10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring A Catering Company
Planning a wedding is an exciting time. Your wedding should be a reflection of the unique love you and your partner share and food can be a large part of that! The following ten questions are intended to help you get the information you need in order to choose a catering company that is ideal for your style, palate, and budget.
#1 “Who am I meeting with?”
Let’s start with the basics: Are you meeting with the owner of the company? A manager? Someone in the sales department? Were you able to meet in person? Knowing whom you’re meeting with can paint a picture of the relationship you will build with the company during the wedding planning process. The most important part of this question is the next part: Whom will I be working with? It is important to meet with the “point person” early on and ensure they are the person you will be working with for the entire wedding planning process.
#2 “How will you run this event?”
Your prospective caterer will ask you a lot of questions about how you want your day to be run, but it is important that you ask the caterer similar questions. Ask how many staffers the caterer estimates will be working the event; ask if the catering staff will serve the food (if the meal is buffet style); and specify who will be in charge of the cake cutting ceremony. It is not your job to tell the caterer how to do their job, but it is important for you to know how the catering staff will be operating on your wedding day.
#3 “What other services do you offer?”
Some caterers are willing to make desserts, some have licensed bar services, some even have a venue you could rent for the rehearsal dinner, bridal shower, or bachelorette party. Ask what other services this company offers. Package deals are not only easier, but are often less expensive than purchasing the food, dessert, and bar all from different companies.
#4 “Whom do you recommend in the industry?”
Caterers plan and work weddings every weekend, which usually means they have relationships with other vendors in the industry. Ask your caterer about whom they know and trust. From photographers and DJs to local table favors and centerpieces caterers are experts on the details that go into a wedding—take advantage of their knowledge!
#5 “Where do you get most of your ingredients?”
The answer to this question can tell a lot about the catering company. If the caterer lists local farms and farmers’ markets it means two things: one, that the caterer makes using fresh, local products a priority, and, two, that the caterer’s menu is adaptable and reflective of the seasons and your taste. This adaptability means that the caterer is probably more willing to tweak their recipes and dishes to accommodate allergies or personal preference.
#6 “What do you already have, and what will you need in order to cook at this venue?”
Most venues don’t come with a fully stocked kitchen, because of this, it is important to know the scope of what will need to be rented. Does the caterer have their own platters and server’s trays? Utensils? Plates? Trash cans? Rental fees for these items can add up quickly, it’s important to know exactly what you are paying for. Which brings us to number seven…
#7 “Can you provide me with a broken-down cost estimate?”
Caterers often charge a “per-head” rate. This means that each guest costs a certain amount. It is very important to know what is included in the per-head rate. If the per-head rate only accounts for the cost of food and drink for each guest, there could be extra costs that surprise you at payment time. Be proactive in preventing unforeseen costs. Ask if labor, set-up/breakdown, bartenders’ wages, chefs’ wages, and gratuity are included in the per head price. If they aren’t, ask the caterer to draft and send you a comprehensive estimate that factors in all additional fees.
#8 “What is your leftover policy?”
This question may seem trivial at first, but it all factors into knowing what you’re paying for. If a caterer does not allow for you to take leftovers then you are only paying for what your guests ate, and not all of the food the caterers made for your wedding day. Ask if the caterers would be willing to wrap up food for you to take home after the reception. It may be preferable to you for the caterers to pack up and not leave any food behind for you to worry about, but it’s worth your while to know if the service is offered.
Two questions to ask yourself:
#1 “Do I like the food?”
This very obvious question can get overlooked in the flurry of planning a wedding. The most important part of hiring a catering company is hiring a company that will make the food you want to eat on your wedding day. That is why a food and/or wine tasting is an important step in the planning process. Ask if the caterer is willing to host a tasting for an in-depth look at the style of the company and to assure that you and your partner are completely satisfied with your menu. Guests’ preferences and price point are necessary factors in the decision, but, at the end of the day, it is most important that you and your partner love the food that is served on your special day.
#2 “Do I like the caterer?”
Ultimately, the planning leading up to your day will be a whole lot easier if you like the people you hire. It is equally important to like the food, as it is to like the catering company who is preparing the food. For the next 6-12 months you will be planning with this company, and it is important that you have a trusting, friendly relationship that does not add to the stress of the planning process.