No bride wants to think about it, but a catering disaster can strike on a wedding day.
The team at Cotton Blues has tended to thousands of weddings, and they know all the ins and outs of catering. Together, they’ve compiled a list of the most critical questions you should be asking your wedding caterer so you can be sure the business you hire is up to the challenge.
1. Will we run out of food?
Avoid caterers that want you to plan using “piece counts.” For example, this is where a caterer intends to bill you for 200 crab cakes for 200 guests.
“Piece counting” is an efficient business model for the caterer because it allows them to assure no food is wasted. But “piece counts” are lousy news for a bride and groom and places a significant burden on them to guess the right amount of food.
A quality wedding caterer will use a per-head pricing model.
A stellar caterer will do the same, but also prepare for a 10% increase over your final guarantee.
Caterers that are in the business for the long haul know their name is on the line when they cater a wedding, and they’ll want to ensure your family and friends are well fed.
2. Are there hidden fees?
Just like buying a car, sometimes you may only consider the sticker price. But anyone that’s purchased a car before knows you’re also going to have to cough up extra cash for the taxes and title.
Once your caterer gives you their estimate, be sure and ask them if that includes the tax, service fees or any other hidden charges.
3. What happens once the food is delivered?
Some caterers may only give you a quote for the food, but who’s responsible for the food once it arrives at your venue? A caterer that offers servers can be critical to ensuring your friends and family enjoy your wedding.
Is the food being dropped off?
Who’s responsible for serving guests food and drinks?
Who’s maintaining that trays are full and food stays at the proper temperature?
Who’s responsibility is it to bus tables?
Your wedding is your day, and it’s supposed to be stress-free. If your caterer can affordably provide some servers, take them up on it.
4. Does the price include serving dishes, plates, cutlery, tables, and tablecloths?
An experienced caterer knows how to make your wedding food beautiful. Be sure and ask the caterer if they have a creative way to display the food.
If it’s within your budget, your display should be consistent with your theme and venue.
5. Can your caterer provide a reference list of previous wedding parties?
We now live in a world where you can find ratings of most businesses online. However, many independent caterers are small operations and crowdsourced reviews of their company may not register online.
If you’re considering using a “mom and pop” catering operation, don’t hesitate to ask if they can show you some references or testimonials from their past work. It may also be wise to ask your venue coordinator if they’ve ever worked with the caterer you’re considering?
6. Does your caterer use a contract?
When it comes to booking a caterer, contracts are a good thing.
It’s typical for a caterer to want money in advance of the event, but you deserve some guarantees as well.
Do not give your caterer money unless you have a contract that guarantees they will execute your function or return your money.
Local news stations have covered hundreds of wedding day horror stories where caterers have taken cash and then vanished.
Further, many caterers operate on thin margins, and they sometimes go out of business before your event. Don’t get burned by a fly by the night caterer.
7. Does your caterer work out of a state health inspected facility?
The thought of a bunch of your wedding guests getting sick right after your wedding is a nightmare. If your caterer works out of a facility that is state health inspected the bar will be very high for them to run a clean operation. Another plus, the history of a state health inspected facility can usually be pulled up online with a quick google search.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about ways Cotton Blues can help at your next catering event email Ryan at email@example.com or call 601.450.0510