Your wedding is your big special day. You want to make sure everything goes according to plan and your expectations are met. That’s why it’s important to ask your Toronto Wedding Caterer as many questions as possible. The questions below are some of the most important (but often forgotten) questions that could have a big impact on your wedding.
1. Will you be onsite the day of my wedding?
You want to make sure that the person that starts the process and put’s your order together will see your event through from start to finish. While it can’t always be avoided, it’s incredibly stressful to find out that your catering consultant won’t be there on the day of the event to tell the wait staff and chefs about the small important details you’ve asked for.
2. How accurate are your staffing quotes?
Some caterers quote minimum staffing hours, giving the client an unpleasant surprise when they receive their final invoice. Make sure your wedding caterer includes adequate time for setup, service and striking. If you’ve been quoted hours that perfectly match your schedule, don’t be surprised if actual hours worked increase slightly. Simple items such as speeches can run longer than expected, delaying service while wait staff and chefs are on the clock. A responsible wedding caterer will at the risk of appearing overpriced, quote additional time as a buffer incase the event falls behind schedule as so many weddings do. As most Toronto caterers bill for actual hours worked, if your wedding caterer quoted more time than was required, you’ll be entitled to a reimbursement should your wedding run as scheduled.
3. Rentals – how many glasses are included on the quote?
You don’t actually want to find the exact number of beverage ware, this is an exploratory question to see if you’ve been under quoted for rentals. If you are doing wine and beer service for 120 guests and the caterer has only booked 120 glasses, you’re either going to run out of beverage ware or find that your final rental charge is 3 times higher than it was quoted at. On average, one guest will use between 5 and 6 glasses at a catered wedding. Beverages per guest can get as high as 8 depending on the event format. Multiplying your guest count by 5 is a good estimate for gauging if your rentals are accurately quoted. If you’re a little short the wait staff will be able to wash a few at the event provided there are adequate facilities to do so.
4. Can I make changes to my order and guest count after signing the catering agreement?
As weddings are often booked a year in advance, good custom caterers will accept changes to the menu, guest count and even the event format up to a month before the event date. At Daniel et Daniel we ask that special meals and final guest count guarantee are confirmed at least seven days before the wedding. If you’re going to a banquet hall with an in-house caterer or a venue with an exclusive caterer, they are often a bit more rigid on allowing changes to their menu after the catering agreement has been signed. It is always best to carefully negotiate everything in these circumstances or you may find yourself frustrated with the process.
5. What are my options for alcohol service?
Depending on where you choose to host your wedding, you may have a lot of choice or none at all when it comes to the bar. While some venues handle the bar themselves or require the caterer to handle it, others leave it up to the host to decide. If you’ve chosen a venue that give you the choice or are having a backyard wedding, be sure to ask the caterer what your options are.
A licensed Caterer, meaning they do not require a Special Occasions Permit, will charge you a flat rate per guest rate for bar service. This is generally the most expensive option but you know exactly what you are paying prior to the event.
If you’ve chosen a wedding caterer that is operating under an SOP you will be billed on consumption. This means that your wedding caterer is estimating how much each guest is going to drink then billing you based on consumption following the event. This is option tends to be less expensive than working with a licensed caterer but the final bar bill is less predictable. If your guests drink less than anticipated your final bill will decrease, while if they drink more your final bill will increase. The big advantage of working with a caterer operating under an SOP is that have the convenience of having someone else look after the bar while keeping the bar price down.
If you’re working with a tight purse ask your caterer if you have the option of organizing your own bar. While this can be fairly straight forward if you keep service to wine, beer and Champagne, it gets significantly more complicated if you want to do a full host bar with Spirits and Specialty Cocktails that often require a lot of ingredients. If you choose to do it yourself and are trying to judge how many bottles of white wine, red wine, vodka, bourbon and cognac are needed to serve 120 people for example, your wedding caterer should be forth coming with a bar list. Just remember that if you choose to do the bar yourself, you’re going to need a big vehicle to transport everything in, and an experienced bartenders for the Specialty Cocktails.
6. Should I tip the staff? When and how should I tip and how much?
Tipping catering staff isn’t as obvious of a custom as tipping your server at a restaurant and while it’s not always expected, it’s always appreciated. Catering is demanding work and your chefs and waiters work hard to make your wedding a success.
Some people prefer tipping at the start of the event to motivate everyone, others near the end as a thank you for a job well done. Whatever your preference, consider handing the tip to each person working. If it’s a large wedding with a lot of staff, ask your supervisor for a list of people working the event so that you can make sure no one is missed. Depending on the number of people working, you can tip anywhere from $20 to $100 per person.
7. How do you handle last minute additions to the guest list?
A caterer’s worst nightmare is running out of food. If you have a few guest that are still tentative seven days before the event, be sure to let your caterer know. While caterers aren’t required to bring more food than what is needed to serve the guaranteed guest count, a responsible caterer will be prepared to handle some upward fluctuation.
8. What is the appropriate number of serving staff for a plated service?
The industry standard for plated hand service is 1 server for every 10-12 guests. This allows for timely service of each course which in turn allows for more dancing time! When you decrease the amount of servers, you increase the service time due to the amount of times the servers will need to walk back and forth to the kitchens. In the case of larger venues where the distance from the kitchen to the dining area is longer than usual, consider increasing the ratio to 1 for 6-8 guests.
9. Should my plated dinner be predetermined or choice?
Whether you are giving your guests the option to choose their dishes at the table or when they RSVP, all Toronto caterers should be giving you plenty of guidance on what to offer and the style that best suits your event format.
While both predetermined and choice are fine, our preference is to known in advance what each person will have. Knowing in advance has many advantages- the biggest is that it allows your caterer to better accommodate guests with special dietary needs. In other words, custom meals for individuals that are not able to choose from the list of options you’ve provided.
Whether your guest’s meals are predetermined by RSVP or selected at the table, it’s always a good idea to offer 3 options, a fish, red or white meat and a Vegan/Vegetarian option. It’s always better to give your guests the option of one protein or another than to serve two proteins on one plate i.e. Surf n Turf.
10. Do I need to offer a Late Night Station?
It’s always good to offer late night snacks to keep the party going. This is particularly true when people are celebrating with a drink in their hand. It doesn’t have to be an active station. You can have passed savoury items like sliders and mini grilled cheese sandwiches, which are great for soaking up booze, or a stationary table where people can come and casually graze. Depending on the venue policies and the liquor licence applied, offering late night snacks may be mandatory. Always check your venue contract and/or Special Occasions Permit requirements.
We hope you have found these questions to ask your Toronto Wedding Caterer helpful. Asking these important questions prior to the event will help make sure there are no last minute surprises to you, or your wallet. If you’re planning your wedding, give our Wedding caterers in Toronto a call and we will help create your dream wedding day.