Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer Before you Say "I Do"

Our most famous wedding couple The Obamas

When we catered their wedding at the South Shore Cultural Center, who knew that one day our life long client, the Obamas would occupy the White House.

For most events, catering generally carries the highest expense and has the most responsibility. If it’s a wedding, corporate or social event, there are some very important questions that need to be asked when selecting your caterer for your event. Catering companies differ based on the services that each company offers. Do they provide decorations, props, or staffing? Are they properly licensed to do the job that is needed? A drop-off at your home verses a multitude of guests at a country club dictates a certain type of service.

Catering isn’t just about cooking, there are a multitude of moving parts utilized to insure that all of the pressure is taken away from you, the bride, so that you can enjoy your day.

We’ve compiled the top 5 questions you should ask before you say “I do.”

1. Let’s cut to the chase, with my budget are you able to provide the service that I want?

Start with a realistic budget and tell the caterer. Don’t think that if you tell them your budget, the price increases. It’s the complete opposite, sharing your budget upfront not only gives the companies working parameters and speeds up the entire process. Imagine you have a budget of $5,000.00 and the proposal comes in at $12,000.00, you’re in shock, the rep has to start the process all over, pushing everything back for a couple of days. Here’s a budget hack, divide your final number by the number of guests that are going to attend. Is it fast food dollars or high end restaurant dollars? Besides, be open and honest about how much you have to spend, we are here to serve YOU.

2. Find out if they are properly licensed.

Licensing is imperative in the food industry. Make sure your caterer has all of the credentials necessary to protect you and your guests. A licensed caterer has passed all city and state regulations and is a viable company with a facility, not your house kitchen. Be especially sensitive when alcohol is involved. Being a “licensed” bartender is not the same as having a liquor license in the eyes of the state. In order to have a state and city liquor license the caterer has to go through background checks, have their facility inspected and follow strict guidelines given to us by the municipalities. Also, the Illinois liquor commission doesn’t allow caterers to sell alcohol on a cash basis to guests, only serve. DON’T BE FOOLED. We are one of the few caterers that has all the necessary credentials that allow us to come into most facilities for receptions.

3. How long have they been in business?

Longevity says a lot about an organization. It says the company is dependable which is extremely important because so much of the event centers around the caterer. You want someone skilled with experience that understands what it takes to make an event a success. You want to look good in front of your guests and not have to worry about a thing.

4. Find out what type of service they offer?

Do they specialize in beautiful buffets, extraordinary stations and/or elegant sit-downs. Do they provide breakdown and setup services? Are labor and bar service included, or do you have to find your own? Can they bring in equipment such as tables, chairs, stemware and dishes?

5. How much time are they allowing themselves for setup and breakdown?

This will tell you how timely they are. There is nothing worse than the caterer arriving at your event while the guests are there. It’s impossible to turn it around in time for your event for setup. A good caterer typically arrives at least two hours in advance, depending on the location and demands of your reception. It usually takes about an hour or so to breakdown and clean the room. The details should be completely explained in the proposal process.

Weddings demand a lot of details go into planning a flawless event. Make sure you ask these 5 questions as well as other questions before selecting your caterer. If you are in the Chicagoland area, we invite you to talk with our experts about your upcoming big day and find out what it like to be treated as a VIP celebrity. Fanfares specializes in taking all of the stress and anxiety out of your wedding.

PS: When we catered their wedding at the South Shore Cultural Center, who knew that one day our life long client, the Obamas would occupy the White House.


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