The two types of caterers include in-house and off-premise. On-site caterers are connected to a particular facility, such as a hotel, and supply catering services when you book your event at that venue. Off-premise caterers supply food, tableware and settings for events at indoor or outdoor locations. Always sample the catering menu. Here are some additional tips to help you hire a caterer for your wedding.
- Great food on a modest budget. Wedding caterers are proficient at building a menu with your preferences and budget in mind. A small budget is fine as long as you use it properly. Limit your protein to something like chicken or pork and you can do an interesting pasta dish or a fabulous salad.
- Plans for tips and taxes. When the cooking is done on-site, it’s considered a personal service and charging sales tax isn’t required. However, if the menu items are prepared at a different facility, the catering company will tax it at your state’s prevailing rate. It’s advisable to ask if the price includes taxes to avoid any surprise hits to your budget. Also, make sure to determine if the tip is included in the estimate. If your wedding is large, a combined tip for the chef and servers should be approximately 35 percent. Gratuity is a separate check or cash.
- Determine and be clear on inclusion. Caterers can provide different services, ranging from food only to food and servers to food, servers, tables and linens. Find out if service and cleanup is included, in addition to how much food you can expect and how long the caterer will remain on-site. Another area to discuss is the bar. Some customers buy liquor from bulk stores to offer their guests a signature cocktail. It is common for caterers to charge for a bartender and provide mixes.
- Questions to ask. Speak with a few caterers over the phone before setting in-person interviews. Be ready to provide details, such as your wedding date, the time of your reception, the style and formality, an estimated number of guests, and if you need an off-premise caterer. This is an ideal time to request sample menus and pricing information.
After you have met with several caterers, compare notes on each one to determine which caterer offers the most quality services within your budget. When you’ve reached a decision, make sure you set up another meeting to discuss every detail of your reception menu. The reception is one aspect of your wedding that you can usually count on your guests remembering long after the wedding day, so it’s essential to decide who will cater your wedding thoughtfully.