In most of the regular marriage venues, you have in-house or affiliated caterers. While discussing with the caterer, keep in mind the following:
- Number of people expected to dine.
- Cost per plate.
- Manner of serving (Buffet/Served).
- The menu (Veg/Non-veg).
Keep in mind that a good caterer should be flexible and eager to work with you to plan your perfect event. First impressions might not always be right. So make it a point after your initial meeting to ask yourself, "Did I like them?" If your personalities clash, or if something seems amiss, find someone else. You won`t have time to start from scratch later. Then, after you cover the basics (Are you available on my wedding day? Can I afford you? Do I like your food?), follow this simple checklist of questions:
Can I get some references? Ask past customers about the caterer`s food, personality, professional skills and ability to handle the unexpected.
Can I taste the food? Good caterers will let you sample foods to help you decide on your menu. If you don`t like what you taste, tell them they may be willing to change the recipe. You should also ask to see photos of food they`ve served at previous weddings to check presentation.
How big are the portions? Don`t forget to ask about portion size you don`t want to be unpleasantly surprised by teaspoonful servings or gargantuan servings that are bound to be wasted.
Will you provide tables, plates, glasses, napkins and tablecloths? Some caterers provide everything. Others, zilch. The reception hall can often supply what the caterer cannot.
Can you help with decorations? You`ll have a hundred things to deal with on your wedding day. If hiring a professional decorator isn`t in the budget, make a checklist of decoration items and ask your caterer if they can handle them while setting up.
How many service people will be on hand? Good service has a big effect on the pace and atmosphere of the wedding/reception. Check with the caterers as to how many servers will be provided and then make sure the same number show up.
Who will be in charge while the meal is served? Ideally, your caterer should be present, but if he or she can`t be there, get the name of the person who will be in charge on the big day. Someone senior should be there to oversee the staff and deal with little snags before they snowball into major embarrassments. If possible, work with this person (or at least meet him or her) during the planning stages so that you`ll have a good working relationship established when the big day arrives.
What are the hidden costs, such as overtime, tax and tip? Discuss all unexpected costs with the caterer in advance so you aren`t surprised when you get the final bill.
What are the financial arrangements? How big of a deposit does the caterer need? When is it due? When is the balance due? What if I cancel? Is there a refund policy if something goes wrong that is the caterer`s fault? Work out financial details well in advance. There`s nothing worse than doing the dishes at your own reception!