Thought the only thing you and your caterer would need to discuss was what's on the menu at your wedding? Well, think again. Caterers cover so much more than just appetizers and entrées, and there are all sorts of little details you'll need to cover during your final meeting before the big day. To make sure you're prepared with answers when your caterer starts asking questions you may not have expected, we asked Tanya Gurrieri, owner and operator of SALTHOUSE Catering in Charleston, to fill us in on the surprising details she likes to review with her clients.
1. The Ceremony Location
It might not seem important, but letting your caterer know where you'll be getting hitched is actually crucial to their timing. "If the ceremony is at the same venue, we need to make sure all food service is set and staff is quiet by the time guests begin to arrive, up to 30 minutes before your ceremony begins," says Gurrieri. This way no one is rushing around finalizing things as your guests walk over for cocktail hour, and there aren't any kitchen noises in the background of your video. "This will impact our arrival time, staffing, and set up. We'll want to get there early enough so we're not running around when it's time for you to say 'I do.'"
2. Table Décor and Setting
It's not just your rental company that's worried about what you'll be putting on the table. "Couples often don't realize how much goes into food service and place settings, so we'll review the details together based on the style of food service (plated, buffet, food stations, heavy hors d'oeuvres, etc.) they've selected," Gurrieri explains. This includes items your caterer will need to make sure are rented, such as bread plates, chargers, wine glasses, and flatware, as well as how each place setting will look. "Will you have a pre-set water glass, or place cards and menus at each seat? If you're having wine served to the tables, there will also need to be wine glasses at each setting. And will you have a bread basket, pre-set bread on bread plates, or bread service? These items will all impact the look of the table, as well as how many servers we'll need to bring with us."
3. The Length of the Reception Party
"Folks think that once food service is over, the caterers are all finished, while others try to trim costs by cutting our service early. In reality, it's our job to keep the reception space clean throughout the event, picking up bar glassware, cake plates, etc. as guests dance the night away," Gurrieri reveals. "More importantly, we're there at the end of the night for all breakdown and clean up! It's our job to ensure the space is left in a better condition than we found it in, and that means staying until the guests are gone and clean up is complete." So make sure you let your caterer know when everyone is packing up, so they can give you an accurate estimate of how long they'll need to have staff on-hand.