Hiring a Caterer: Advice from a Caterer

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2001

Chef and caterer Daniel Barber of Daniel Barber Catering in New York has just one word for couples planning a wedding reception: communicate. Barber has catered almost 100 weddings in the past six years.

"They are my favorite parties to plan," he says, "because they are the most personal." But for this same reason, weddings are also the most difficult. Careful and constant communication, Barber says, can help soothe some of the tensions and anxieties.

Discussions should begin with the bride and groom, who need to hammer out any differences before visiting a caterer. Couples should take the time to work out any differences of opinion and financial issues with their parents, too. They can then come to their first meeting prepared with a timeline, a budget, and a flexible vision. It may take two to 10 meetings to sort out the details and establish the trust that Barber says is key to a comfortable experience. And while he will gladly work to put his clients at ease, he prefers to deal with just one person to avoid receiving confusing and contradictory information.

His ideal customer? One with honest expectations and an open mind. "Some of the best weddings I've done," Barber says, "are those in which the couple came to me with no idea of what they wanted or of what was possible. We worked together to create a perfect event -- with a sense of the couple, the place, and the season."

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