Thursday, 25 January 2007

Reception Catering - Where to start?

1. Firstly…

  • Finalise your reception venue, date and time.
  • Know what reception rentals you need to provide
  • Check with your venue coordinator if you can engage a caterer of your choice or can only use someone recommended by the venue management
  • Start with someone recommended by the venue management as they would most likely have a good reputation, and are familiar with the site kitchen, layout, coordinator, etc.
  • If you prefer to engage someone else, get 5-6 recommendations from trusted friends and family

2. Know how much you are willing to spend

  • Ask yourself how important a role food and drinks play in your dream wedding
  • Most couples spend roughly 30-50% of their total wedding budget on receptions
  • Factors that affect catering costs:
  • Number of guests
  • Number of courses and food choices
  • Cost of ingredients
  • Rentals
  • The way the food is served (seated service, tray passed or buffet style)
  • Caterer’s level of expertise

3. To maximise your time, do preliminary research over the phone

  • Is the caterer available on your wedding date?
  • Can they work within your budget?

4. Schedule meetings with your top three or four picks

  • Have a clear idea of your dream event before the meeting
  • Describe your event clearly to the caterer
  • Questions to ask:
    What range of menu options and courses can you offer that are within my budget?
    How much deposit do you require to reserve your services for my wedding date?
    What is your payment schedule like?
    What is your refund or cancellation policy?
    Do you charge extra to pour coffee for guests?
    Do you have a minimum and maximum requirement for number of guests?
    When do you require the final head count?
    Who will oversee the event and catering staff?
    How many servers will be at my event?
    Do you offer any rentals? If not, can you coordinate rentals, including pick-up and return, with a third party? Can I bring in my own rentals if the cost is less?
    How much time do you need to set up and break down?
    Do you provide bartenders? If yes, how many do I need?
    Do you provide liquor? What is the cost per drink/bottle? Will you buy back unopened bottles?
    Can I bring my own liquor? Is there a corkage fee?
    How do you handle guests who require vegetarian or special meals?
    Do you provide food for the photographer, musicians and/or videographer?
    When do I have to finalise the menu? When will you provide the final cost?
    Will you pack a to-go snack for the bride and groom?
    Will you provide a wedding cake? What about a groom’s cake?
    Will you provide cake boxes for the guests to take home the cake?
    Will you box the top tier of the cake for freezing?
    Do you offer food tasting?

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