There are many decisions you will have to make when planning the perfect wedding. Everything from the date and venue to centerpieces and playlists all have to be decided on prior to the big day. If your wedding venue requires you to hire your own caterer, finding the perfect one for you can be time-consuming and frustrating. While the obvious “are you available on my date” question will help narrow your search, asking more specific questions upfront can relieve you of some last minute stresses. To help ensure your big day goes exactly as planned, we have put together a list of the top eight questions you should ask a potential wedding caterer.
Moving beyond the “how much” and “do you have my date open” questions, ask your potential wedding caterer about their experience. If you have already chosen a venue, ask if the caterer has ever done events there before, and if so, how often? Choosing a caterer that has experience serving food at your desired location can help bring attention to any problems they may have encountered previously.
There are a lot of things that may or may not be included in your caterer’s fees. Ask your caterer if tax, gratuities, service fees, staff, bartenders, alcohol, mixers, water, dish rentals, serving ware and cake cutting fees are included in their quoted price. If not, it may just be an added expense for you.
As one of the staples of any good wedding, there are never too many questions to ask about the food. When it comes to the menu, are there preset options or can you create a custom menu for your event? If there is a special dish you’d like served, will they accommodate that? While some catering companies specialize in various types of food, find out if the caterer offers different dietary options.
Organic, locally sourced, gluten-free, kosher, and vegan are all different options that may appeal to you, but may not be offered by a particular caterer. If your caterer uses frozen food, that may be something to consider when weighing options between fresh, locally sourced caterers.
It may seem like a given but ask your caterer if there are any permits needed or if they will provide them. Establishing if they have a Liquor license prior to committing will avoid hosting an unintentional “dry” wedding. If there are permits needed, whose responsibility is it to obtain? Anyone who is serving alcohol needs to have this type of insurance, especially wedding caterers.
Once you have sorted out licenses and permits, ask your caterer what brands of alcohol will be served. Many couples choose to have a signature drink available, will they accommodate the special request? For many reasons there will be guests in attendance who will not drink alcoholic beverages, what do they the charge for non-alcoholic beverages? Finally, a question often forgot when booking a company- how long will alcohol be served? Agreeing on a plan before the end of the reception will reduce any last minute additions to the bill.
Coordinate with your caterer the logistics of the event, depending on the venue, different service options should be considered. Does the caterer provide a waitstaff or the venue? Some caterers say they prefer using their own serving personnel, even if the wedding venue’s staff is available. If so, how many staff are included in the package? You’ll want about three waiters for every six tables for a sit-down meal. Is there a fee for additional waiters? How does delivery, setup and breakdown work? How much time will the caterer need to set up? What is the protocol for overtime fees If the event runs longer than contracted? Take this planning time to maximize productivity between the venue’s staff and caterers.
When planning a wedding, the amount of additional fees may surprise you. When interviewing caterers, be sure to ask about what services are or are not covered under the flat fee. Standard with most catering companies, a scheduled food tasting will take place to decide on the menu. How will the tasting be charged? If you plan on inviting children to the reception, is there an additional charge for kid’s meals? Discuss dessert options such as if they offer package upgrades such as chocolate fountains, espresso machines or special displays like ice sculptures. You may decide you want to opt in or out of any of these.
Finding the perfect venue and caterer can take time and effort, but it doesn’t have to! If you or someone you know is looking for a beautiful venue and exceptional cuisine, look no further than Brooklake Country Club! Located just 45 minutes from New York City, you can expect Brooklake Country Club’s professional staff to create a truly memorable experience. To learn more about catering options, contact our office at 973-377-2235. We look forward to hearing from you!