Expert Advice: How to Pick a Menu and Caterer that Will “WOW” Your Guests

Photography by Daniel Smyth

You may ask yourself, where do I start? The Phoenix Catering team has summarized some of the key elements to keep in mind as you begin your search for the perfect caterer and build your wedding menu.

1. Start early  

We recommend reaching out to caterers once you pinpoint your wedding date, ideally 12 months out to get your first pick. As you’re researching online and collecting quotes from caterers, we also urge you to set up tastings with your different options as soon as possible. This is where you’ll really see the quality that your paying for and also meet the team you will be dealing with for over a year.


2. Beyond the food 

Think beyond just the menu – what else can your caterer provide that enhances your overall wedding planning and day of experience? Make sure to understand their involvement and compare with the different caterers you meet with. 

One element that sets apart the Phoenix catering team is that we are a full-service operation – our event coordinators and culinary team work together with each couple to not only design each menu and plate presentation but also to lend a hand when it comes to selecting florals, linens and other rentals. “The favorite part about the job is getting to know our couples and finding ways to ease their stress and make their dream wedding come to life,” says Laura Freking, director of events. Our event team is there the day of to give our clients a feeling of reassurance that everything will be executed flawlessly and allow them to sit back and take it all in. 


3. Local and seasonal ingredients 

“We pride ourselves on choosing local vendors and creating seasonally inspired menus; not only do we like to support our local farmers and purveyors, but it’s a great feeling eating food grown in our region,” says Joey Hahn, chef de cusine. 

 It may require giving up some menu control, but remember to trust your chef; a seasoned caterer will be able to find substitutions to the dish you’re envisioning that are equally as appetizing. 


4. It’s all in the presentation 

When planning a wedding it’s all about the details, details, details. One important one you don’t want to overlook is the visual presentation of your menu items. 

“There are ways make your food seasonally, thematically and color wise match your wedding,” says Hahn. “Every couple and wedding is unique; we like to bring that out in how we present the food.”


ABOUT THE PHOENIX CATERING: The Phoenix’s culinary team provides a boutique, personalized-style approach to catering unmatched anywhere else in the region. The Phoenix team led by executive chef & operating partner Jeremy Luers, chef de cusine Joey Hahn and Laura Freking, director of events have the background and skills to provide you with an array of dining options, anywhere from a full-fledged pig roast to a fine dining, sit-down resturant quality meal for any event on- or off-site. 

The Phoenix is a preferred caterer at Music Hall, Cincinnati Premier Parks, Rhinegeist Brewery, American Sign Museum, STIR,  Memorial Hall, Newport  Aquarium and many more event centers. The Phoenix is located at 812 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. You can reach them at 513.721.8901 or visit their website at