Friday, March 21, 2014

What to Ask When Interviewing Caterers

When seeking the caterer that best fits your needs, it's easy to take pricing at face value without considering the "add-ons".  It's important to note that these "add-ons" are very legitimate charges but it's equally important to know about them in advance so you can compare apples to apples.  

Of course, we're assuming everyone's food is delicious and suits our style.  We're simply comparing service options and cost in this article.

1) Is there a separate charge for delivery?
  -Unless you're using a venue's on-site caterer, there is often a transport charge.
2) Is there a set-up fee?  And does set up include setting the guest tables?
  -Some caterers include this in the delivery fee, but not all.  It's worth the moment 
    to ask.
3) If serving a buffet, how long will it be served?
  -This sounds odd but it's not uncommon that buffets are cleared immediately 
    after the final guest table has been served.  This leaves no opportunity for 
    guests to make a 2nd trip.  If you want the buffet left available longer, the time 
    to negotiate is before making a final hiring decision.
4) If serving plated meals, be sure to know how many servers are included and 
    what additional charges might be incurred if more are needed.
   -You'll want to be sure your guests are served within a reasonable time frame 
    so the remaining festivities can be started on schedule.
5) Are drinks included?  And how long will they be available?
   -It's common for caterers to serve tea and/or lemonade but there is sometimes 
    a separate charge.  Some may also serve soda for an addition premium charge.
6) What dishware, if any, is included?
   -Some caterers offer tiered services with lower levels including disposables and 
    higher levels including glass chinaware.  Be sure you know your options.  
7) Are any table linens included?  
   -High-end caterers may include linen tablecloths & napkins but they sometimes 
    come at a cost and you may need to ask for them to even know they are an 
8) Will alcohol be served by their staff?  And does it have to be provided by the 
   -Many caterers have a licensed bartender on staff.  However, their service often 
    requires the alcohol be purchased directly through them.  Most will not serve 
    alcohol that you bring in and those who will, generally charge a hefty fee that 
    eats up any savings you might have enjoyed by bringing your own.
9) How will clean up be handled?  And is there a charge for clean up services?
   -This may be included if you are using dishware provided by the caterer.  
    Otherwise, clean up may be limited to their serving station(s).  Ask to be clear 
    so you can either purchase complete service or make other arrangements.  
    Remember, your venue deposit can be at risk if proper clean up doesn't 
    happen in a timely manner.

This may seem overwhelming but being informed can be the difference between being a happy customer or a disgruntled one.  No one wants to be disatisfied on their wedding day.

Happy Planning!

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