Occasionally, I will get messages wondering about our services. Not surprising since people want to get the most bang for their buck. Many times, the bride (or party-planner) isn’t sure what questions she (or he) should be asking so here are some ideas for you as you prepare for your next party.
- Do you have a food license?
This is probably the most important question. There are a few reasons you should consider this (and why you should consider not have family members or friends prepare a meal for your wedding or party guests).
First, you have your safety issues. If a business has a food license, then that means someone from the health department has been out, checked over the area where meals are being prepared, and deemed them worthy of cooking for others. When you rely on family and friends to cook your meal, no matter how wonderful a cook they are, there is no one checking on their food handling capabilities.
Second, a business with a food license, takes the liability if something was to happen to the guests at your party. While we all hope this should never be an issue, do you really want to risk family members being blamed for food poisoning? Catering businesses need to prove that they have the capability to provide safe food, and know the proper temps for serving food.
- Do you have references?
Another excellent question. References mean that a caterer has been doing this and has a track record of making people happy: providing a good menu, food that tastes good, and price that is affordable. A good caterer should be able to provide at least three recent (within 3-6 months), non-family references. Even better is when they have repeat business, but as a caterer, that can be slightly more difficult depending on how often a person plans a party.
- Do you require a deposit? What are my payment options?
This is a double question, as money tends to be. Be sure you know, up front, what you are expected to pay before an event and when the final payment is due. It’s also a good idea to check on whether the deposit (and payments made) are refundable in case of a change of plans. Many caterers do require payment in full by the event. Other financial questions might be whether they accept credit cards and checks. I would be leery of a business that accepted cash only.
- Will I get a written quote? How long is the quote good for?
Make sure a caterer is willing to give you a written quote prior to making any definite plans, but find out how long they will honor the price they have given you as well. You will want time to research your catering options and credibility of potential caterers. Nailing down a caterer a year in advance is great from the standpoint that you can mark that off your “to-do” list but it is also one of the most expensive (and remembered) parts of your wedding so you want to make sure you have made the right decision.
- Do you provide servers? Tableware? Do you charge mileage?
Along with these questions should be whether there are additional fees. Also, make sure to read the quote/contract. If these things aren’t covered, ask the question. The last thing you want is to be surprised by additional fees on the day of your party.
Choosing a caterer doesn’t have to be difficult. You just need to be prepared, do your research, and know what questions to ask.