Continuing in my Vegan Wedding theme for Vegan MoFo 2013 – here’s a bit about my experience with caterers, and a few tips. P.S. It’s also less than a month before JC and I get married. Eeeee.
Early in the wedding planning process I started to look at caterers and venues and options for the wedding. To be honest, it was one of the main criteria in the decision making process. You may notices that JC and I love food. Finding a really fantastic restaurant is more than just a night out, it’s a hobby, and we love to share with each other and others, so I’m sure it’s not surprising that it ranked highly.
In Toronto some venues have in-house caterers that you’re obligated to use, others will let you use your own caterer with certain stipulations or additional fees, and with others you are completely on your own. Some include service, some don’t. It depends on your budget, and how much you want to spend and how many separate service providers you want to work with.
I researched a few around the city and sent emails to a few places that seemed promising, nearly everyone got back to me with wedding package information, and claimed they knew how to cater a vegan wedding (though some glossed over that part), but more inquiries about options and menus usually showed they didn’t really know much about it at all.
Some places seemed incredulous that I would want an entirely vegan wedding, and didn’t seem to understand the importance having really amazing food had to us, so they were promptly scratched off the list – including places that seemed pretty exciting otherwise. All I’m saying… is I’m tempted to go all “Pretty Woman” and say “big mistake.” But it happens. Be prepared.
When we finally did decide on a venue + caterer combo, we were still talking about food for months, more than anything else. Your mileage may vary on this, but we did not finalize with our venue until they gave us a few examples of dishes they would be able to make for us, and we went back again.
Dealing with Caterers – Just a Few Tips/Questions
It’s the same as dealing with a regular caterer but with a few vegan caveats.
- Figure out how many people you want attending your wedding and decide on a budget.
- Contact potential caterers – do you have a venue? Find out what requirements the venue has for caterers, such as insurance or partnerships.
- Explain your dietary requirements in your initial contact. The understanding of the word “vegan” varies. Some people think it’s limited only to food, limited only to no eggs, milk, meat, etc, or some other thing.
- Find out if they have any experience with vegan weddings, ask if you can see a sample menu, ask if you can try a dish or two to figure out if you want to work with them (and find out if there is a fee for this).
- Find out how much they charge per person for food? Is service included? Is there a cake cutting fee? Corkage?
- Will they provide a dessert table? Do they make vegan wedding cakes? Grooms cakes?
- What input you will have to the menu? Is there a customization fee?
- How many weddings do they do per day?
- How much of a deposit is required?
- What do they do with the leftovers?
- Do they use organic or local vegetables? (veganic… dare I dream….)
There are lots of wedding catering checklists and questions lists online. Find one and tailor it to your interests/venue/budget!
Vegan Catering Options in Toronto.
I listed some of these on my Engagement Party post, but they are worth repeating. I have not tried all of these, but they’re worth contacting.
- Vegan Delights – http://www.vegandelights.ca/ – I’ve had their food at other parties and it’s been really nice and crowd pleasing to non-vegans and vegans alike.
- Harty Catering – http://www.heartycatering.com/
- Urban Acorn Catering – http://www.urbanacorn.ca/
- Chica Mamma Catering – http://www.chicamomma.com/
- Pear & Pepper
- Brixton Grill – https://www.facebook.com/BrixtonGrill – so they’re not official caterers (at the moment anyway), but if you like vegan BBQ it’s worth reaching out.
- For more that you can get TVA Card discounts with take a look at the TVA’s Vegetarian-Friendly Catering Page.
- Canoe – Upon contacting them, they are able to do a vegan menu. They made us a special vegan menu once upon a Valentines Day, so I can tell you they make yummy food, but they also seemed a little awkward at the notion of putting on an entirely vegan event.
- Berkeley Events & Catering. – This place is both a venue and a caterer. They have experience in vegan weddings and events. This is where we decided to get married. I’ll have more to say after the event is finished!
- Kortright Centre – They have vegan options on their menu & they are also willing to work with others to create a menu. At one point Doug McNish was consulting with them to make a vegan menu for a wedding, so that might be an option you’d want to pursue if getting married in Toronto. (also – the venue is so beautiful and was one of the places we would have pursued if it was available on the day we wanted.)
- Daniel et Daniel – a twitter pal recommended these for their ability to make delicious vegan options. (examples of some of their meatless offerings)
Vegan Catering Options elsewhere:
- Check out some of the caterers listed on Rose Pedals for Vegan Catering.
- Connect with your local vegan and vegetarian group if one exists in your area.
- Depending on your preferences and the area you live in, East/South Indian Caterers might be your scene and often have vegan/veganizable options.
- Kosher caterers are another option to connect with because they have an understanding of dietary restrictions. Just know that parve doesn’t mean vegan.
Remember that you are paying them for a service, and they can either do it or they can’t, and if they can’t, then it’s worth moving on to a new one. There is absolutely nothing wrong or unreasonable about asking for a vegan wedding menu, and I’ve noticed people talk about it almost sheepishly. But stop! You are awesome. Remember that.
It is a special day, and you should enjoy it.