Catering is typically one of the biggest expenses for any event whether a wedding reception, corporate luncheon or social occasion. The caterer you choose is an important consideration not only for your budget but for the success of your event. Here are some tips we recommend when choosing a caterer:
- Set a catering budget and have a guest count estimate. This helps you narrow potential caterers to those who can best meet your needs within the right price range.
- Be specific on the type of event you’re planning and your expectations for menu and service. It’s important that your expectations align with what your caterer can deliver and within your budget. Are there specific foods you want incorporated into the menu? Do you envision an elaborate setup such as a seated dinner for 150 guests or is your occasion casual with simple execution? Does the caterer have the experience and staff to serve large groups or do they specialize in smaller functions? Does your caterer have a liquor license or do you need to hire a separate bar service? These are some of the important details that affect your budget, flow of the event, and your ultimate satisfaction on your special day.
- Speak with multiple caterers and request proposals from each. The proposals should include details on menu, beverages/alcohol, staff, setup, gratuities, accessories, additional services and similar.
- Only consider caterers that are properly licensed and insured. This is for your protection to ensure food safety and experience. Hiring an unlicensed caterer puts you at risk for liability if your guests get sick from an inexperienced provider.
- Your caterer should be responsive. If they don’t return phone calls or respond to email in a timely manner before they are hired, what level of service can you expect once you have signed a contract?
- Request references before making a decision. Contact other clients and ask about their experiences with the caterer. You should be assured of their reputation, professionalism, and execution of events similar to yours.
- Ask about the cancellation policy. Unexpected circumstances can happen resulting in cancellation of an event and catering services. A catering contract should include procedures and penalties should you need to cancel as well as if a caterer does not uphold their end of the contract. Those policies should be in writing as part of the signed contract.
The Place at Harbour Crossing offers flexibility in your choice of caterer, no matter the event. We are happy to share our list of preferred caterers with whom we have existing relationships. Our preferred vendors range from restaurants offering quick, easy deliveries for lunch meetings to full-service caterers orchestrating seated dinners for 200 guests. We also allow clients to use licensed caterers of their choice.