The reception is easily one of the biggest costs of the wedding, so it's very important that you have a clear, and well documented contract with your banquet sales representative and/or your caterer.
Here are some things you need to iron out before signing the check:
- Does your caterer have a license? Has it met local health department standards? Does it have liability insurance?
- Does the fee include just the food or additional services like tables, chairs, silverware? Do you need to pay extra for seat covers, place settings, equipment?
- Will the caterer provide waiters? How many people will each waiter serve? How many people will assist at the buffet table?
- Does the package include place cards, centerpieces, guest book?
- What is the caterer's experience in food styling? (Ask to see photos of prior settings.)
- What drinks are included? Will you need to pay corkage fees if you bring in your own sodas or liquor? (Compare the costs of an open bar, corkage fees, or set drinks.)
- What are the special fees not included in the cost of menu? This includes sales taxes, service fees, bar fees, security deposits, corkage, etc. Always ask for the total package cost and check against your wedding budget.
- When is the downpayment and final balance due? What is the cancellation and refund policy?
- What date will the caterer need a final headcount?
- Who will oversee the event on the actual wedding day?
- Can you have a special menu for kids or friends with dietary considerations (i.e., kosher, vegetarian, etc.)
Be organised, ask plenty of questions, and you're much more likely to find the right wedding caterer.