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Red Flags to Look Out for When Hiring a Catering Company

No, it's not okay for your caterer to take three weeks to reply to an email.

Contributing Writer
carey jared wedding tables outside
Photography by: Anna Shackleford

The catering company you hire for your wedding makes a huge impact on your overall pre-wedding stress level, and avoiding red flags from the get-go is crucial. To ensure you choose a professional who's just that, here are nine things to watch for when interviewing or working with a caterer.

 

Related: Questions Every Couple Should Ask Their Caterer

 

A Turn-Key Approach

No two couples are the same, which is why their wedding catering packages should all be at least a little different. Flexibility and customization should be at the heart of what your wedding catering company does. If the chef only offers one set menu, this might be a sign to consider another vendor.

 

Unwillingness to Work with Others

If your catering crew isn't willing to work one-on-one with your wedding planner, you've got a big red flag to wave. These two should be in cahoots at all times, and if they're not, it's a sign of weakness on one of their parts.

 

Poor Response Time

In most professional businesses, emails should be responded to within 24-48 hours. However, the event industry depends on catering companies to work late hours and weekends, sometimes for many days in a row. A little leeway with communication times may be necessary, but if you notice a pattern of delayed response, this could be a bad sign of things to come.

 

Unorganized Paperwork, Meetings, or Behavior

Event managers and catering companies often work on multiple events each week and it's in their best interest to be as organized as possible. If your catering manager has skipped meetings, breezed over emails, or lost documents you've given them, you can go ahead and raise the red flag.

 

Not Listening

If you're starting to get the feeling that your catering team only wants to do things their way, you could have a communication issue on your hands. It's not uncommon for couples to feel like they're not being heard by their vendors, but it's certainly cause for complaint.

 

Related: 8 Things Your Caterer Wished You Knew

 

Unwillingness to Coordinate a Tasting

It's not necessary to create their entire menu at the tasting, but it is absolutely your right to be able to try the menu you're considering serving your guests prior to your wedding.

 

Over-Promising

It's common to think that being a "yes man" is a signifier of good service, but that's not always the case. Sometimes a catering company that says yes to everything may not understand the difficulty of what you're requesting. Be wary if all of your wish list items are being met without question.

 

Lack of Transparency

It doesn't happen often, but there are occasionally catering managers who will promise a lot in order to get a sale, but then seem to have amnesia of what they've agreed to later in the planning process. In order to avoid this, it's important to have everything you've agreed on in writing prior to signing a contract. Taking the time to go over these details is worth it to avoid facing unexpected fees and hike rates higher than originally quoted.

 

Inconsistent Pricing

It's understandable for one or two menu items to change pricing due to seasonality, market restrictions, or cost increases, but it's entirely different for a large portion of your menu's pricing to change. If your venue has undergone an ownership change or menu pricing increase, they should honor their original quotes for your event.