When I ask my couples what is most important to them when it comes to their wedding day they have varied answers, but the most common is that their guests have an amazing time. Now there are a lot of things that play into guests having a good time, but I can tell you that good food counts for at least 50% of those reasons. People just want to have a yummy meal that is hot, timely, and good. Choosing the right caterer can be key in making sure you have happy guests who want to stay and party all night with you!
This month, Andrea from Brancato’s Catering is helping me with the best questions to ask potential caterers. Brancato’s Catering is a family-owned business originally founded in 1942 as Robinson Catering. Owned by the Brancato family since 1968, Brancato’s Catering has evolved into Kansas City’s premier off-premises caterer; able to serve 20 or 20,000 with quality and ease. I’ve had their food, and it’s seriously to die for! I always hope to be near them at bridal shows 😉
10 Questions to Ask When Booking Your Caterer
1 | What do you include in your price per person?
Every caterer sets their pricing up differently, so it is important to get in detail everything that is included in that price. For example, our menus are priced to include catering equipment, service staff, tables and linens for the food tables in addition to the actual menu items. Other caterers may have line item charges for service staff and equipment. When you are comparing apples to apples it is important to know exactly what is included in your pricing.
2 | I really like this specific menu, but I’m wondering if I can add this specific item from another menu?
Each caterer will have a different policy when it comes to additional items not on the main menu. It’s important to know how flexible each caterer might be to know what your options are. It is our policy to meet your needs to the best of our ability. We never want you to feel like the food experience you get with our company is a carbon copy of someone else’s. We always strive to meet your requests and often times do customize our menus to fit your needs and tastes so you are getting exactly what you are looking for in your menu.
3 | Who will be overseeing during my event?
They call it wedding season for a reason! While we would love our coordinators to be able to be there for each and every wedding that they book, some weekends they may have 3-5 (or more) events in a day and need to share their time throughout those different events. It is important for you to know the staff that will be in charge of overseeing everything should you need anything the day of your event.
4 | What time do you need access to begin set-up/are there any specific needs you have?
Depending on the needs of your event, the timeline for set-up can vary greatly. We always prefer to discuss in detail everything that will be taking place during set-up and the event as well as who is in charge of what so we can be sure to have a well-rounded view of what is taking place. It is important in that discussion to understand how much time is needed based on the complexity of your food service so you know a reasonable expectation for your caterer to have access to the space. Sometimes, table set-ups and tear-downs fall under our purview so knowing how much time that will take will give your venue an idea of when people will be arriving to set-up.
5 | When do you need final guest count and payment?
This is great information to have up front for many reasons. For budgeting, understanding what is expected for deposits and final payment will allow you to make sure deadlines are understood and kept. For planning purposes, this will give also give you an idea of when RSVP deadline for your invitations should be due.
6 | HELP, my cousins are now able to fly in for my wedding and I need to add another table three days before the event, is this even possible?
Another point to talk about in the beginning of planning would be what your caterer’s policy is on last-minute changes. Because we start planning weeks (or sometimes) months ahead with product ordering, equipment inventory and staffing these last-minute changes may result in added charges to your event. We certainly will do everything we can to accommodate those changes and make it as stress free for you as possible. It’s important to understanding what your caterer’s policy is for last minute changes to know what those changes can do to your final bill.
7 | Are you able to handle the specific dietary needs of my guests (or myself)?
Our goal as a caterer is to make sure everyone enjoys the best meal possible no matter their dietary needs. That being said, all kitchens are not created equal. For example, very few catering kitchens have the ability to have a true kosher set-up. It is always best to disclose those needs you may have early in discussions so there is proper time for your caterer to plan and order any special product needed well in advance of your event.
8 | How will you be displaying items?
Knowing how you caterer will plan to build your food display (where applicable) will allow you to understand the space needs they will have, and what your reception will look like to accommodate those needs. This is often a conversation that happens between the venue and caterer directly, but knowing this information will give you an idea of your reception set-up, and what additional features you can have in your space (ie- photo booth, game area, etc).
9 | How many meetings/tastings do you recommend?
A big part of planning can not only be figuring out the details, but knowing what is expected from you, from your vendors. We understand that you will have a lot of expectations on your time as you are planning your wedding, so knowing ahead of time what kind of planning time to expect with your caterer can get you ahead of the game for scheduling. Sometimes these meetings can be face to face or on the phone, but opening that line of communication will make your planning go much smoother while avoiding the last-minute rush to try to get things done.
10 | Do you have any recommendations?
Still deciding on the perfect venue? Not sure where to begin with your florist selection? Ask us! We always love sharing our knowledge with our clients and being able to provide input on your event beyond the food aspect. We have great relationships with a variety of vendors and know who to recommend to make your event a success.
One favorite tip from Andrea…”Share your Pinterest/wedding vision board with us! We try really hard to be a cohesive part of your event. We want our product and displays to mimic the look and feel of your special day, and one super easy way for us to really understand what your dream day looks like is those inspiration pictures. If your color scheme is golds and blushes, we certainly are not going to put silver chafers and black linens on your buffet line. We are always looking for little ways that we can enhance your event and knowing your vision ahead of time goes a long way towards being able to do so.”
For those out there who are engaged or married…what questions did you ask your potential caterers? I’d love to hear other questions that you found to be helpful in your search for the best food for your guests!
10 Questions to Ask:
Each month there will be a new post from a new vendor, so keep checking back!!