I Do (Eat) (cont.)
Will I Get to Taste the Food?
“A tasting should be standard for a wedding,” says Evie Loftus, the vice president of sales for the Main Ingredient in Annapolis, Maryland. Many companies put together private tastings based on their menu proposals for clients, but other caterers may only provide group tastings for several clients at a time, with a general sampling of foods on offer. Some will charge for a tasting, and there may be a limited number of people you can bring with you.
What Should Be in My Contract?
- The date of the event.
- The catering company’s arrival time.
- The duration of the event. This should clarify how many hours the company has agreed to be there before it starts charging overtime.
- Overtime rates.
- The hourly rate for any unforeseen duties, such as the venue asking the caterer to remove garbage from the site. This may or may not be the same as the overtime rate, so it’s important to discuss.
- When the final head count is due.
- The cancellation policy (often graduated, so the further out from the event date that you cancel, the less money you owe).
- When the deposits and payments are due and what the refund policy is on the deposit (it’s often nonrefundable). Payments and deposits are usually graduated, so if the event is a year away, you may pay in four installments, but if it’s three months away, you may pay in two installments.
- A service fee. Typically covers things like payroll taxes or transportation for waitstaff. May or may not include a gratuity for servers, so ask.
- A set gratuity. There may be a line item on your contract for gratuity, but ask if it’s for the company or for the servers. If you want to define a tip for your servers and reception staff in the contract, make that clear.
- Stipulations about what happens to leftover food: Many companies include clauses that note that they are not responsible for food once it leaves the event, and some won’t let you take food to avoid liability issues.
- Substitution clauses that outline what happens if a menu item suddenly becomes unavailable. Typically the caterer will be required to call and discuss a substitute with you before changing the menu.
- Decisions about vendor meals. Caterers usually take care of their own staff, but if the band or DJ wants to eat, who’s paying for it? How much will it cost? Will those individuals use disposable serving ware or will additional rentals be needed?
Should I Try to Cut Costs by Renting the Chairs, Tables, and Tableware Myself?
Vickie Peterson, who does business development for Ravishing Radish Catering in Seattle, says doing your own rentals is a bad way to try to save money. “[People] end up breaking a few plates and find out how insanely costly it is to cover those charges. It’s sad to find out you’re paying $90 to replace a linen you rented for $12.”