Getting engaged is such an exciting time. However, the exhilaration of saying “I will” can quickly be replaced by the overwhelming concerns surrounding planning a wedding.
I designed my Smart Start series to take the worry out of planning your wedding. Smart Start will be delivered to your inbox every week filled with tips on the business and the art sides of planning a wedding. It will break up your tasks into easy-to-accomplish segments so you can enjoy the planning process.
If you have questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also find back issues of the Smart Start series by clicking HERE.
One of the most fun parts of planning a wedding is choosing the food. I’ve found that this is one planning task that both members of the couple usually enjoy undertaking! When it comes to choosing a caterer or working with a venue’s catering team, though, there are some important things you should find out before finalizing your contract.
1. Ask if they’re available on your wedding date. If not, move on or select another date.
2. Be sure to get ALL of the fees. You’ll want a quote not only for the price per person on menu items, but the applicable taxes and service fees (which range these days between 18-24%). With a service fee of 24% and tax rate of 6.5%, for example, a $100 per person rate becomes $132.06. If you’re having 100 guests, that’s a $3,206 difference! You’ll also need to know if there will be any bartending fees, fees for manning food stations, possible rental fees, vendor meal rates, etc. so you can account for those in your budget.
3. Spell out what’s included. Check the contract to confirm that it details what’s included in your catering fees, from waitstaff to plating and utensils to linens and tables. You should also find out if they’ll do your wedding cake or if you need to book that separately.
4. Find out how many other events they’re handling on your wedding day. You’ll want to know if the caterer will be dedicated to your event or splitting time between multiple events. If yours won’t be their only event that day, find out who will be your point of contact on the big day and meet with them before you sign the contract to make sure you’re comfortable with them.
5. Are they licensed? You’ll want to know that they’re licensed and permitted to serve food (and alcohol, if you’re having a bar).
6. Don’t be shy about asking for suggestions. Your caterer will be able to guide you in your menu choices based on your personal likes and dislikes, possible food restrictions, your wedding’s theme, etc. They can also advise you on menus and serving style (plated vs. buffet) to suit your budget. Rely on their experience to help you craft the perfect menu.
7. Schedule a tasting. If at all possible, schedule a tasting before you set your wedding menu. That way you can be sure you’ll love your wedding meal!
8. Know the setup and breakdown times they’ll need. Your day-of wedding coordinator will need to know what time to meet the caterer to commence setup, and other vendors will need to know when the tables will be set to add décor, etc. When it comes to weddings, timing is everything.
9. When is the final guest count due? Make sure the contract specifies the date when your final guest count is due and mark that date on your calendar.
10. Learn your payment options. Ask what forms of payment the caterer accepts so you’re prepared to make your payments. You’ll also need to know the deadlines for when your payments are due.
11. Do they permit refunds? If the worst should happen and you have to cancel, you’ll want to know your options for getting some or all of your money back.
If you do your research ahead of time and find experienced caterers that come with strong recommendations, you’ll be in great shape towards having a delicious wedding menu. Get the answers to the above questions before you sign your contract so you can just sit back and enjoy your meal!