Wedding catering involves much more than simply food. Before you hire your wedding caterer, ask these 10 questions to keep your budget in check and ensure you’re getting exactly what you need.
ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE PARTS of any celebration with loved ones is the food. Whether it’s a seated meal or trays of canapés, food is what draws people together, and wedding catering is no exception. When thoughtfully planning the various details of a wedding, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
Truffles Fine Foods has put together 10 questions to ask your potential caterer before you sign a contract. While some aspects may not seem important in the early stages of planning, by arming yourself with information, you’ll potentially save yourself a lot of stress down the road.
1. What is included in each catering package?
Any experienced wedding catering company will be able to provide a variety of catering packages tailored to suit different budgets, tastes, and styles. Some packages include the bare necessities while others are jam-packed with no detail overlooked.
Wedding catering is about far more than the food your guests will indulge in: consider whether table linens, cutlery, dishes, and glassware are included. Other costs, such as cutting the cake, coffee or champagne service, gratuities, service charges, setting up, tearing down, and even garbage and recycling fees may be à la carte add-ons – which can quickly cause your budget to balloon.
2. What’s in the small print?
Like any contract, the agreement you make with your wedding caterer is no different. Read the fine print and make sure you understand fully what you’re signing up for. Have your wedding caterer review the contract with you and make sure they clarify the payment schedule (such as a deposit – ranging from 25% to 75% of the total cost), the refund and cancellation policies, and other important details such as extra charges and gratuities that may – or may not – be included.
3. Where will the food be prepared, and is an on-site kitchen facility necessary?
Depending on the style of meal you’re planning to serve, your caterer may prepare the food in advance and transport it to your venue, or they may prepare it on-site. Confirm whether or not the caterer requires an on-site kitchen facility. Because cooking at the venue may require that a makeshift kitchen be built either inside or outside, this often incurs a greater cost, so clarify this detail with your wedding caterer as you review the budget.
4. Can the menu be adapted to include vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or other dietary requirements?
What’s good for one guest may not be good for all guests, and vice versa. It’s very likely that a handful of your guests will have unique dietary requirements, and accommodating those requirements is seen as thoughtful and considerate. When inviting your guests, ask what may be necessary for them and then discuss those with your wedding caterer to decide what options will be available for those guests.
5. Where is your food sourced?
The source of your menu’s ingredients is about more than global impact. Where the ingredients come from can also affect your budget as some caterers will charge extra for premium ingredients. Hoping for local or seasonal items? They may be more affordable but, again, a caterer may charge extra for their efforts to source with specific vendors, so decide in advance if this is important to you and whether or not you’re willing to pay extra.
6. What kind of licenses and insurance will you arrange?
Few weddings are complete without cocktails and dancing. Keep in mind that licenses, such as for serving alcohol or SOCAN, are a legal requirement for weddings that are held in public venues. Other requirements may vary depending on your municipality, so ask your caterer if they can arrange these for you – or point you in the direction of someone who can. If your caterer is supplying alcoholic beverages, confirm that your wedding caterer has both a business license and liquor license.
7. Are meals for children and other wedding vendors included and, if not, how are they priced?
Your photographer, videographer, and DJ (and their assistants!) need to eat too, and it’s a common courtesy to offer each of them a hearty meal. If you’ve encouraged guests to bring their children, the munchkins also have to eat. Some caterers may charge a reduced per-plate price for wedding vendors and underage guests, so confirm this with your caterer before they provide you with an estimate.
8. What will the catering staff wear?
Black bowties at a luau-themed wedding would be as out-of-place as Hawaiian-print shirts at a formal affair. Ensure your wedding caterer’s staff is dressed appropriately for the style and ambiance of your wedding.
9. What do you suggest?
Wedding catering companies do more than simply cook food and prepare meal. Chefs are artists and many relish the opportunity to highlight signature dishes or offer their suggestions for perfect pairings. If you’re unsure about any aspect of your menu, your wedding caterer is your best resource because they’re working from a place of experience and knowledge.
One of the best and most fun parts of wedding planning is deciding on the menu, something most couples do with a tasting. When your wedding caterer does a tasting with you, it’s a great opportunity to discuss your menu options in person, decide on a possible menu theme, and discuss any potential food restrictions. Be sure to ask your caterer if the tasting is complimentary or if there’s a charge for two (which is often deducted from the final invoice).
10. How far in advance to I need to confirm guest numbers and menu details?
Confirm with your wedding caterer how much notice they require with a final guest tally, and then provide your guests with an RSVP date based on that conversation. Your caterer will also want to have all your menu details approved and finalized at the same time. This step is vital to the caterer to ensure that the freshest ingredients are available while allowing for ample time to source any hard-to-find items that may be on your menu.
NEED CATERING FOR YOUR WEDDING?
Truffles Fine Foods is an experienced caterer to weddings of all styles and sizes. If you can imagine it, our team can create it. Our staff is dedicated to providing lasting memories through our unique and inspiring menus. Please contact us today to discuss options for your next event!