Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Questions for Your Caterer

WGIC is currently working with an out-of-state caterer for one of our clients and we wanted to pass along some important information to you!

There are many things you need to be sure of when working with a caterer for you next event - whether right around the corner or on the other side of the country.  Take a look at the check list we've put together here for some things to keep in mind:

Date of the Event
-Be sure the caterer has the date of your event available and that the event start and end times are clearly outlined in your contract

Hours of Service
-Most caterers have a set number of hours for which they will provide service. Most include set up and strike (tear down, clearing of equipment, clean up, etc.), but both will depend on the company as to the duration. Be sure that your interests are represented in the event contract, this is your insurance policy.

-Finalizing the caterer, guest list, and menu are all very important, but making sure you have enough space is probably the most important detail. Will you have tables and chairs? Are you in an open space and require guests to provide their own seating? These are questions that need to be answered prior to finalizing a caterer.

-This is a big one! Be sure that both you and the caterer are on the same page. Being very detailed and 'knit-picky' is absolutely okay here. You want to make sure that you know exactly what you are getting for your money.  Is desert included? How many main courses are available? Are drinks included? What kind of drinks? Are alcoholic beverages included or just water and soda? Is there an extra charge for alcohol?

-Food without utensils, can be challenging! Be sure to outline in your contract who is providing the 'hardware'.  This includes: plates, utensils, garbage cans and bags, cups, napkins, etc.  Also make sure you know who is disposing of the garbage at the end of the event.

Final Guarantee
-All caterers require a final guarantee.  Most have a deadline of 72 hours prior to the event.  Caterers need this final number to place orders with their suppliers so they are able to be adequately equipped for your event.  If you are still unsure about what your numbers are going to be within this time frame WGIC suggests you guarantee roughly 5% over what your RSVP numbers are. This is to ensure a little leeway.

-WGIC's client is throwing an event on the campus of an SEC school.  This brings into consideration permits. Be sure that your event does not require any additional permits.  If your event is in a location that does require permits, check with your caterer to ensure they have the necessary documentation. If you're working with local banquet halls or event spaces check with your planner to ensure additional costs are not incurred.

-The most imporatnt aspect of any event is the contract. We've covered a few areas above that should be outlined in any event contract (beverages, location, cost, what is being offered for the cost, permits, menu, etc.), but it is very necessary to stress how important the event contract actually is.  Review all contracts very carefully. Contracts are the outline that all vendors go by; if your interests are not clearly represented in your event contract you are the only one to blame for miscommunication.

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