When that special event is right around the corner, few items on your checklist will take priority over choosing the right caterer. Deciding on the perfect catering company is typically the #1 or #2 most expensive item on your event budget. Good sustenance can be the determining factor on whether you throw a good or GREAT event. But there are several factors to consider when choosing the caterer for your event; and it isn't all about the money. Consider the following when it's time for you to put on your next event. 1. Determine the right budget for you and your event. Often times we can be consumed by the vision of our event without taking a step back to see if we can legitimately afford what we envision. Take a macro view of what you're trying to do and determine what you can realistically afford. If you hire a band, does that mean you have to cut back on the food or vice versa? As we know, an unlimited budget is not always a choice (but it'd be great if it was). 2. Communication and fit are also important. Not all caterers and event planners are created equal. You want to choose the perfect company to serve your specific event. You don't necessarily want a corporate caterer to cater your daughters 14th barn party since the corporate caterer may not be equipped to handle an outside event. You'll want to have several conversations with your caterer to make sure you both remain on the same paige during contract. If your caterer does most of the talking or misses your calls often, that may not be the fit you desire because that behavior can often feed over into their level of service. 3. Your event is unique, so can your caterer accommodate? Some caterers have their menus and they stick to them, that's okay. But there are others that can be flexible to your needs. Is the Bride and Groom vegan? Can your caterer prepare both vegan and keto cuisine that all will enjoy? Determine if the caterers flexibility suits you; flexibility in not only menu offering but location and times. 4. A sample or tasting is important to let you know what your offering to your guests. Your event can be memorable in two ways, either bad or good. Why not make it the latter? Good food often sticks with a person after an event. Think back to the last events you've been to...what do you remember most? 5. Get it in writing. A catering contract is good for both the business and the customer. You want to know how the caterer accepts cancellations. You'll also need to know what forms of payment are accepted. How many staff come with your order? Is set up and break down included? How are leftovers handled? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is enough to get the conversation started and likely spark more considerations. When choosing the right caterer, it pays to do your due diligence. Make sure your caterer has experience executing events similar to yours and don't be afraid to ask your caterer how long they've been in the business. Ask for reviews and references, after all, you are hiring them. The best caterers are the ones that leave a positive lasting impression on you and your guests, so take your time and choose your best fit.