Caterer Q & A, our top tips to sourcing the best outside caterer and Frequently asked questions.

Posted: 5th September 2016

You’ve got a special event coming up and you’ve decided to call in the caterers? Here’s our question and answer guide of frequently asked questions.

  • Will you provide all of the crockery and serving ware?
    Most caterers will have a supply of there own cups and saucers, plates, cutlery, bowls, side plates and water glasses. If the caterer doesn’t have there own the client may be asked to hire these in or offer as a bolt on package. Services sometimes may state you will need to send back the crockery washed so it’s worth reading these final details prior to signing any contracts. Wine glasses can also be hired from Waitrose
    Here at Lily’s we stock all of our own crockery, cutlery and water jugs as well as an array of vases and vintage crocks. Servers, platters, slates and tongs again the majority of caterers will already have their own but it’s worth confirming.
  • Will the caterer deliver the food order?
    It depends on your agreement with the individual caterer. Most companies offer free delivery to the local area and a small charge anywhere a little further. Again check those contracts!
  • Will I need to pay a deposit?
    Yes you will be asked to pay a deposit to secure the date and balance either in advance or not the day. Most caterers will accept cheque or bank transfer.
  • Will the caterer be able to accommodate my allergies?
    Yes. Menus and final numbers will be agreed in advance. Your caterer should ask you if there is any dietary or allergies to consider. Food may also be plated separately to avoid any cross contamination on the day.
  • How far in advance should I book my outside caterer?
    The sooner the better! Usually at least 3 months notice for smaller events and a year for weddings. However once the dates gone and deposits from events have been paid availability will get fewer the longer you wait.
  • Will I be able to taste the food beforehand?
    Most caterers will offer a nominal charge for a taster session of there food. Here at Lily’s we have our Tearooms open 7 days a week so we invite all clients to come and have a free pot of tea and a chat with us.
  • Will I be able to choose a bespoke menu if there is a special mix of food I’d like to have at the event?
    Yes. It is normal practice to offer 2-3 example menus at quotation stage but if you have a desire to have something unique your caterer should be able cost this for you however there may be a 3-5 day wait to get your individual quotation.
  • Will the caterer be able to provide waiting staff?
    Yes. The majority of caterers will have a team of experienced and uniformed waitresses and waiters to assist at events.
  • When should I give final numbers and timings to the caterer?
    Usually at least 3-5 weeks before the event you should either personally meet or contact by phone to finalise the arrangements.
  • How can I be sure I’ve booked a caterer that will show up on the day?
    When you are doing your research have a look at there website and social media profiles. LinkedIn may also show you personal recommendations. It’s ok to ask your caterer for testimonials and any pervious clients you could contact if necessary.

Finally relax. Take your time to make any decisions and accept any quotations or contracts. Be sure to read everything throughly before you commit to it and view any food hygiene or insurance documents.

See the full Q & A’s here and leave me a comment with your thoughts or any other questions you would like assistance with and we will consider using them for a future blog.

If you require any further information or advice then connect with head tea lady Sarah here: