Wedding Planning -- Selecting a Caterer by jalmaricat

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									Wedding Planning - Selecting a Caterer

There are many important tasks involved in wedding planning. But the
success of your reception can largely hinge on having the right food,
beverage, table settings and serving staff. In short, good catering is
key.

For very small weddings on a strict budget this effort might be
undertaken by some friends or family members. But most couples will want
to hire a professional. Also, even if a wedding planner or bridal
consultant was engaged to take care of things, the couple will still find
it wise to be involved in this decision.

Tactful questions to the potential caterer should never be resisted or
generate hostility. If they do, that's a good sign to move on to the next
candidate. Here are some items that should be covered:

Cost and scheduling are the first considerations. The professional
selected will have to be able to do the job when you need and within your
budget.

It isn't necessary to have an exact date and total cost for the first
interview. But at least the month, preferably the week, the wedding is to
be held is important. Good caterers often book up months, even as long as
two years, in advance. Having a specific date is, of course, always
preferable. Simply ask if they're available then.

Covering cost is critical. It's important to be thorough and detailed.
The level of detail need not be granular during the first conversation.
An overall estimate of the number of guests and the type of food and
beverage desired will be enough to get a rough estimate. That will tell
you if you want to continue the conversation.

Take care, though, to advance the discussion to details once you have a
caterer you might want to work with. Final costs may differ from the
initial estimate by as much as 10-15% and still be reasonable. But if the
final bill is 25% or more higher than the estimate something has gone
awry.

That higher figure doesn't prove the caterer was a con artist. Honest
misunderstandings do happen. To avoid them, list what is to be included
in the price. Caterers will base their rough estimate on a per head
count. Prices vary from $10-$100 per person or more depending on what is
served and what extra services are included.

List as much as possible and review the details when you've narrowed down
the choice of caterer to 1-3 companies. Be sure to ask about things like
whether linens are included. Find out how much it costs (and how long is
required) for pre-set up and post-reception clean-up. Ask how many staff
people the cost includes. Compare the cost of sit-down meals with a
buffet.

There are other common sense criteria to employ, as well. References are
important and you should make the effort to ask for and actually talk to
some provided by each candidate caterer. Ask whether they're licensed and
bonded (insurance the company pays to protect against accidents by their
employees).

Once these basics are covered you can drill down to more narrow (but
still important) issues. Find out who will be at the actual reception.
Ask to meet them. Find out whether they will serve liquor and at what
cost. Ask whether they'll provide a cake and ask to see some designs of
past efforts.

Once you reach the stage of making a final selection, be sure to have a
written contract. Most caterers will use one for all engagements. Read it
carefully, including the (sometimes boring) fine print. Here you'll find
out about any 'extras' that can cost you greatly. Remember: everything is
negotiable.

								
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