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Posted by Cayla Capri
Picking The Right Caterer
Picking the right caterer cover full
To get all of those loaves broke on time and that wine a-free-flowin’, the bride’s going to need some special assistance - think Mother’s little helper – the all-capable, feat-perfecting, professional catering team. The key to selecting the most appropriate cuisinée outfit is to pare down the options by comparing references. If you’re an urbanite bride-to-be, reputation’s going to count for a lot. So make your quest for a caterer similar to that of a suit’n’tie entrevue – give that resume the good once over, and don’t be afraid to ask the most red-headedly brazen questions of the bunch.
Picking the right caterer 1
Your potential cook-out team should supply you with all the docu’s that you need, such as a copy of a company business license and proof of liability insurance. Draw up a contract ensuring that all promised services agreed upon will ultimately be supplied. Over on your side of the fence, you’ll need to provide proper documentation of an accurate estimate and communicated needs, such as the locale, prep-equipment availability, number of guests (note that some caters do have a minimum guest requirement), as well as any special dietary needs for invited party-goers (a preference for locally home-grown, organic, vegan, or peanut-free).
the plate and the price tag
Picking the right caterer 2
It’s a good idea to have a sit-down with your caterer and muse over budget options. You’ll likely have the opportunity to choose between buffet, silver-service, or intimate layout. Determine how much of the theme and style of the reception you would like to incorporate into the cuisine. Keep in mind that the type of food you choose will play the biggest role upon the bottom line.
Define right off the bat what your caterer’s price-per-person exactly encompasses. Will you have to fork over dough for small children? A bartending staff? Every decision should be outlined and detailed. Find out if your chef-ish friend likes to invest in fresh food or chooses to go frozen. Finish off with a crystal clear definition of the required deposit, final payment due date, and preferred forms of payment.
Picking the right caterer 3
Some of the most successful caterers in the biz opt for a simplistic menu and then go to tinselized-town enhancing the table spread. If you’re looking to sidle up to some budget-friendliness, you may want to seek out someone who’s in tune to this mode of working. Inquire after what your potential caterer intends to supply for you – some may or may not offer tables, chairs, linens and ornamentation. No caterer is complete without a handy-dandy wait staff - you’ll want to know the ratio of servers to guest (1 to 10 guests is ideal), dress code and identification, as well as the fate of the leftovers. Just remember – most likely if you ask, you will receive.
the final touch
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Unfortunately you can’t force your caterer into taking a personality quiz (you could try…), but it’s best just to meet in person and try to hone in on their individual vibe. Are they rushed, hurried, curt or absentminded? Or are they chill, relaxed, and curious to uncover the finer details of your envisioned affair? This is a bit of a no-brainer - but go with the latter. To make sure you’re both got a firm grip on how this thing is going to go down, you’ll want to establish if the cake is a part of the deal, the allotted set-up time, and who’s nifty enough to draw up the floor plan.
what to ask
food stuff
What are your specialties?
There’s something less than reassuring about eclecticism. Focus allows for near perfection, and menus that are short and sweet bring new meaning to the word ephemeral. Peruse sample menus from other weddings or the company’s own one-size-fits-all carte, and get personal faves straight from the source.
Can I get a bite of that?
Taste tests have got to be the best part of planning a wedding, so take advantage of the opportunity to nibble away with fervour and determination. It goes without saying this step’s less about pleasuring your belly and more about practicality, but that shouldn’t stop you from pretending otherwise. In between bites, inquire about fresh vs. frozen ingredients.
Just how flexible are those menus?
If you’d like to incorporate a family recipe for sentimentality’s sake, don’t be afraid to hand that secret over to a true craftsman – just as long as their game. Other mentionables: dietary restrictions and the company’s solutions, like vegan, vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free and peanut-free alternatives.
Do wedding cakes lie within your repertoire?
It’s good to know where your piece de resistance is coming from, so find out whether further research for that ineffable desert is required. And if yes, will the company charge a slicing fee or cut on the cuff?
When is the deadline to finalize the menu? How many days prior to the wedding can I make adjustments?
Last minute changes are inevitable especially when you find out a particular guest is allergic to dairy. Make sure to set a date with your caterer when the menu will be written in stone. Most caterers start preparing the food 3-4 days prior so your menu needs to be finalized at least a week before the wedding. Have this in writing so to avoid any last minute confusion.
Are doggy bags allowed?
Ask the caterer what is done with the extra food. Some catering companies will pack up the scrumptious leftovers for you. This may come in handy for the morning after brunch and all those out-of-towners staying with you.
every woman has a price
Can you chalk up all payment details?
When is comes to the bill, there’s much to determine, so get it all down in writing. First, compare and contrast buffets and sit-downs. Next, find out whether there’s a flat fee or if cost varies from item to item. If it happens to be the former, ask after perks falling under the umbrella, like linens, set-up, clean-up, staff, and other rented items. Finally, get all the info you need on deposits, mini-meals for the other vendors, and picky little angels with unsophisticated palettes and tiny tummies.
Do you provide rentals?
Look out for in-house linens, chairs, silverware, tables, salt and pepper shakers, and place settings. If styles clash with personal tastes or if equipment is nonexistent, see if they’ll arrange for rentals with an outside company.
Do you provide wait staff?
Again, are waiters, bussers and bartenders part of the package, and if so, what sort of getup will they wearing? Typically, top-notch caterers will provide their own servers, whether the venue’s offering up their own set of go-getters of not, because they’ve got the inside scoop on synchronicity. Be sure to know how many servers there will be. Ideally for lavish sit down meals the ratio of wait staff to guests should be one waiter for every 10-12 guests and for buffets one waiter for every 20-30 guests.
Do you have table settings covered?
Does the caterer handle all table settings? Will they put out place cards and favors? How will the caterer arrange the food on the buffet table or on plates? Can you see photos of previous work displays? Do they offer ice sculpture and fruit art displays?
the man in question
Who is the main contact?
Will the same person you work with when planning also oversee meal service on the day of the wedding? (Repetition can be frustrating so you want this to be the case.)
Where will the food be prepared?
Are there on-site facilities, or do you, the caterer, and the site manager need to make additional arrangements? If the caterer must bring in his own equipment, is there an additional fee?
Do you have a liquor license?
Can the caterer legally provide alcohol?
If the caterer will provide the liquor, do they have a flexible wine list, and are they open to special requests? How is this list priced?
If you wish to provide your own wine, champagne, and liquor, will the caterer charge a corkage fee?
Can you refer me to previous clients?
Only a bride knows another bride’s quandaries. Consult with at least two references that had similar number of guests and menu style. Professional caterers will be more than willing to give you references. Those who are hesitant should be questioned.
How many other weddings will your company handle that same weekend/day/hour?
Knowing how many events your caterer will be handling around your wedding gives you an idea how busy your caterer will or will not be. If you’re a Type A then make sure to choose a caterer whose main event that weekend will be yours. Larger more established catering companies are able to handle more than one event the same day.
Have you catered a wedding at my venue before?
This is an especially important question if you're bringing in an outside caterer to a facility that you've rented. A caterer who is used to the comforts of his or her own kitchen may not be prepared for the challenges of life on the road. Ask exactly where they will prepare your food. How will they keep it hot? How will they keep it cold? And which dishes lend themselves to this sort of preparation? It is best to bring your caterer to the venue location prior to the wedding to avoid any last minute surprises.