Post # 1
So thanks to the hive’s help (and OODLES of research!), I think we have finally decided on a venue! Woohoo!! The venue has given us a preferred caterer’s list, and before we sign on the dotted line for the venue, I’d like to get an idea of what the caterers will generally cost for a party of our size (100ish). I just want to get a general idea for one of the largest costs we’re expecting for budgeting reasons. I wrote up a little email that I am going to send to the candidates… would you bees mind taking a look and letting me know if there is anything I should add/change? Just want to make sure I don’t miss any glaringly obvious questions in my haste to get this out. Thanks all!!!
We were referred to you by [venue], and are interested in your catering services for our upcoming wedding. We would like to set a date sometime during September or October 2013 (these dates are flexible), and are expecting approximately 100 guests, preferably for a plated dinner. Do you have packages and general pricing information you can provide me, and let me know of your site availability during the previously mentioned months?
Items that we would specifically like to know about are:
– How familiar are you with [venue’s] facilities and their policies?
– Do you provide coordination services the day of the event?
– Do you provide assistance for rentals and set-up/break-down of linens/plates/glasses/utensilts/etc.?
– Do you provide assistance for set-up/break-down of flowers/decor/etc.?
– Are we are permitted to provide our own alcohol?
– Do you allow for tastings, and is there any associated fee?
Please feel free to call or email with any questions (email is preferred). For calls, I am generally available after 4:00pm on weekdays, and all day Saturday and Sunday.
Looking forward to hearing from you, thank you!
Post # 3
- Wedding: August 2013 - The Liberty House
I think you should be more specific about what you mean by coordination services- do you want someone to actually act as a DOC- like be involved in ceremony, timing of events, etc. also? Or do you just want someone who is in charge of all the food and table settings and making sure the flowers go in the right place?
Post # 4
@MeiFrancis: Thanks!! I was actually going to be more specific, but then figured maybe I should just leave it open ended so they can tell me what they do/don’t provide? DOC services would be awesome, but I’m just as happy with someone working with me for just the setup…
Also, loving your date! We may be bumping up our date to August and my first choice is 8/31 since it is a semi-destination wedding (1/5 – 2 hr drive for most guests, so the extra weekend day gives them some extra travel time). Do you mind if I ask if there have been any “Labor Day Weekend” grumbles from your guests? That was my only concern about the date…
Post # 5
- Wedding: August 2013 - The Liberty House
@Maurasaurus: Actually, that was part of the reason we loved our date. A lot of our guests are coming from Canada (almost all of my FI’s side). Everyone was super excited that it was labor day because they would have the extra day to travel. Since we’re telling everyone so far in advance, no one has had any complaints because they didn’t make other plans yet, and it’s a weekend they expected to be busy anyway.
Post # 6
Other things to note (which you can definitely bring up later!)
– Can you provide a wedding cake
– Can you provide vegetarian / vegan / gluten-free / dairy-free (if you know some of your guests have food allergies)
– You might want to mention 3 v 4 courses plated dinner? Do you want a plated dessert or will wedding cake suffice
– How many guests per server (ideally no more than 20 guests per server)
– Is there a service fee or admin fee?
Post # 7
Honestly, I wouldn’t put this all in an email. I would request a phone meeting or an in-person meeting to ask all these questions.
Post # 8
@Beckster329: Agreed. I mean, obviously you want pricing, but as far as the coordination services go…honestly, it kind of seems like a weird question to me. I’ve never heard of a caterer who will setup or tear down your other decor – they’re just taking care of the food.
Post # 9
– Do you provide coordination services the day of the event? (what does this mean?)
– Do you provide assistance for rentals and set-up/break-down of linens/plates/glasses/utensilts/etc.? (I would say- do you help with…)
– Do you provide assistance for set-up/break-down of flowers/decor/etc.? (combine with previous question)
– Are we are permitted to provide our own alcohol? (to me this is a venue question)
– Do you allow for tastings, and is there any associated fee? (rephrease: please advise on your tasting policy)
-I would include meal preference (are you looking for 3 course, 6 course? steaks? variety of options? dessert buffet/ cake)
-ask about cake cutting fees- if you’re having cake
-ask about deposits/ refunds
-ask if they provide rentals (dishes, cuttlery etc- or if you have to rent them)
Post # 10
@CityBearBride: These are great and are definately going on my list! Gracias!
@Beckster329: I wish I could! In-person meetings are extremely tough for me given that it is a semi-destination wedding. Luckily I have been putting out feelers via phone/email for all my vendors so far with great results. Unfortunately my job is very strict about personal phone calls, so email is preferred. (The lawyer in me also prefers everyhing in writing! haha). I figure this way I can also “test” their communication skills, since I can’t be there in person often.
@Wonderstruck: I think it may be because alot of the venues in the area include only the grounds/building (alot of barns, vineyards, etc.), and nothing else. I’ve found in my research that most caterers take on the role of coordinator as far as rentals, setup, breakdown, etc. around here (probably out of necessity). I agree it would be weird for a more standard wedding. One less thing for me to worry about though!
Post # 11
I would also ask about applicable taxes (state, city and liquor), service fees, staffing fees, security, etc.
I would ask to see if you could see a sample banquet check with these fees included to give you an idea of cost. When I first started working weddings, I was amazed at the amount of money added on with taxes and additional charges.
Post # 12
@Maurasaurus: i talked to an event planner at a rustic venue, and she also said that the caterer often does the set up/break down of decorations, linens, etc. let me know what they say- i also have a rustic venue and have been wondering if i need to hire a DOC or if the caterer could do it.
i do think your email is pretty lengthy, but i understand wanting info and not wanting to forget anything so i don’t really see a problem with it!