May 10, 2024

A Couple’s Guide for Ensuring Wedding Catering Success!


As you plan your dream wedding in Columbus, Ohio, there's no doubt that catering is one of the most crucial elements to get right. From ensuring your guests are treated to delicious food and a culinary experience they'll remember to coordinating seamless service, the details matter. 

As an off-site catering company specializing in weddings, we understand the importance of proper preparation and communication between couples and their caterer.  From the start, communication is key.  It’s important that you work with a caterer you feel is responsive, understands your vision and is communicative so you feel comfortable working together for the long-haul of your wedding planning. 

Here are the top details couples need to track, prepare, and provide their caterer to ensure a seamless execution on the big day.

Ashleigh Grzybowski Photography

1. Dietary Preferences and Restrictions:

Start by gathering information about your guests' dietary preferences and restrictions. This includes allergies, dietary restrictions (such as vegetarian or gluten-free), and cultural considerations. Providing this information to your caterer well in advance allows them to create a menu that accommodates everyone, ensuring that no guest goes hungry or feels left out.  

💌 You don’t have to go to crazy lengths to accomplish this.  It can be as simple as a line on a printed invitation or a small note on your wedding website.

For your wedding website, something like, "Please reach out to let us know if you have any dietary requirements" is perfect.  

💡 This can also be an additional question you build into your online RSVP portal for people to answer if it applies to them.

Once you’ve collected this information, you’ll need to pass it onto the caterer so they can prepare accordingly.  ← More on this coming below!

2. Guest Count 🖊:

Accurately tracking your guest count is essential for determining the quantity of food and beverages needed.  While Caterers will build in overages, one’s worst nightmare is running out of food.  But this usually can be prevented with accurate information on the front end.  

Be sure to provide your caterer with a final headcount at their required deadline before the wedding to avoid any last-minute adjustments.

🌟 Pro tip: Mark your RSVP due date 3-4 weeks before the big day.  Most Caterers require final guest counts (and final payment) 2 weeks before the wedding.  Therefore, it will give you 1-2 weeks between your RSVP deadline and the Caterer’s final count deadline to double check your RSVP tracking, call any guests who haven’t replied and still get your guest counts in on time.

It may sound like a lot of time, but the better you prepare, the less likely for last minute things to pop up and add stress or even get missed.

Insider note: with as busy as wedding season gets, Caterers can have multiple weddings in a weekend.  We need final guest counts 2 weeks prior so we can gather our food orders, packing lists, linen orders etc. and stay on schedule with our own deliveries.  

I know it’s easy to say “well one or two guests won’t matter” or to want your money back for guest counts that change at the last minute, but unfortunately, we’ve already done (and paid for) a lot to prepare.

3. Menu Selection:

Work closely with your caterer to finalize the menu. 

Consider offering a variety of options to cater to different tastes and preferences.  For example, there are a lot of delicious chicken entrees that are gluten free; so you can pick a dish you love while also covering any gluten sensitive guests. 

Don't forget to include options for appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Tasting sessions are a great way to ensure that you're happy with the flavors and presentation of each dish.

At Hudson’s Edge we offer monthly Meet & Greet tastings in an open house format where we provide a variety of appetizers, a full buffet of entrees and sides and a small sampling of desserts.

Our menu is far too extensive to bring everything, but it gives our guests a great experience of our style of cuisine, buffet presentation and also helps show you what it looks like to feed a crowd, vs. a one-on-one food tasting.

You’ll want to e-mail your Sales Representative to find out our upcoming dates and locations!

Michelle Joy Photography

4. Venue Details:

Provide your caterer with detailed information about your wedding venue, including the layout, kitchen facilities and any restrictions or requirements they need to be aware of. This will help them plan for logistics such as food storage, preparation areas, and serving stations.

Usually you’ll have a final planning meeting with your venue to discuss ALL. THE. WEDDING. THINGS.  Believe me… there’s a lot to cover.  But after that meeting, be sure to share these details with the caterer.  

It may not seem like it’s important, but for example, the final diagram or floor plan will help us see how many tables you will have.  Which in turn, helps us plan for how many linens we need to order or how many bread baskets, salt & pepper shakers, dressing boats etc. to pack on our delivery trucks!

5. Seating Chart:

Organizing your seating chart can be a daunting task, but it's essential for ensuring that your guests are comfortable and able to enjoy the festivities. 

🖊 Start by grouping guests based on relationships and common interests, and consider factors such as age and mobility when assigning seats. Providing your caterer with a copy of your seating chart will help them coordinate the meal service more efficiently.

Here’s the scoop… Pinterest will show you both ways to design a seating chart -- either by Table Number or Alphabetical order -- and both are equally eye appealing. 

Here’s the reality... If you have a large number of guests, it will easily take an extra 15-20 minutes for guests to scour each card for their name when listed by Table Number.  Because they don’t know if they’re at table 1, 2, 12 or 20.

Whereas, it’s super quick and easy for guests to find their name when listed in alphabetical order and keeps the congregation of guests flowing into the reception space.

Brookmade Photography

Nowadays, there’s way more fun and crafty ways to display your seating chart… here’s a link to explore a ton of ideas and inspiration!

🌟📣 Local favorite:

We also have to give a local shoutout to one of our favorite Columbus area Calligraphers, Kristin with Lovely Arrows Designs who does some pretty amazing hand lettering and stunning wedding signage, seating charts, favors and more! 

Check her out here – 

Lovely Arrows Designs

6. RSVP Tracking 📝:

If you're having a plated dinner served at your wedding, keeping track of RSVPs is crucial for providing an accurate guest count to your caterer. Use online RSVP tools or a dedicated spreadsheet to track responses, and be sure to follow up with guests who haven't responded by the deadline.

In your RSVP tracking is where you can also make a line to indicate any dietary restrictions or allergies.

👉 Here’s an easy template to get you started: 

When it comes time to share this information with the Caterer, it is absolutely the best option to have it listed as such:

Buffet /Family Style Dinner: Tally the total number of guests (making sure to include yourselves!) and break out any special dietary needs separately. 

Plated Dinner:  Separated by Table Number… Guest Name… Entree Selected.  Along with the additional details to be noted such as Kids Meals and any Allergies/Food Restrictions.

🌟 Pro Tip: Don’t forget (for plated dinner service) – you’ll also need to have place cards made for your guests to put at their seat so the catering service staff know which entree to serve which guest.  We call these “meal indicators.”  It can be C for Chicken, B for Beef, V for Vegetarian… or some couples color coordinate their meal selections – but be careful here, because sometimes the color variations are hard to tell in dimmed dinner lighting!

Another idea is to find stickers that represent each entree.  Cow for Beef Entree, Leaf for Vegetarian etc.


Here’s a simple sticker option to snag! 

7. Day-of Coordination:

On the day of your wedding, designate a point person to communicate with the caterer and oversee the meal service. This will ensure that any last-minute changes or issues can be addressed promptly, allowing you to focus on enjoying your special day.

This can oftentimes be your Coordinator from your wedding venue itself, since they will also be overseeing the day’s details and can help navigate changes and work together with the caterer on quick solutions.

Ashleigh Grzybowski Photography


By paying attention to these key details and maintaining open communication with your caterer, you can ensure that your wedding catering exceeds expectations and leaves a lasting impression on your guests. 

At Hudson’s Edge, we're dedicated to helping couples in Columbus create unforgettable culinary experiences for their special day.  Our company motto is “Elegant Occasions.  Memorable Events.” and we achieve this by prioritizing communication with our couples from day one. 

Contact us today to learn more about our wedding catering services and how we can help bring your vision to life!






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