The planning leading up to your special day will be a lot easier if you like the people you hire. It is also important to like the food and equally like the catering company who is preparing the food. So we have compiled questions you need to ask your caterer before hiring them so that you have a trusting, friendly relationship that does not add to the stress of the planning process.
• Can the caterer provide references from previous clients?
References can tell you what you may not find out just by talking to the caterer, including what it’s like to work with this company or individual. So get at least two references who had a similar number of wedding guests and reception menu style.
• Does the caterer specialize in certain types of food, like organic, locally sourced, ethnic or gluten-free? Also does the caterer work with fresh, not frozen, food?
If you have a particular type of cuisine in mind, use a caterer who specializes in it. Not only will they have all the right resources but the caterer will also know how to properly prepare the food, meaning better and tastier results. The truth is asking a sushi chef to create a country-French menu probably isn’t going to end well. Ask these questions because a caterer may be willing to work with special dietary restrictions, but it could mean additional costs. If offering a special meal to certain family and friends is important to you, but the caterer’s fees are hefty, you might have to find room from elsewhere in your budget or look for another caterer.
• Does the caterer have a license?
If the answer is yes, this means the caterer has met local health department standards (always good!) and carries liability insurance. Also ensure the caterer also has a liquor license if you’re going to be serving alcohol. Liquor liability insurance if they’re providing alcohol is also important because anyone serving alcohol needs to have this type of insurance, including a wedding caterer. Liquor liability insurance will minimize how much you’ll have to pay if something goes wrong.
• Is the caterer working any other weddings or events on the same weekend or same day?
Sometimes, caterers will stack two or more events onto the same day or weekend. While this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker by any means, however you want to be sure that if the caterer does have other events, your wedding will get the staff and attention it deserves and requires.
• What’s the average price range and does the caterer offer packages?
A large portion of your budget will go to catering, so you have to take some time to carefully weigh your options when choosing a caterer. How many appetizer and entrée choices come with the package? Are costs itemized depending on the foods you choose or does the caterer offer an all-inclusive rate? Packages can save you some serious money, most especially if you plan on having a lengthy guest list. If your caterer does offer multiple packages, ask for sample menus to determine which one works best for you.
• Does the caterer offer tastings before being they’re hired? When will the tasting take place? And is there an extra charge for this?
Reading the reviews of a wedding caterer is one thing but tasting the food is another. Opt to do it beforehand if possible as it will allow you to make an informed decision and prevent you from getting locked in with a less than perfect caterer.
When it comes to planning your event, questions are never too much to ask your caterer, here are other questions you might ask are:
• How many weddings do you cater per year?
• Have you done events at my wedding venue before?
• Will I need any special permits for my event? If so, will you handle obtaining them?
• Will you provide a banquet manager to coordinate the meal service or an on-site coordinator who will run the entire event? If so, can we meet this person before the wedding?
• What is your signature fare?
• Given my budget, guest count, and wedding style, what food choices would you recommend?
• Will the food be prepared on-site or be brought in already prepared?
• How will you handle last-minute requests?
• What brands of alcohol will be served?
• Do you charge a corkage fee if we provide our own wine or champagne?• Is the champagne toast after the ceremony included in your meal packages or is it extra?• Will your staff serve the wine with dinner?
• How long will alcohol be served?
• Is coffee and tea service included with the per-person meal charge? What brands of each do you offer and do they include decaf and herbal tea options?
• How much do you charge for children’s meals?
• How much do you charge for vendor meals?
• Do you do wedding cakes? If so, is this included in the per-person meal price or is it extra?
• If we use an outside cake designer, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?
• If I decide not to serve cake, what are some other dessert options?
• Do you handle rental equipment such as tables, chairs, etc.?
• What types of linens, glassware, plates and flatware do you provide?
• Do you provide rental upgrades (i.e., chair covers, lounge furniture, Chiavari chairs, etc.)? What would be the additional fees?
• When will I receive a written contract?
• How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan?
• What is your refund/cancellation policy?
• What information do you need from me before the wedding day?
• When would I need to finalize the menu?
• When will you need a final guest count?
• What are your water, electrical, and equipment needs?
• How long will it take your team to set-up and break down the event?
• What is the ratio of servers to guests?
• What time will you and your staff arrive at the site?
• How does the caterer arrange the food on the buffet or plate? Can you see photos of previous presentations from the caterer?
• Will your team handle all table settings? Will they light candles and put out place cards and favors?
• What is your policy on cleanup?
• How will your staff dress?
• How do you handle tips for your staff?
• What do you do with leftovers?
• How will you run this event?
• What other services do you offer?
The Avenue Catering company is happy to answer all your questions. We know that this is an important day for you. Our professional in house event coordinators will make your planning and decision making process stress free. We are here to take care of all your needs and make your wedding memorable.