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How to hire an awesome Caterer. How to find a wedding caterer. How to coordinate with your Wedding Caterer. Wedding Catering ideasLet’s face it, food makes a party, and your Caterer is a VIP Vendor. This is an awesomely big project that can actually make or break the wedding… Many of your guests will walk away from your wedding day remembering if the food was good, bad, late, beautiful, delicious, etc.
 
This particular Project Block is less about the ‘pretty’ and display of the food, although that is important too… but more so about logistics and communication with your services providers. Many issues and headaches can be avoided before and during your wedding day if you properly communicate and ask the right questions.
 
For all of our AWESOME Dream Team Caterers and more please visit our Vendors we LOVE page HERE

How to Coordinate with Your Caterer

For this Project, we’re identifying a few key pieces and Sub-Projects.
Once you’ve hired your caterer you can begin to make plans with them. If you have hired, or if you’re still interviewing, here is my list of questions I want you to ask them. These may solve a lot of your initial problems, confusions, and concerns as well as help you determine who to hire.
 
FREE Handout Download: Questions to Ask Your Caterer
 
Download the handout and prepare to make a phone call soon. If you haven’t hired a Caterer, this list of Questions comes straight out of our book: Green-Eyed Girl’s Book of Questions {on Amazon} which you might consider for the rest of your hiring needs.

The most important questions include:

  1. What your food service will look like?
  2. Who will serve it and when?
  3. Who will clean it up & bus tables?
  4. Where will the dishes come from?
  5. Where will garbage go?

Setup

 First things first, if your caterer hasn’t been out to the venue before you may want to schedule a site visit with them to plan:
  • Where the food will be prepared {in their catering tent, in the provided kitchen or all prepped before brought out} and then
  • Where it will be served {plated and served by a waiter or buffet line}
This will determine what your food display actually LOOKS like. A buffet line is a big, tangible table that is going to be highly visible to guests. It will need some décor. Same thing goes for a caterer’s tent. This is a HUGE canopy that could, in fact, end up blocking the view if you never discuss where they should put it or don’t know they were bringing it! Sorry folks, but I’ve heard of many a couple end up with a  fully logo-ed Caterer VAN in the background of all their ceremony pictures because nobody thought about them needing to park it to cook in it.
 
Assignment: On your sitemap of your venue. Draw out and indicate where PROJECT 12A {Catering Area} will be, which is Caterer setup: All their vehicles, prep stations, and service hub {where they’ll clean up and bus dishes} This can’t be too far from the actual buffet line though! So it can be tricky. Position them accordingly so they are not in the direct line of sight from your ceremony or in the middle of the reception happenings. Outdoor barns and family homes are the most difficult because there is often nothing to hide them behind.
 
First, ask your caterer if they need/want/already have a tent before you go renting. Remember communication is the best way to solve and prevent problems.

Service

Inquire as to how your caterer plans to deliver food to guests {Project 12B for Buffet}. Will they put it on the buffet table for you or do they just cook and drop off? Do they come
with a service staff that will be there to answer guests’ questions about allergies and ingredients? If they just drop off, you’ll want to schedule it closer to service time so that food is warm. This might require you building in a longer cocktail hour to buy time. Lots to consider! Should you hire some contract servers for the day?
 
Speaking of contract servers…. Who will clean it all up after guests eat? You’ll look around and dirty dishes will be scattered among the tables. Aren’t the servers going to pick all those up, wash them and crate them for you? Not unless you work that into your contract. Bussing Service can sometimes be an entirely different contract add-on than “cooking and serving food” for a caterer. Small catering companies might only bring TWO people who clean Up & Bus are both chefs. You’ll want to confirm with them who will bus tables… as you definitely don’t want to be doing it yourself the morning after the wedding. But, you may also have to hire separate people!

Dishes, Glasses & Flatware

 
Paper plates or China? Again, what will your Project 12 LOOK like? With disposable service items, you have a larger refuse situation to handle. With China and flatware, you have dishes to wash. Who does that? Sure your caterer has agreed to pick the dirty dishes up off the table, but what about washing them and re-crating them for the rental company? You will need to either Rent or Buy Project 12C {China/Cutlery}

Coordinator Experience Advice Ahead…

Here are my personal two cents from the past 8 years… Request that the dishes come from the CATERER, even if they have to sub-contract them… here’s why. I have worked with hundreds of different caterers who do things hundreds of different ways, some are prominent Oregon vendors, some are out of business… here is what I learned from some of them: If the caterer doesn’t BRING the dishes they won’t TOUCH them.
 
You have to pick them up from the rental company {or pay additional delivery} bus
them off tables {hire outside servers}, stack them in the back kitchen, wash them yourself after scrapping food off {or hire outside servers to do this} then the morning after, you must crate, count and properly organize all rented plates, forks, glasses, etc into the proper crate they came in and drive them yourself to return them. You are then charged for whatever is broken/not returned. Yes, in my early days I have been out there with a hose, Sunday morning, scraping, spraying and crating dishes for a couple who didn’t plan thoroughly. I’ve learned… and I will not be doing that again!
 
If the caterer BRINGS them, the caterer TAKES them!
Rent them from the caterer. Just do it. YES, if you go to a rental company and can get a fork for $0.40 cents instead of the caterer who wants $0.42… it’s NOT worth the savings! That $0.02 adds up sure… but do you want to be scrapping dirty dishes and hand crating them for return the morning after your wedding? Or have your parents doing it? My guess is no. And EVERY bride who has tried to save money by renting dishes on her own has told me she would have GLADLY paid the extra $150-$200 to NOT smell like leftover sauce all
day Sunday. Trust me, have the caterer bring them and take them. It’s worth it. Some caterers will use that overcharge to cover damages and not charge you, from others you may get a follow-up bill for that one broken wine glass… it’s STILL worth it.
 
*Now remember that ALL caterers are different. Communicate your needs and concerns and come to an agreeable contract for service, bussing and dish return.

Garbage

Now if you opt for disposables you are saving a bit of bussing hardship, however, you are increasing your refuse situation. Who will pull full bags out of cans and restock them? Will you provide recycle stations for cans and bottles? PLEASE DO. Caterers will likely not do this for you. Garbage cans truly have nothing to do with catering. You will need to assign
someone to do this. You will also want to determine where full bags will go.
 
Assignment: On your sitemap, determine where garbage cans will be and how many. Delegate who will notice full bags, pull them, tie them and place them in a designated area
{P12D for Dumpster/Disposal} indicated on your sitemap. GEG does not do this. Then, confirm with your Venue Manager what happens with garbage in your contract. I bet you’re responsible for hauling it away! Delegate a “Next Morning” person to haul it off.

 

Post Image Credit(s) ~Roman Studios



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Hi there! I’m Kandice, Owner of Green-Eyed Girl Productions and engineer of The Project Block System. Thank you so much for stopping in on this blog post! For more Wedding Inspirations, How-To Articles, Vendor Advice and DIY Projects, join our Inspired Coordination Newsletter by subscribing below. You’ll get informational posts just like this in your inbox on Fridays.

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One thought on “How to Coordinate with your Wedding Caterer | Project Block 12”

  1. Thank you for the great tips on communicating with my caterer! This is definitely a helpful list, and I’ll take these into good use when it comes to communicating with my caterer for my wedding!

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