Today we're discussing details you need to consider when planning a wedding catering service! With us is Destinee from Rothchild Catering! We'll review the essential wedding catering questions you should ask and other "must ask questions" when selecting a caterer for your wedding!
When considering your wedding catering cost, there are so many small details and answers needed before you can reach a total amount per guest. Destinee walks us through what's involved in serving guests at your wedding successfully. Delicious wedding catering food isn't easy to pull off, so we recommend hiring a pro like Rothchild Catering to feed your guests safely and with expert service! Check out our Clean-Up Fact Sheet, filled with valuable tips to ensure you get 100% of your venue deposit returned!
Lindsay: Hi Destinee, thanks for joining us today!
Destinee: Thank you for having me here! I'm so excited to be talking about catering today. You know, at Rothchild Catering, we're so passionate about food. We're happy to share our advice with any couples who need it!
Lindsay: Yeah, and I think that if we go over a few things, couples will be more educated before they do that initial phone call. They'll get more out of that initial phone call than they would if they call you right off the bat knowing nothing.
Destinee: Absolutely. Brides or couples, in general, are talking to so many wedding vendors during their planning process. If they can be prepared when they give us a call, they will get so much more out of that first phone call and hopefully save themselves some time.
Lindsay: As a wedding vendor, I know that usually, when I get contacted, one of the first questions they ask is, "what's the price"? I know there's just so much that goes into catering; you can't just initially go back with the quote without asking quite a few questions.
So first, I wanted to talk about the different types of catering. I know there's full service and drop-off catering, which can impact the price a lot. Can you talk a bit about what the different catering styles will do to your initial quote and what questions you should be ready to ask?
Destinee: Absolutely! So we do full-service catering, which means that we have a staff that we can send to your wedding reception. They will be responsible for the setup, busing tables, making sure the food's maintained, and cleaning up afterward. We do get requests for drop-off service, and that is something that we will provide.
But we like to educate our clients and make sure that they have designated people responsible for the other duties that usually come along with full-service catering. So whenever someone calls and asks about the style of food service, I typically like to ask them a few questions and gauge whether they do need a service staff or have food just dropped off and been fine.
Lindsay: Couples trying to save the money sometimes elect to only pay for drop-off catering, but they don't realize how much work they're setting themselves up for sometimes.
Destinee: Yes., many couples think that they'll get the food delivered, people eat it, and then that's the end of the situation. But nobody wants to work on their wedding day! Somebody must be responsible for scraping plates off, putting them away, and returning them to the kitchen or prep area.
Lindsay: Our company probably does a hundred weddings a year, and I always have people who say their guests are great and will bust their tables. They'll know to throw away their plate, and the reality is, they don't. Events, where guests must clean their tables and dishes are not typical at a wedding. Most guests expect a higher level of service when attending. Of all the weddings my team and I have completed, I can only recall only one event where every guest did remove their plates.
Destinee: Wow! That would be a sight to see for sure! Of course, some couples opt for disposable; that's a whole other ball game and makes things easier. However, when you're talking about ceramic plates, stainless cutlery, linen napkins, etc., those are items that are rented and must be returned. So there's a little bit more that goes into them. And most rental companies have policies about how those products need to come back to them. For example, plates must be scrapped of excess food before being returned. It's essential to return flatware in the proper condition to avoid additional charges.
Lindsay: So what are some common misconceptions just about catering and pricing in general?
Destinee: Many clients assume that catering is like a restaurant and that catering should cost the same as a restaurant meal or maybe even less because you're ordering food for a high quantity of people. But catering is so different from a restaurant! At a restaurant, they have set menus; they know what they're serving every day. They can look at the numbers and say, "We go through this amount of potatoes in a week," and they're able to order food quantities from their suppliers at a discounted price because they know they're going to sell it.
But for a caterer, our menus are different every day, every week, and for every client. We cannot order quite as much at one time because we might not need those same ingredients for two or three weeks. We're excluded from a bulk discount on our food products, unlike a restaurant. And we're so much more involved as far as logistics go!
We're traveling because we are mobile, so we're required to load all equipment, absorbing the cost of gas that's getting us to the venue, etc. There's a lot more that goes into wedding catering compared to a restaurant. Restaurants operate primarily on the same menu and in the exact location.
Lindsay: I do not envy your position because that sounds like one big word math problem to me to figure out a catering quote!
Destinee: Yeah, it is! It is!
Lindsay: Do you have a lot of people that are looking at different dietary restrictions when they're talking to you about a custom menu?
Destinee: We do! I've noticed that people are starting to be inclusive with their menus. If they have many gluten-free or vegan, vegetarian guests, they're considering that when planning their menu from the very beginning. We also have clients that might have one or two vegetarian guests only. They ask if we can do a specific plate for vegetarian guests, our answer is always yes! We would be happy to!
