Choosing a caterer can be an overwhelming task and it seems like your choices are ever increasing. By keeping the following ideas in mind as your shopping caterers, you will be able to make a much better decision on a very important part of your event.
Make Sure Your Caterer has a License and Insurance
Everyone knows someone who’s a caterer. Whether they do it out of a church or a commercial kitchen, it is important to ensure that the caterer you choose is licensed and insured. Having a license means that the caterer’s kitchen will be regularly inspected by the Health Department. It also means that your caterer is serious about what they do and will likely follow through on your event. Having insurance means that if someone were to become ill or a staff member were to accidentally damage something of value or even injure themselves, you would not be held liable.
Catering can be expensive. It will definitely be worth your while to make sure that others have been pleased with your caterer before you spend your hard earned money. Be leery of referral lists provided to you by your caterer. Most likely, these references are biased in some way. You may want to consider choosing a few random dates and asking your caterer if they would give you the names of their clients for those dates. Also, check online resources for reviews from past customers. Sites like weddingwire have great referral systems that prove helpful in narrowing your search. However, if you do come across a bad review, don’t be afraid to talk to your caterer about it and get their side of the story.
Taste their Food
If you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, why should you be expected to spend thousands of dollars on food without tasting it? Many caterers have different policies when it comes to tastings. Some do it for free for a limited number of people on an individual basis. Some will invite you to someone else’s event to see their set up and try the food (Remember, if they do this for you, you can expect that someone will be coming to your event to try food as well). Some hold tasting parties on a monthly or quarterly basis. Some charge a fee that can be applied to balance once you choose to book the caterer. However your caterer chooses to do tastings, be sure to try their food. Doing this will help make sure that you are not disappointed or surprised the day of your event.
Get it in Writing
When a caterer tells you that they can do something, it doesn’t mean that they will. Usually it means that they will once you decide you want to pay for it. So don’t assume anything. A simple rule to remember is that if it is not in writing, it most likely won’t happen. Therefore, as you’re discussing details and options with your caterer, ask them to include them in their contract. Even if the caterer has every intention of fulfilling their verbal promises, it is possible that they will forget what you discussed between now and the day of your event. Having everything in writing will give you peace of mind that your caterer will follow through on all the details that are so important to you.
Be Honest with your Budget
A good caterer will try to work within your budget to provide you with the best possible menu at your price range. Being honest with your caterer about how much you are willing to spend doesn’t necessarily mean that they will try to spend every penny of your budget. Instead, it helps them know which way to steer their sales presentation and menu preparation so that you are comfortable with the price they give you. Also, leaving the budget open will result in very different proposals from each caterer, making it much more difficult to compare apples to apples. The best price doesn’t always mean the best value. Value comes when your caterer knows your budget and can come up with the best possible combination of food items within that budget.
I hope these tips will help you as you plan your exciting day. Feel free to call us at anytime to talk about how Draper’s handles these issues.
- Ryan Draper, Draper’s Catering of Memphis