task that sounds so simple, but it’s not. We want something seasonal that fits in our winter theme. Anyone have any suggestions or ideas of what that could be?!?!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica@TWB February 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Venue and food are two biggies – you’re making great progress.

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2 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups February 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm

We’re doing mini cupcakes instead of a big wedding cake for our December wedding, and one of our flavors is hot chocolate. It’s so cute, complete with little mini marshmallows on top. You could do ham and stuffing or other festive food. We’re doing red wine braised short ribs and crab cakes. I actually just posted about our whole wedding menu!
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3 MrsSwan February 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm

The first thing that pops in my mind with winter is some type of winter squash. Hearty beefy would be my second and Derek would probably agree since you say he loves steak which means beef to me. LOL
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4 Chelsea February 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I’m doing fall and a totally different part of the country than you, ha, so for us that meant looking at what’s in season in New York that time of year, and we’re working with a lot of apples (in our signature drink and one of our entrees), cranberries (salad and entree), and pumpkin (entree and soup). But, for you, those wouldn’t work as much if you’re looking to keep it seasonal. Here’s a good guide!
http://localfoods.about.com/od/searchbyregion/a/floridaseasons.htm

Congrats on finding a caterer you’re happy with. Once you get photographer and DJ (if you’re using one) done, you’ve got the biggest parts handled!

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5 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope February 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Sounds like things are coming along great! :) When I think of winter, I think of hot chocolate, and comfort food. Maybe try adding some of those things to your wedding? I’m getting married in August, so I’m planning on having light summery type fare at our wedding.
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6 Cait's Plate February 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Yay congrats!! So exciting :)
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7 Caitlin @ Chasing A Mile February 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I loved using WeddingWire too. Great vendor reviews. The food tasting was one of my favorite parts of wedding planning! Sorry, I have no ideas on a winter menu.
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8 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat February 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Oh my goodness, this looks like so much fun! I think the caterer is probably going to be a bigger decision for me when I get married than the dress LOL! Oh, and I would have gobbled up your carrots for you in a heartbeat because that’s just the kinda gal I am. ;) Good luck choosing the menu!
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9 Kate February 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm

We went very Florida/southern and as seasonal as we could for our winter wedding — stone crabs, citrus-heavy salads, shrimp and grits, pork with greens, and lots of other good stuff. Many of our guests were coming from up north, though, so we wanted to push the “YAY! You’re in FL in January and there’s no snow on the ground here!” angle as much as we could.

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10 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

For a winter theme I immediately thought of some sort of red meat, and maybe potatoes or squash!
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11 Amanda February 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Congrats on picking a caterer! I’m in the middle of planning my menu right now. Have you thought about doing carving stations? I think they would be a great seasonal option with some roasted veggies…we’re trying to keep our main entrees simple and focus more on making the dips and sides the creative elements. Good luck!
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12 Madeline - Greens and Jeans February 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm

We are struggling with that too! Our venue has an amazing chef who can pretty much make anything we want… we just need to figure out what that is!
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13 Chris February 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Since you’ll be getting married around the holiday season (just after, right, in Jan?) I think you should keep in mind that people will have just gone through two/three biggies as far as traditional, heavy meals go and do something different. I love the idea of fish or shellfish… or do something lighter with the traditional choices – chicken with pineapple mango sauce, or something similar. Don’t be afraid to mix it up!

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14 Poptartyogini February 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Yeah a wedding post. I can take or leave the weights but weddings are always up my alley. I’m so glad your caterer is hands on and all you have to do is enjoy. My cousin was putting away folding chairs at her wedding and I was thinking ‘there is no way…’. Glad to see another one off the list!
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15 Jules @ La Petite Maison Verte February 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I think you should talk with the caterer and find out what she does best, and serve that! If you are set on wanting to serve a winter-type meal then just tell her that and let her give you her opinion on what SHE can do WELL. Explain how you want your guests to feel and the overall vibe you’re going for: warm and cozy, or chic and elegant, or homestyle and simple, etc. The caterer is the expert at what she does so if you’re not exactly sure what food you want to serve, she would be the perfect person to give you some ideas, since she is the one who knows what she is capable of doing flawlessly. I definitely wouldn’t come to her with a specific menu in mind and be closed-off to her suggestions. Good luck :-)
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16 Hangry Pants February 29, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Fun!

I agree that you should go with what they think they do best rather than making or make sure you sample everything first. I think if you get seasonal stuff you can’t go wrong! Wintery food? Hmm I’m not sure. I think of hearty soups and other hot foods. Good luck!

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17 Samantha February 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Hmmmm. :) Winter Dinner. Winter Squash. Pork or Turkey always strike that Winter Chord with me. A roast turkey and maybe an apple glazed pork. Have you thought about going the holiday dinner route? Stuffing, cranberries…the whole nine? Also, soup could be fun for a winter wedding. I love soup, though. I’d probably have it at my wedding in the summer. Or, if you wanna change up after a holiday season, maybe a craving satation with less tradition roasts. Lamb maybe. I’m stills saying pork. :) Or Derek loves steak right? Ive had some great steak roasts at weddings. I think the food should reflect the couple and your tastes. So I would start there. What are your favorite foods? What are his?

Hope this helps. :)
~Sam
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