Shannon Confair Photography » Business Branding and Branding Strategy for Entrepreneurs

Weddings 101: Choosing a Caterer

I am thrilled to have Francesca DiSalvo-Follmer from Newton Farms Catering in South Carolina with us today sharing her advice on choosing a caterer! I’ve worked with Francesca and her family several times, and they’re always a joy to work with!

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your involvement in the wedding industry.

I guess you could say I was born and raised in the wedding industry, being a daughter of a chef that owns restaurants and does catering. I pretty much grew up in the business. I went to college for Marketing. In October 2008, I got married and soon after started Pure Luxe Bridal Consultants, a local event planning and day-of coordination firm in Pennsylvania. In August 2009, I moved to Charleston, SC for a job as a Catering Director for Newton Farms Catering. I currently head up all of the marketing efforts, sales and event management for the company. In other words I eat, sleep & breathe weddings on a daily basis.

2. What should a bride be looking for when choosing a caterer?

The more things a caterer can handle for you, the better. Choose a caterer that in addition to food, will handle any rental items if needed, bar service and provide their own service staff. You don’t want temps that aren’t familiar with the company or it’s food to be working your event.

3. Can you give us some cost saving tips for catering?

For starters, brides that think they are saving money by having a “heavy hors d’oeuvres” reception are actually choosing the most expensive set up! Heavy hors d’oeuvres are small bites that are incredibly time consuming to make which is why the cost is so much higher. Just because they are small in size doesn’t mean they are small in price. Another cost saving tip would be to have a beer and wine bar instead of a full open bar at your reception. By having beer and wine guests aren’t likely to over-indulge like they would with a full bar. Lastly, if you have an outdoor venue choose to have plastic at your bar instead of glassware if there is an upcharge. This can save you literally hundreds.

4. Are there any common mistakes brides make when choosing a caterer?

I wouldn’t say brides make mistakes when choosing a caterer, they just need to make sure they ask the right questions and give as much information as possible. When requesting information from a caterer make sure you give the following information: wedding date, approximate guest count, food style {hors d’oeuvres, stations, buffet or plated}, type of bar service requested and if any rental items are needed. The more information the better. It’s always most difficult when you get an e-mail from a bride asking for a proposal for 100 guests but gives no additional information.

5. Any closing advice/comments you’d like to give.

I can’t say this enough, hire a wedding planner or day-of coordinator! This will help you and your family keep calm on the wedding day. They will handle logistics and oversee floorplans, not to mention make sure every vendor is in place. Catering companies have an on-site person to make sure everything runs smoothly for the food, rentals and bar, but that’s the extent of their duties.

Our website is we cover Charleston, SC and surrounding areas. Newton Farms Catering Offers:- Flexibility- have an event next week? We can handle your last minute catering needs!
– Customized menus to suit your personal preferences and style.
– Knowledgable & hospitable service.
-A guaranteed phone or e-mail response within 24 hours of contact during normal office hours.
– Our connections- our library of go-to vendors for other services can help make your event stress free!
– Creativity & fresh, local ingredients in every dish, making sure your event exceeds all expectations.

A huge thanks to Francesca for offering her expert advice on choosing a caterer for your wedding! If you have any comments or questions please leave them below. And here are a few images from a Rock the Dress shoot I did with Francesca: