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THE ULTIMATE CHECKLIST!

15

QUESTIONS

your caterer must answer

1

What's Included

1. Clarify Specific Services: Ask the caterer to outline exactly what is included in their catering packages, such as food options, beverages, staffing, and any additional services like setup and breakdown.

   

2. Inquire About Extras: Question the caterer about any additional items or services that may be included or available for an extra fee, such as linens, tableware, decorations, or specialty rentals.

   

3. Understand Limitations: Ensure you understand any limitations or restrictions within the catering package, such as guest count thresholds, menu customization options, or specific venue requirements that may impact the services provided.

 

2

Dietary Restrictions

1. Dietary Accommodations: Inquire about the caterer's ability to accommodate specific dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal, or food allergies, ensuring that all guests can enjoy the meal safely.

 

2. Menu Flexibility: Ask if the caterer can customize menu options to meet various dietary needs and preferences, and if they can provide alternative dishes or substitutions to accommodate guests with restrictions.

 

3. Cross-Contamination Measures: Question the caterer about their protocols for preventing cross-contamination in food preparation and serving areas to ensure the safety of guests with allergies or intolerances.

3

Tastings

1. Tasting Availability: Inquire about the availability of tastings and whether they are complimentary or if there is a fee associated with them, ensuring you have the opportunity to sample the menu before making final decisions.

 

2. Tasting Options: Ask about the range of menu items available for tasting and whether they can accommodate specific requests or preferences, allowing you to experience a variety of dishes to ensure they align with your vision for the event.

 

3. Tasting Experience: Question the caterer about the logistics of the tasting experience, including the timing, location, and whether they provide feedback forms or consultations to discuss menu options and make any necessary adjustments to ensure satisfaction on the day of the event.

4

Staff Attire

1. Dress Code: Inquire about the caterer's dress code for servers, bartenders, and chefs at the event, ensuring that their attire aligns with the formality and theme of your wedding and enhances the overall aesthetic.

 

2. Professional Appearance: Discuss expectations for the appearance of catering staff, including cleanliness, grooming, and uniform presentation, ensuring a professional and polished appearance that reflects positively on your event.

 

3. Coordination with Theme: Clarify whether the caterer can accommodate any specific requests for themed attire or customized uniforms for catering staff, ensuring that their appearance complements the overall style and ambiance of your wedding.

5

Setup/ Tear down

1. Arrival and Departure Times: Inquire about the caterer's schedule for setup and teardown, including what time they plan to arrive at the venue to begin preparations and what time they expect to complete teardown and depart from the premises, ensuring alignment with the venue's event timeline and any logistical considerations.

 

2. Setup Logistics: Discuss the details of the setup process, including how the caterer plans to coordinate with other vendors and the venue staff, the amount of time required for setting up tables, food stations, and other equipment, and any specific requirements or accommodations needed for the catering setup, ensuring smooth and efficient execution on the day of the event.

 

3. Teardown Procedures: Clarify the caterer's procedures for teardown and cleanup after the event, including how they plan to handle the removal of equipment, leftover food, and other items from the venue, the timeframe for completing teardown and departure, and any additional services offered for post-event cleanup or disposal, ensuring a prompt and thorough cleanup process to restore the venue to its original condition.

6

Bar Service

1. Beverage Options: Inquire about the caterer's beverage offerings, including whether they provide a full bar service with a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as options for specialty cocktails, signature drinks, and custom drink menus, ensuring a diverse selection to suit your preferences and guest preferences.

 

2. Bartender Services: Discuss the caterer's bartender services, including the availability of professional bartenders to prepare and serve drinks, their level of experience and training in mixology and responsible alcohol service, and any additional fees or charges associated with bartender staffing, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable drinking experience for your guests.

 

3. Beverage Coordination: Clarify how the caterer coordinates beverage service with the overall event timeline, including setup, replenishment, and cleanup of the bar area, as well as any protocols for managing alcohol consumption and ensuring guest safety, ensuring efficient and responsible beverage service throughout your wedding celebration.

7

Allergies/ Intolerances?

1. Allergen Awareness: Inquire about the caterer's protocols for addressing food allergies and intolerances, including their understanding of common allergens, such as gluten, dairy, nuts, and shellfish, and their commitment to ensuring the safety of guests with dietary restrictions through ingredient transparency and cross-contamination prevention measures.

 

2. Menu Customization: Discuss the caterer's options for customizing menus to accommodate guests with food allergies or intolerances, including alternative ingredient substitutions, allergen-free dishes, and separate meal preparations to ensure that all guests can enjoy a safe and satisfying dining experience regardless of their dietary needs.

 

3. Communication and Coordination: Clarify how the caterer communicates and coordinates with clients and guests regarding food allergies and intolerances, including protocols for gathering allergy information, labeling menu items with allergen information, and coordinating with venue staff and other vendors to ensure that dietary restrictions are accommodated and communicated effectively throughout the event.

8

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free?

1. Menu Variety: Inquire about the caterer's range of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, including whether they offer diverse and flavorful dishes that cater to these dietary preferences, ensuring that guests with dietary restrictions have ample choices and can enjoy a satisfying dining experience.

 

2. Ingredient Transparency: Discuss the caterer's commitment to ingredient transparency and labeling, including how they identify vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu items, and inquire about their protocols for preventing cross-contamination and ensuring the safety of guests with dietary restrictions.

 

3. Customization Options: Clarify the caterer's flexibility in customizing menus to accommodate specific dietary needs or preferences, including options for modifying existing dishes, creating specialized dishes upon request, and accommodating additional dietary restrictions beyond vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, ensuring that all guests can enjoy a tailored dining experience that meets their individual needs and preferences.

