Getting What You Want From Your Vendors: Your Caterer

The food at your wedding will undoubtedly be one of the most important aspects, not to mention one of the bigger costs you will encounter. While there is a general order of operation when it comes to your caterer, each one will have its own style and way of doing things, so you'll want to be sure to ask the right questions.

{Note: this post will mainly address the outcome of your wedding day. Questions and procedures for hiring your caterer will come in another post}

How Many Servers & Staff Persons Will You Provide For My Event?

This is an important question, because not all caterers will automatically supply extra servers/waiters/staff. If you're having a buffet, especially, many caterers will take your approximate guest count and supply only the amount of staff needed to manage your buffet.

If you are holding your reception at a venue that doesn't have extra staff on hand to bus the tables and take care of the trash, your guests will drown in a sea of plates, napkins, and cups.

If you do need to request extra waiters to your catering contract, I always recommend you have them there only for the peak hours. For example, your caterers will need to arrive at least a few hours before your reception is set to start. However, request that your extra waitstaff come right before the dinner hour, that way they are still there after dinner to help bus the tables as your guests finish up.

How Will You Set Up My Buffet?

If you have a wedding planner, this question will have been asked well in advance. But if you don't, make sure you sit down with your caterer to go over the layout of your venue and to talk logistics. If you have a 200 person wedding, you'll want to reduce long lines as much as possible. Your caterer should have some good suggestions- such as a double-sided buffet to cut down on wait time. Stations are another hot idea, as it creates mingling and gets your guests moving around. Just be sure to have at least a few stations of your main entrees, otherwise you'll just create lines again (as in, your guests will crowd the Beef Carving Station, while your Green Salad station may be quite a bit less popular in comparison).

Can I Keep the Left Over Food?

Some venues & caterers won't allow left over food to be taken, mostly for liability reasons. But if you are able to, be sure to ask whether you need to supply baggies or containers, and/or coolers or a spot to keep the food in.

Is The Gratuity Included In My Banquet Order?

Many brides are surprised to learn that often gratuity is not included. Many a Father of The Bride have been hit with a surprise bill at the end- not exactly the way to end a lovely evening!
Just make sure you cover all contract points up front- write down any and all questions you may have so you don't forget to ask them.


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