January 28, 2020

Guest writer Michelle Cousins gives tips on catering for your big day.


With engagement season upon us, we reached out to the best event and wedding planners in Utah to see what tips they had to make the catering at your big day the best it can be! Follow our 9 week series and see what they all had to say!

Michelle Cousins from Michelle Leo Events 

Michelle Cousins, owner of Michelle Leo Events, is an award-winning event designer and planner enjoying her 10th year of business. Michelle's company has been recognized by Vogue, Brides Magazine and Martha Stewart as the best wedding and event planning team in Utah and the company recently received it's 9th Best of State Award for event planning and bridal services. Michelle loves planning events in the Rockies but as an avid scuba diver, you'll find her spending her free time in the Caribbean exploring the underwater world with her husband, Michael.

Make sure to discuss the wedding cake with your caterers.

The wedding cake is often provided by a specialist other than your catering team. While most caterers plan on cutting and serving your cake (along with providing the needed rentals/disposables to serve it), this service is something you need to verify your caterer is, in fact, planning to provide (never assume). And, be aware that additional costs may apply.

Our planners are often asked if it's necessary to hire a separate bar-tending service outside of the hired caterer.

Unless this is a unique requirement of the venue, we suggest allowing your caterer to handle all bar services. This way, all food and beverage services are provided under one contract. Furthermore, your caterer has a plethora of experience in determining what your alcohol quantities should be in ratio to your guest count. They are also knowledgeable of any and all state laws associated with alcohol services. Speaking of which, Utah has many unique laws regarding alcohol services so make sure to discuss these with your caterer to gain a firm understanding of what is and isn't legal when it comes to bar services at your event.

Don’t eliminate a caterer from your shortlist just because you dislike the sample menu on their website or the one provided in your initial proposal.   

Understand that you CAN customize your menu with a caterer (they expect it), and the first menu is simply a starting point to get ideas churning. Schedule time to sit down with your prospective catering team to discuss your tastes and preferences. In turn, they'll have many questions for you that will enable them to create a custom menu based on your likes and must-haves. Keep in mind these experts can help provide you with many options and suggestions that you otherwise would never consider so utilize them as a valuable resource in customizing the dining experience!

Design a menu that will enhance the overall event design.

At MLE, the custom event design proposals we provide our clients include suggested cocktails and food presentation ideas because we understand that the culinary experience is a crucial part of the overall guest experience. Food is as much design as any place setting or floral arrangement so don't forget to design your menu with the same care and discuss the visual presentation with your caterer to ensure things align with your overall event vision.

Respect the Process!

(This tip applies across the board regarding all vendor processes). You are responsible for making sure you understand a vendor's process once explained (ask questions if you need clarification- they want you to understand), and then allow them the space to do what they do best! Planners and caterers have executed thousands of weddings. They have perfected processes over the many years they have been in business and are pros at soliciting the right information and asking the right questions. Their goal is to provide you an incredible event design, the most delicious menu, and the best overall experience at a price that fits within your budget, but you have to let them! This requires faith and patience on the client's behalf as great things don't happen overnight. Don’t try to skip steps or rush your hired professionals, respect their process. Be patient and let them show you what they can do. They'll put their best foot forward when you trust them and allow them the time to do so! Don't forget to check in next week to see more tips!

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year