Getting engaged is a rush. It seems you fall in love and then slide irrevocably toward the wedding. But once you’re engaged the idea of planning a wedding can seem daunting. By taking each aspect of wedding and reception planning one at a time, you can, so to speak, eat the wedding one bite at a time. Here are some tips for how to find a good caterer without going insane.

Finding the right caterer is a matter of finding out what you want. First, detail a budget. Figure out what you are able to spend and what is normal to spend on catering in your area. You’ll find this number by asking friends and acquaintances who have been through the wedding gauntlet recently and by looking online. With this information, draw up a budget for what you can afford, both per person and as a whole.

Next, take an inventory of your likes and dislikes, just the two of you. Where do you already eat? What are your absolute favorites and what can’t you stand? If you could have anything at all, what would it be? Ambrosia and caviar, barbecue and pineapple, write it all down. Don’t censor this step because you think it might not be appropriate. Just get your dreams down on paper. You can edit them later.

It is a good idea to have some concept of who you will be inviting to your wedding before you choose a caterer. You’ll need to know how many people to estimate, which will affect the budget and the type of catering you will need. You’ll also want to make a list of special needs of your wedding guests. Take into account allergies, special diets, and preferences. wedding catering nj

Next, take some time and figure out what kind of wedding you are having and how that will affect the food. Is your wedding very formal? Is it intimate? Is it quirky? Ethnic? All of these categories will have their own kind of food. Once you narrow your wedding to a broad category–there is no need to pigeonhole it completely at this point–you can start looking for a caterer.

Ask around. Many of the best businesses, both in the wedding industry and out, are promoted by word-of-mouth. Think on the weddings you’ve been to or heard about that are similar in scope to what you want to do with your wedding. Ask the wedding couple who they used.

Once you’ve exhausted the word-of-mouth arena, move on to the phone book and internet. Perform searches for wedding caterers in your area and view their web pages. Make a list of the caterers nearby that you think might fit your needs.

Make some phone calls. This step can save you a lot of legwork. When you get the caterer on the phone, ask them some questions. Ask what size of parties they usually cater to, if they can work around the allergies and special diets your wedding guests will be bringing with them, and about how they can work with your wedding type. Ask about their cancellation and refund policies, about taxes and gratuities, and if linens, dishes, and flatware are provided. Ask if they also do wedding cakes. Ask anything here, and the next steps get easier.

Make appointments for food tasting with the caterers you like. This is a really fun part. They will trot out their best creations for you to taste. You can sit down with the chef and really get a feel for whether or not they can give you what you need for your special day. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you really want and how their food measures up to your dreams. A good chef can take your ideas and opinions and turn them into a creative masterpiece, but only if you are candid about your true feelings and desires.