Undertand exactly what you're paying for.
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Food is a key detail when it comes to planning any type of party, which is exactly why many brides and grooms make hiring a great wedding caterer a top priority. As it turns out, caterers can have a bigger impact on the overall feel of the wedding than you may initially think. Your caterer will not only keep guests full and happy, but they're usually the people tasked with running service for the evening, and they may even provide important things like chair rentals, table linens, and the bar! So, what should you expect to be included in your catering package?

Virginia Edelson from Bluebird Productions reminds us that some vendors will provide rentals or liquor in addition to food, but some won't. "Over the many years of planning, we've learned the best rule of thumb is never to assume and to always ask the question directly to the expert," she says. If you're hiring food trucks, for example, they likely won't include a lot of extras like chairs or alcohol in the package.

Edelson recommends asking the vendor directly what they will and won't provide when it comes to food, alcohol, service staff, kitchen rentals, linens, table setup and breakdown, and anything else you'll need taken care of on the big day. It's best to have a clear picture of what to expect right up front so that you're not surprised and scrambling to fill in the gaps later on, especially if you're comparing vendors.

BillieJo Kunkler, a wedding planner at Michelle Leo Events, weighed in on this topic, too. Based on her experience, you can expect the bulk of your expenses to be included in the catering package you select. "Beyond the cost of food and beverage, you can expect to see fees built into your quote like taxes, service fees, staffing gees, bartender fees, and built-in gratuities."

She reminds us that it's best to check if your catering package includes the cost of china, glassware, flatware, linens, and chargers. "Make a list of questions beforehand to ask your caterer during your consult so you can walk away with a firm understanding of what is and isn't included in your package choice," Kunkler says, "Then, make sure to thoroughly review the contract before signing it."

All that is to say that the quality of the food may not be the only aspect to consider when hiring a caterer for your big day. Be sure to inquire about the details of each vendor's offering and see what caterer gets you the most for your money without sacrificing quality.


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