Picking the Right Caterer
When planning your wedding, you will spend the largest percentage of your wedding budget on the food and beverage for the reception. We have all been to those weddings as a guest where you don’t remember what the centerpieces looked like or have no idea what the flavor of the cake was, but remember the dry chicken or noticed the dirty dishes laying around. How can you make sure that the caterer that you select will provide the standard of service that you expect?
When meeting with different caterers for your wedding, it is hard to know the right questions to ask. Here is a guideline to help you get started along your way:
Do they specialize in certain types of food?
What types of food do they offer for Hors D’oeuvres? For the main course? For dessert?
Do they provide a tasting before or after you sign the contract?Is there a fee for a sample tasting?
What are their price ranges for the type of reception that you are looking for?
Do they offer food for certain dietary restrictions — vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc.?
Will the caterer provide any necessary rentals: tables, place settings, linens, chairs, etc.?
Are they catering other events on my wedding day? If so, how many?
How many types of staff will the caterer provide — waiters, bartenders, bussers, back of the house, event managers, etc.? And how many of each will be working my event?
What will the wait staff wear?
Will the food be prepared on-site or be brought in already prepared?
If my reception location does not have a well-equipped kitchen, will the catering company be able to bring in the necessary appliances — refrigerators, ovens, etc.?
Do they work with fresh or frozen foods?
Are they able to supply a full bar? What is the fee for liquor?
Can the caterer provide me with a wedding cake? Is the cake cut by the banquet staff even if I get it from another company?
How long will it take them to set up and to break down the event?
Do they require a minimum number of guests?
Will they provide food for the other vendors — the photographer, planner, videographer and band? (how much does this cost?)
When will I need to finalize the menu?
When will they need a final head count?
Are gratuities included in the food prices? If not, what is the gratuity charge?
What is their overtime and cancellation policy?
How much is the deposit needed? When is the final balance due?
Are they licensed and insured?
Have they done events at your location?
Do we have to work off a preset menu or can you create a custom menu for our event?
If I have a special dish I’d like served, would you accommodate that?
How can the food be served — buffet style, table service or family style?
What do you do with the leftover food?
Can I get a list of references or read reviews online?
Most of the time, your caterer will cover most of these points in your initial meeting. If not, make sure you take the time to be really clear on the services being provided. Once you gather your quote or a few for comparison, really take the time to look through them all and compare them apples to apples. Often times, one caterer will charge a service charge not included in, while another leaves off the tax. The last thing you want is for there to be any hidden fees or surprise charges due right before your special day.
Above all, choose a caterer who not only provides delicious food but gives you the peace of mind to not have to worry about the reception on your wedding day!
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