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Hiring Caterers

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When planning a wedding, anniversary, or any celebration, hiring caterers is an important decision. Leaving the cooking, serving, and cleaning to a professional organization removes a great deal of pressure if you are the host, and will help make the gathering a great success.

What to ask a caterer

It is important to meet with and interview prospective caterers before hiring one. During the interview you should ask for references and for an opportunity to sample their product (if you have not already done so). Those catering services that also operate a restaurant provide the best opportunity. If they cater only, make arrangements for a taste test.

During the meeting, you must ask about rates, method of serving, and different meal options. It is also important to ask about table setups. If they do not provide linens, and other dining equipment, you will have to arrange for these.

Setting the menu

Once you have decided on what caterers you will use, schedule a second meeting to set the menu and work out the particulars of the event. Among the things to consider are:

  • What is the deposit, what percentage is refundable in the event of cancellation, and what is the cancellation deadline?
  • What food to serve – This will depend on your budget and how the food will be served. Buffet lines offer more versatility, while a sit down meal is a more elegant presentation. Will you offer :
    • Several courses
    • Hot or cold food
    • Finger food and crudités
    • Full meals
  • What are the pricing options for different foods and presentation styles
  • If it is a wedding, anniversary, or birthday who will provide the cake – not all caterers have access to a qualified baker.
  • Who is responsible for setting up the room – will the caterers take care of it, or is it the responsibility of the host?
  • Who is responsible for cleaning up after the event – it may be the caterer, the staff of the hall, or the host

Armed with these questions, and their answers, you should be able to work out an equitable arrangement.

Once all the details have been hashed out, put them in writing, have both parties sign them, and make sure both sides have copies. While a reputable professional will have these already, it is a good idea to create one for those who cater on the side – this protects both parties.

Good caterers are an essential part of any major event, and contribute greatly to its success. Using recommendations and personal experience should be a good way to find a caterer that will be a delight for you and your guests.

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