HOW TO: Work with the Wedding Caterer

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Here's how to ensure that your client's meeting with the wedding caterer goes smoothly.

As a wedding planner, once you have your client’s vision and budget for their wedding reception menu in mind the next step is to find a company to actually prepare/provide the food.

For weddings held at an on-premise venue — for example, a hotel, private club, restaurant, or wedding banquet facility — then the food and beverage is handled in-house.

For weddings held at an off-premise site — tent, loft or a a private mansion, perhaps — then you’ll need to help your clients find a caterer.

Narrow the list down to three wedding caterers. Ideally this will not be your first interaction with each caterer and you have already met with and have information for each company in your vendor file. If not, take the time to research each potential vendor. Introduce yourself and ask if they can send you sample menus and brochures.

Provide the date, time of day, and site of your client’s wedding to each caterer; and ask if they are available and whether or not they are familiar with the wedding venue (if they are that’s a definite plus!).

Be up front about your client’s budget and make sure it’s realistic for each caterer that you speak with.

MEETING WITH WEDDING CATERERS

Schedule an initial face-to-face meeting with each wedding caterer and your clients. During this initial meeting, the caterer should:

  • Provide information on their services and packages.
  • Discuss wedding logistics such as number of guests, venue, etc.
  • Go over any dietary restrictions (your initial screening should make sure that selected caterers are able to handle any such requests.)
  • Do his/her best to get to know your clients and make a connection
  • Be excited, ask lots of questions about your client’s wedding and want the job!

THE WEDDING CATERER PROPOSAL

Following this initial meeting, the caterer should create a personalized but professional proposal for your clients. A winning proposal lets your clients know that the caterer was paying attention to the couple’s needs and should:

* Be well written and describe the wedding reception menu in detail
* Be personalized and include your clients’ name, venue, wedding date and time
* Include any notes regarding special dietary restrictions mentioned during the initial meeting
* Include a line-by-line listing of all the associated costs (labor, equipment, etc.)
* A schedule of payment
* A cover letter telling your clients why this particular caterer is the best company for the job.

WEDDING CATERER TASTINGS

Just as you might expect, a tasting gives your clients an opportunity to sample the food they are considering serving on their wedding reception menu.  Some wedding caterers will only agree to a tasting after a contract is signed.

Others (especially smaller and fledgling companies) may charge for tastings that happen before receiving a deposit (which is totally acceptable–just try and negotiate applying the cost of the tasting to the caterer’s fee if your client selects them).

But many wedding caterers realize the importance of complimentary tastings as an important marketing tool and can’t wait to ‘wow’ your clients and show off their catering skills.

HAPPY PLANNING!

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