9

Indoor/ Outdoor Services

1. Experience and Expertise: Inquire about the caterer's experience and expertise in catering both indoor and outdoor weddings, including examples of past events they have catered in various settings, their familiarity with the unique challenges and logistics of each environment, and any specialized equipment or resources they provide to ensure successful catering services regardless of the venue.

 

2. Flexible Menu and Setup Options: Discuss the caterer's flexibility in adapting their menu offerings and setup arrangements to accommodate both indoor and outdoor weddings, including options for al fresco dining, outdoor bar service, and weather-contingency plans, ensuring a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces and a consistent level of quality and service regardless of the venue.

 

3. Weather Preparedness: Clarify the caterer's policies and procedures for managing weather-related challenges at outdoor weddings, including contingency plans for inclement weather, equipment protection, and guest comfort, and discuss their communication and coordination practices with other vendors and the venue staff to ensure a coordinated and responsive approach to handling any weather-related issues that may arise.

10

Ref Seal Certification

1. Red Seal Certification: Inquire about the caterer's chefs and kitchen staff's qualifications, including whether they hold a Red Seal certification, which is a nationally recognized standard of excellence in culinary skills and knowledge, ensuring that the caterer employs highly skilled professionals with advanced training and expertise.

 

2. Importance of Red Seal: Discuss why having Red Seal-certified chefs and kitchen staff is important for ensuring the quality and consistency of the food served at your event, including their advanced culinary skills, knowledge of food safety and sanitation practices, and ability to create delicious and innovative dishes that meet your expectations and exceed industry standards.

 

3. Menu Development and Execution: Clarify how the caterer's Red Seal-certified chefs contribute to menu development and execution, including their ability to create diverse and creative dishes, accommodate special dietary requests, and ensure that all food is prepared and presented to the highest standards of quality, flavor, and presentation, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable dining experience for you and your guests.

11

Budget

1. Customization Options: Inquire about the caterer's ability to tailor their services to fit within your budget constraints, including options for adjusting menu selections, service styles, or staffing levels to ensure affordability without compromising quality.

 

2. Cost Breakdown: Request a detailed breakdown of all costs associated with the catering services, including food, beverages, staffing, rentals, and any additional fees or charges, allowing for transparency and informed decision-making.

 

3. Flexible Packages: Ask if the caterer offers customizable packages or flexible pricing options that can be adjusted to accommodate your budgetary needs, ensuring you can create a catering plan that aligns with your financial goals while still meeting your culinary preferences and event requirements.

12

Food Sanitation

1. Food Safety Protocols: Inquire about the caterer's food safety protocols and sanitation practices, including their procedures for handling, storing, and preparing food to prevent contamination and ensure food safety standards are met or exceeded.

 

2. Staff Training and Certification: Discuss the caterer's staff training and certification requirements, including whether they require their employees to have up-to-date food handler's certificates or other relevant certifications in food safety and sanitation, ensuring that all staff members are properly trained and qualified to handle food safely.

 

3. Compliance with Regulations: Clarify the caterer's compliance with local health department regulations and guidelines for food safety and sanitation, including any inspections, permits, or certifications required for operating a catering business, ensuring that they meet all legal requirements and adhere to industry best practices to protect the health and safety of their clients and guests.

 

13

Proper Staffing

1. Staffing Assessment: Inquire about the caterer's process for assessing staffing needs based on the size and complexity of the event, including their methods for estimating the appropriate number of staff members required to provide the best possible service to guests, and discuss their experience and expertise in staffing events of similar scale and scope.

 

2. Staff Training and Experience: Discuss the caterer's approach to staff training and supervision, including their recruitment criteria, training programs, and supervision protocols to ensure that all staff members are properly trained, knowledgeable, and equipped to deliver high-quality service that exceeds guests' expectations and reflects positively on the catering team.

 

3. Service Standards and Monitoring: Clarify how the caterer maintains service standards and monitors staff performance during the event, including their protocols for supervising staff members, addressing issues or concerns that may arise, and ensuring that all guests' needs are promptly attended to throughout the event, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable dining experience for everyone in attendance.

14

Walk Through

1. Final Walk-Through Availability: Inquire about the caterer's availability to schedule a final walk-through at the venue to discuss logistics and finalize event details, including their willingness to accommodate your schedule and preferences for the walk-through timing and duration, ensuring that you have the opportunity to review and confirm all arrangements before the wedding day.

 

2. Logistics Discussion: Clarify the purpose and scope of the final walk-through with the caterer, including the topics and logistics to be discussed, such as setup locations, service areas, equipment requirements, and any specific details or requests pertaining to the catering services, and discuss their approach to addressing any questions or concerns that may arise during the walk-through to ensure that all aspects of the event are thoroughly reviewed and finalized.

 

3. Coordination with Venue and Vendors: Discuss how the caterer coordinates the final walk-through with the venue staff and other vendors involved in the event, including their communication protocols, scheduling arrangements, and collaboration efforts to ensure that everyone is present and engaged in the discussion and that all logistical details are confirmed and coordinated effectively to ensure a seamless and successful event execution.

15

Rentals

1. Inquire about Inclusions: Ask the caterer what linens and tableware are included in their service package, ensuring clarity on whether they provide basic tablecloths, napkins, plates, utensils, and glassware or if these items need to be sourced separately.

 

2. Policy on Rentals: Clarify the caterer's policies regarding rentals, including any additional costs associated with upgrading to premium linens or tableware, and inquire about their recommendations for rental companies if their offerings do not meet your needs.

 

3. Return Policies: Discuss the caterer's policies for returning rented linens and tableware after the event, including who is responsible for coordinating the return and any potential fees or charges for damaged or missing items, ensuring a clear understanding of post-event logistics and responsibilities.

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