Mary Cleaver is a pioneer of the sustainable food movement and her catering company, The Cleaver Company, has long been at the forefront of bringing local food and green methods to weddings and events. I interviewed Cleaver recently and was able to tap into her 30 years of experience as a caterer and champion for delicious food. We’ve worked together on weddings and I knew her easy-going candor would be perfect for helping couples beginning to think about working with a caterer.
SJ: What should couples think about when deciding what type of meal they would like to serve at their wedding?
MC: The meal should reflect the type of food the couple enjoys eating most, and it should reflect their values and personalities. For example, if they are vegetarian, they should feel comfortable serving a vegetarian meal. I often advise couples to think about what they would serve if they invited guests over for a home-cooked meal.
SJ: As a caterer, what do you appreciate clients having thought about before they meet with you for the first time?
MC: Some couples have given their wedding a lot of thought, others need guidance and ideas. We’re here to help either way! Some of the most important details are the guest count, location, the date (and season), type of meal (cocktail party, buffet, or plated dinner), and certainly, the budget. It’s very important to know what a couple is comfortable spending before getting too far into the planning. Dietary restrictions as well as food preferences are also helpful to know early on. (Photo courtesy of Laurie Rhodes)
Often this is the first big event a couple plans and we’re here to aid in the process — for example, if a couple doesn’t yet have a location, we’ll start by talking about venue options. The venue is actually quite important as it determines the style and aesthetic of the event, and can affect the budget and menu as well — a venue with a full kitchen will require less rental equipment than a bare space, for example.
SJ: What are the key things to keep in mind to develop a successful working relationship with your caterer?
MC: Like any relationship, this one requires trust, mutual respect, and good communication! It’s important for us to understand the whole picture and to be informed of new developments as they occur.