Things to think about when booking a caterer

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Food is a major part of your big day! Whether you are deciding to stick with a cocktail style reception or having a full-seated dinner, food makes a big impact on your day.

Some venues have an in-house catering team or company and others will let you bring in either a select group of caterers or any caterer. Neither option guarantees that you will save money on your wedding.  When the catering company is in house, the rental fee for the venue is generally much lower but alcohol costs the same as at a restaurant. When you get to select the catering company, the venue more often than not will be much more expensive but you can purchase the alcohol yourself so the liquor comes down in price. If you are working on a tight budget, it is worth looking into how these costs affect your plans and budget based on the venues and caterers you are looking at.

If you are in the position to hire a caterer there are a number of questions you should ask the first time you meet to be sure expectations and costs are clearly laid out in advance of signing a contract. Below is a list of questions to ask your potential caterer.

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  1. What type of serving do you do? Some caterers will only serve family style; others offer a number of options (buffet, white glove etc). Be sure to ask for a rough estimate for the cost of each serving style, as the number of servers required will change for each. (Pst! I always suggest family style to my clients unless the wedding is very formal.)
  2. What is your dress code for your serving staff? May seem like a silly question but having a formal wedding with servers in jeans does not fit.
  3. Do you offer tastings? Some catering companies do and others absolutely will not. If food is really important to you, I would definitely suggest you have a tasting – especially if you have never had the caterer’s food.
  4. How do you handle food sensitivities? We live in a time where weddings come with a long list of dietary requirements. Unless you know for sure this isn’t you, this is an important question to ask to be sure that all your guests can eat and enjoy your day.
  5. Do you offer bartending services? If so, what is included and not included in your bartending services? Some caterers will simply put a person behind the bar, others are happy to pick up ice and all your mixes in advance, others it is all included in the fees and you don’t need to think twice about it. These are important because this may put you in a position where you need to do a number of errands leading up to the wedding or have to hire additional vendors.
  6. Do you support set-up? This will change pending on the caterers relationship with the venue as well as your overall wedding design plan. No matter the situation, it is good to know this in advance as you may need to hire a vendor or bring on family and friends to help.
  7. Do you take care of clearing glasses/dishes after the dinner? At venues where the caterer is not included in the venue many caterers base fee does not include them helping clear dishes or glasses after dinner. This means when someone puts a cup down during the dance, it will not be taken away until teardown. A number of caterers are happy to add this service on but it is not included in the base fee. 
  8. What are additional costs associated with catering? Many catering companies are happy to lend additional support for your day but it is important you know in advance how much these add on’s can cost because they can add up quickly. If they can provide you a price list, that will give you a lot of trust.
  9. Is gratuity included in your quote? Again, you don’t want an additional 18% added to your bill without expecting it.
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Overall, the caterer takes on one of the biggest roles in your day and it is also the vendor that has the most varied expectations. In order to have a successful and enjoyable lead up as well as wedding day, it is important to have expectations clearly laid out in advance of the wedding, so be sure to communicate everything you expect from a caterer.

Want to know more?

Concerned about catering or any other vendor on your wedding team? Feel free to suggest another blog post about questions to ask a type of vendor – or book a consultation to get some answers about specific Edmonton vendors. Just get in touch!