We want every guest to have delicious food that suits their needs! So we get that question a lot. We're always happy to help, and sometimes a menu will lend itself to being perfectly fine for that guest if they are looking for a vegetarian meal. Suppose one of their options on their menu is pasta with lime-roasted vegetables. That in itself can be a sign or an entree; as long as you have enough to make a complete meal out of it, then that's usually my recommendation.
Lindsay: So if a guest happens to be concerned about dietary restrictions when they're at a wedding, what should that guest do?
Destinee: They should certainly seek out someone on the catering staff and ask them to share the correct information. We try to prioritize that! While all of our menus are unique, we try to be consistent with creating our sauces and preparing our vegetables. It is the companies responsibility to educate servers on what is in that dish to tell the customer.
Often, we will put food signs if, but it's not always requested; some couples don't like the look of having the signage. So in that situation, you'd want to ask a staff member; otherwise, we'll put it on the sign, whether or not it's gluten-free or vegetarian.
Lindsay: As a wedding planner, I always make the guests talk directly to the catering staff because I don't want to misremember something and give them the wrong information. For example, assuring a guest, there are no peanuts in a dish when we're not 100% sure about every ingredient. This situation can be incredibly harmful!
That's why it's always important to ask the right person! So I feel like the catering staff is the expert on what's in the food. I have the guests talk to one of the lead staff members. So that way we know we're giving them all the correct information.
Destinee: We ask our clients to tell us in advance whether or not there is somebody with a food allergy or a restriction. Even if we're not creating a custom plate, even if there's enough on the menu for that guest to eat, we must be aware of it. That way, if someone asks, our staff knows what they're talking about. They can direct them to where there are gluten-free or dairy-free items. We want them aware that there is somebody in this room that needs to know the answer to this question and more importantly, we are prepared to answer it.
Lindsay: What do you see as some other trends that people are asking for? What other questions should couples have ready when speaking with a caterer?
Destinee: Food stations have been an up and down path for a while in catering. I still think that they are a trend because many people ask for dessert bars instead of just making the big wedding cake. Everybody loves that cause they get to pick what they want! Maybe they are a chocolate person, or perhaps they'd prefer to have the fruity dessert. So, many couples are opting for the smaller token cake for picture-cutting images, and then they might have some cookies in their warmer or cheesecake bites, something that appeals to a variety of tastes.
Lindsay: As a wedding planner, I'm pushing that just because not everybody likes cake. And if you have a dessert budget, why wouldn't you spread it out and do a few different types of treats! This way, everybody gets something they like, but also you spend money on stuff that's going to get eaten instead of just thrown away.
Destinee: Right! And you can make such a pretty display out of it when you have all of those different desserts. They come in separate containers, and they have different shapes and all this stuff; it makes such a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing display for your dessert table. And of course, everybody loves it when things are pretty so that that is a significant benefit as well.
Lindsay: So if I were to call you as a bride or groom and ask, "Are you available on my date?" What goes into answering that question?
Destinee: It's funny you asked that because that is usually the first question that a client will ask me, and it's difficult to answer it unless I have some information about the wedding. Knowing the guest count and the service style would be the two most important points of information for me to start a quote. The kind of service and the guest count usually dictate the number of resources we need or the number of servers, the number of equipment, shaping dishes, etc.
When I look at the calendar and other events on that day, I need to know how many resources you need to tell you if we have them. When clients come to me prepared with those two specific pieces of information, I'm much better able to answer their questions.
Lindsay: Again, that sounds like one big word math problem to me, haha! I don't envy that. I think that, when you're talking about the day-of logistics, there's so much that you guys need to know. People should be prepared to call you and have a whole long conversation instead of just shooting off a few questions and expect a quote back in 10 or 15 minutes.
Destinee: Absolutely, people are planning weddings so far in advance these days. I'm getting quotes right now for a year in advance plus. People seem to think that catering is one of the first things that they need to book. That's not necessarily the case because caterers can usually do more than one event per day. Other wedding vendors can't, such as a venue, sometimes a photographer, or a DJ.
So for catering, they can wait until they have a little bit more information figured out. That way, they can come to the caterer and get an accurate quote by knowing what's there. A lot goes into the day of logistics for catering that somebody's a year and a half in advance might not be able to answer at that point.
Lindsay: I think catering day-of logistics is just such a big topic that we should do another podcast covering all of it! There's so much that goes into it and so much that people don't think about; they can mess up the day if it's not planned correctly. So let's go over that in another podcast!
Destinee: That sounds like a great idea cause there's a lot. I'd love to come back too!
Lindsay: So for more expert wedding planning advice, you could always follow us at @thebridelink! If you want more information about Rothchild Catering Wedding Services or to have just a conversation about your wedding, you can reach out to them directly!
Follow us @thebridelink for more expert wedding planning advice!