There are so many things to consider when signing on that dotted line. But if you've never thrown an event before how are you supposed to know what to looks for or even understand what this contract is actually saying. To help put things into perspective I'm answering my top 6 most asked questions.
MINIMUM GUARANTEED DINNER GUESTS
When you request a catering quote likely you'll provide a potential number of expected dinner, let's say 130 dinner guests. In your contract you may see a statement like " Minimum guaranteed dinner guests of 120." This means that your responsible in paying for that number of guests regardless of what your ultimate number is. Keep in mind that also means 120 adults and does not include children!!! Ultimately if your end up having 115 guests you're still paying for 130ppl. What I like to do is calculate what the cost difference is between 120 and 130 guests and ask if you can use that dollar amount in upgrading your meal or adding a course- that way you're not "loosing" money!
RESERVES THE RIGHT TO DETERMINE WHAT (IF ANY) FOOD IS SUITABLE FOR TAKE HOME
This is a health issue. Once food is out in the open and in an unregulated temperature food can spoil quicker then you expect. Most venues and caterers wont allow you to bring ANY food home. But if they add a clause like this- you're very lucky!
GraTUITY POST EVENT
This means there is not gratuity included in your current bill. If you don't consider this while your comparing notes on various quotes, in the end it can end up in thousands of extra dollars you didn't factor in. Typically %15 grat is standard- for restaurants only. For caterers you're looking at %18 and for luxury hotels it can be upwards of %20+.
If you're trying to do your own math here is the formula you should use. Subtotal all the food and beverage. Now add your grat onto that. Subtotal again and then add your taxes. That's right! You read that right, your grat is taxed. Another sneaky way if your numbers don't add up when you get a real revised quote from a caterer.
PLANNING & COORDINATION FEE
But you might already have a wedding planner- so why should you pay for a coordination fee to a caterer? Well, it's because there's so much paperwork and time required to ensure your food & beverage team are prepared and ready to perform for your wedding. This includes the following:
- In person appointments
- Multiple emails throughout a 1- 2 year period
- Meetings with culinary team to map out custom menues
- Research for specialty requests
- Food & Beverage timeline prepration for behind the scenes
- Organizing staffing
- Inventory & renatls lists
- Food requisitions
- Ordering food & beverage
- Working with your planner on the elements of the day
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because a good catering company does so much more!
FOOD & BEVERAGE COST INCREASES
We never really know what the economic climate will be like in the next year or two. For example there could be a Beef shortage and so the price in 2019 vs. 2018 has risen. Typically you can ask your caterer to lock in a max increase of %10. On a side note- this happened in the floral world a few years ago when there was a volcano erupt in Asia. This stopped air traffic and importers were unable to bring in orchid varieties for 2 weeks. So crazy right! This is also a huge reason why you should hire a planner. So we can impart this type of information onto our clients. They type of information that just isn't out there to find for yourself! A great planner will make it their business to know the inner workings of all these things you might never in your life think to consider!
And there you have it. Some of the most sneak hidden costs that can seriously break your budget!