Monday, 12 October 2015

Questions To Ask Your Vendors Before Hiring Them, part 1 (caterers)


References can tell you what you may not find out just by talking to the caterer, including what it's like to work with this company or individual. Get at least two references who had a similar number of wedding guests and reception menu style.

2. Is the caterer working any other weddings or events on the same weekend or same day?

Sometimes, caterers will stack two or more events onto the same day or weekend. This doesn't have to be a deal breaker by any means, but you want to be sure if the caterer does have other events and if your wedding will get the staff and attention it deserves.

3. Does the caterer specialize in certain types of food, such as local, ethnic or continental dishes? Does the caterer work with fresh, not frozen, food?

If you have a particular type of cuisine in mind, use a caterer who specializes in it. Not only will they have all the right resources, the caterer will also know how to properly prepare the food, meaning better, tastier results. Let's face it -- asking a local chef to create country-French cooking probably isn't going to end well.

4. Does the catered meal come full service?

This just means that the caterer, in addition to food preparation, will handle everything from the table settings to bar service and cleanup. What's included depends on the catering company and the packages they offer. If it isn't full service, you'll have to find (and pay) additional staff.

5. What's the average price range, and does the caterer offer packages? How many appetizer and entrée choices come with the package? Are costs itemized depending on the foods you choose, or does the caterer offer an all-inclusive rate?

A good chunk of your budget will go to catering, so take some time to carefully weigh your options when choosing a caterer.

Packages can save you some serious money, especially if you plan on having a lengthy guest list. Some catering packages include appetizers, salad, entrée and dessert (or cake), plus bar services in some cases.

If your caterer does offer multiple packages, ask for sample menus to determine which one works best for you.

6. When does the caterer need finalized choices?

Your caterer needs to know your menu choices by a certain date, so they'll have all the ingredients ready to go for the day of your wedding.

7. When will the tasting take place? Does the caterer offer tastings before being hired?

Reading reviews of a wedding caterer is one thing, but you'll need to taste the food yourself to be sure. Definitely opt to do it beforehand if possible it will allow you to make an informed decision.

8. Will the caterer provide cutlery, plates, napkins, charger plates – and are they extra charges?

If a caterer doesn't outfit their events with these necessary items and you want them, you'll have to rent them yourself, which can quickly add up to your budget. Even if a caterer does have them, ask to see them to make sure they're up to par. Also ask if it comes at an additional charge.

9. Will the caterer provide waiters? How many are included in the package and what's the fee for additional waiters?

Top caterers say they always use their own servers, even if the you want to provide them. They know the ins and outs of how the company operates, so they're better able to provide seamless service. You'll want about 2 waiters for every six tables for a sit-down meal.

10. What will the caterer and their staff wear?

You want to make sure the catering staff dresses appropriately for the tone and style of your wedding – if you're planning a formal black-tie wedding, you might not want waiters in polo shirts.

11. Will the caterer provide drinks, or do you need to handle the it separately?

Why you want to know: Most catering companies supply the drinks, but supplying it yourself can save you money.

12. How do delivery, setup and breakdown work? What does the caterer do and is there an additional fee? How much time will the caterer need to set up? When will the caterer need access to the wedding site?

You need these details in order to coordinate with your wedding venue and determine a time when your caterer can start setting up. You also need to know how much time the caterer needs for clean-up, because some venues may have a restriction on how late staff can stay. Meaning you'll have to pay the wedding venue extra fee for the extra time.

13. Where will the caterer prepare the food? Are there on-site facilities, Bride's parents house? Or the wedding venue will have to provide facilities for them?

If the caterer has to bring in equipment, there may be an additional fee. So before you decide on a company, make sure you know what type of facilities your wedding venue has and the potential obstacles this could pose for the type of caterer.

14. Will the caterer set out the wedding place cards and menus we created?

If the caterer says no, you'll need to enlist the help of your wedding planner, a family member or friend to deal with these wedding details. No matter who is putting them out, give them instructions (and a photo) of how you want them displayed at the wedding reception.

15. Who will oversee the event on the wedding day? Will the same caterer you worked with when planning also oversee meal service on the day? What will happen if he's sick or otherwise unable to be there?

Ideally, the person you worked with from the catering company throughout the planning process (and who best understands your needs) will be your wedding day contact. If this person isn't available, they should have a suitable replacement in mind from the company (ask to meet with this person too).

16. Does the caterer have extra charges, such as a security deposit (caution fee)?

Any extra charges from the caterer are going to affect your bottom line, so it's best to know ahead of time to plan for it.

17. How does the caterer arrange the food on the buffet or plate? Can you see photos of previous presentations from the caterer?

Presentation is everything, and even the most delectable dish can seem unappetizing if poorly presented by the caterer. You've put a lot of time and effort into all of your other wedding details— the food shouldn't be any different.

I hope this helps when selecting your wedding catering vendor.

Olamide~ The Heiress


  1. It really is interesting to be able to learn all the different ways that someone is able to have a successful catering service. I found it interesting that you mentioned to make sure that references are available for that business. That would be a great way to get a general idea of how the business was able to do for a wedding or any kind of event. Thank you for sharing these great tips.

  2. Thank you for your kind words @John. I am glad to be able to give an insight and help the best way I can. Thank you once again.