Paella by Rouge Catering in Hunt Valley.

Paella by Rouge Catering in Hunt Valley. (Rouge Catering / March 18, 2014)

Preparing a wedding menu can be tricky. That’s why, with a little help from the folks at Rouge Catering in Hunt Valley (rougecatering.com) and Chef's Expressions in Timonium (chefsexpressions.com), we’ve made things a bit easier with this list of catering tips for the bride- and groom-to-be.

Know what food style you’re going for
Chef’s Expressions recommends that couples give caterers three of their favorite restaurants and their favorite style of food so that they can get a feel for your food style. Food styles don’t have to be as specific as baked or fried, but should include things like spicy, sweet or international cuisine.

Don’t be safe
“Everyone wants to be safe, but you’re not going to make an impression with chicken and steak,” said Jerry Edwards, chef at Chef’s Expressions. Explore other food choices that you like. You’ll never satisfy all of your guests, so at least satisfy your own taste buds.

Request a Full Tasting of Your Menu
With large wedding parties, it is important to test out what guests will get. After all, how can you determine if the company is right for you without knowing the quality of the product? Insist on tasting.

Fresh Food
Many catering services cheat with prepared frozen appetizers. No one wants to eat things at a wedding that they can pop in the oven at home, so ask about this specifically. Rouge Catering says to demand on-site cooking and food preparation to assure the freshness of the meal.

Ask for References
Sometimes online reviews are outdated, so take it a step further and ask for a reference from a recent customer.

Allergy and food sensitivities
Find out what common allergy triggers are used for your desired meal. Typically a caterer will provide gluten-free or peanut-free alternatives.

How Will the Caterer Be Dressed?
Some couples may want the catering staff to reflect the style of the food and reception. Are you going for casual bistro or formal dining? West Indian or Southern food? If it’s important, don’t be afraid to ask if the company’s flexible about uniform styles.