Wanted: Wedding Day Caterer

 

Begin your catering search immediately after booking your site.  Check your facility’s preferred vendor lists.  Look through local wedding publications and websites.  Once you’ve narrowed your choice to three or four caterers, schedule an appointment to meet, sample the food, and receive a quote.

 

Your first step should be to confirm the caterer is available on your date.  Some caterers serve multiple events on a date while others are exclusive to one event.  If the caterer has monthly scheduled tastings, call to RSVP. Some offer private tastings allowing you to sample your request.  Be sure to ask if there is a charge and how many may attend. 

 

Is the caterer licensed and insured?  How long have they been in business? Have they catered at your facility before? If not, will they see the facility before the event? Will a banquet captain be provided and will you meet him before your event?  How many staff are needed for your event?  What is the staff attire? Where and when will your menu be prepared and cooked?  How much “hot box” holding time will there be?  What is the price difference between plated and buffet? If buffet is chosen, what is the presentation?  Is the buffet served by staff or self-serve?  How long will the catering staff need to set up and how long will they stay?   Compare with your facility rental time.

 

Is there a children’s menu at reduced rates?  Is there a cake-cutting and champagne corkage fee?  Is there a charge for vendor meals?  Will the caterer set up rentals?  If you are having a chocolate fountain, will it be attended the entire time it is running? What happens to leftovers?  If you are at a private residence, will the caterer remove the trash from the property?  If the caterer leaves before the reception is over, what happens to rental linens, tables, and chairs?  Ask about cancellation and refund policies.

 

Get a detailed description of food and services to be provided including set up and serving information plus number of staff for your event as part of your quote.  Read the catering terms carefully and note the deposit amount to hold the date, when payments, guest counts and menu selections are due.   Your catering quote should note your estimated guest count and menu selection or minimum charge plus rentals, upgrades, staff, tax, operation fees, and any additional charges.  Ask if gratuity is included.  Divide the final total by your guest count for a per person amount. 

 

To make the best comparison, request a similar menu quote from each catering company and note the services offered by each caterer, i.e. $1.50 per person cake cutting fee vs. free cake cutting fee, four staff for serving vs. three, etc. 

 

Evaluate your satisfaction with all aspects of your experience with the caterer from first contact through information exchange through meeting, tasting and quoting.  Did the caterer respond promptly by phone or email with personal attention and the information you requested along with having your questions answered?  Was the food at your tasting what you would want to serve your guests?  Were appealing ideas presented? Were your preferences noted? Did you feel the caterer listened to you and would make every effort to carry out your wishes? Was the caterer professional and knowledgeable?  Do you feel the caterer will work with you to accommodate special requests?

 

Once you’re confident in your choice, place a deposit to reserve your caterer and rest assured that the professional you have hired will fulfill your wedding catering dreams.

 

 

 

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