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How to choose the perfect caterer for your big day

Courtesy of Talk of the Town
Courtesy of Talk of the Town
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By KATIE VANBRACKLE
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We asked Chris Archer, owner of Talk of the Town Catering and Special Events, to share some tips on how to find the perfect wedding caterer. Archer and his staff have a built a strong reputation in the Atlanta area for excellence in cuisine and service, recently earning a spot in wedding website The Knot’s Best of Weddings Hall of Fame.

This year, Archer will experience things from a different perspective, that of father-of-the-bride, when his daughter Ashlyn walks down the aisle in November. Will he be able to enjoy her reception without giving the hors d’oeuvres a critical eye?

“I’ll still enjoy myself,” he said. “But I may be looking around just a bit.”

1. The venue often dictates the caterer.
Many venues have a preferred caterer you are required to use, so choose the location of your wedding and reception before you even think about food. For example, Talk of the Town is the exclusive caterer for Roswell’s Founders Hall and The Chimneys at Big Canoe.

2. Do some online research.
If you are able to choose your own caterer, hop online to do a bit of research before calling around. Get a feel for a company by how updated their website looks, check out photos or videos and read online reviews to determine the satisfaction of previous customers. Some catering websites may include event menus and pricing.

3. Attend a tasting.
The best way to get a feel for a caterer is to visit their facility for a tasting. However, many companies require you to be under contract with a deposit before offering a sampling. Archer prefers to talk with the bride and groom first, making sure everyone is in the same ballpark financially. Then he hosts open houses with tastings every six weeks for prospective clients. At tastings, pay attention to the way food is displayed, and how servers interact with guests.

4. Consider action stations.
Action stations, with a chef standing behind a table, interacting with guests and preparing small, individual plates, is a popular trend. Get creative and express your individual style with shrimp and grits in a martini glass, a flambé dessert station or a bacon bar with candied and spicy varieties.

5. Mix it up.
A rehearsal dinner should complement the wedding reception style, but not match it. If the wedding offers a full, seated dinner, then consider heavy hors d’oeuvres for the rehearsal dinner. If the wedding is formal, consider a casual barbecue or low-country boil the night before to allow the wedding party to relax and unwind.

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