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Questions to Ask the Caterer


_____ What is the estimated cost per person for a seated dinner? Buffet? Cocktail reception? Open bar? What does the cost include?

_____ What is the staff-to-guest ratio? (For seated meals, the ratio is usually one waiter to 8-10 guests.)

_____ Have you worked at my prospective reception sites? Can you recommend other sites for weddings?

_____ Do you have a set menu? Can the menu be modified?

_____ Can the kitchen staff adhere to special dietary restrictions for some guests who may be diabetic, kosher, vegetarian?

_____ Do you have liability coverage  including liquor liability?

_____ Can you supply me with a list of references? (Contact two.)

_____ How much advance time is needed to confirm a reservation?

_____ Can I arrange to view the catering of another wedding reception to check food display, service style, flow, organization? Can we arrange to taste foods on the menu you suggest?

_____ Do you set the tables? Provide linens? Order floral arrangements? Coordinate the music?

_____ What additional charges might be incurred other than the food, beverages, and rental of requested extras?

_____ What is the policy for payment, tipping? (Some caterers request cash, others accept checks or credit cards. Some include gratuities in the base or overall price, others do not.)

_____ How much advance time will you need to set up?

_____ Can you send me a confirmation letter including the wedding date and time, names of service help, tipping policy, decorating time, color schemes, menu, cost per person?

_____ Can I see available linens? What is the additional rental cost?

_____ How much food is enough? (Ten to twelve hors doeuvres per person is adequate. With buffets, offer a choice of two entrees.)

_____ Will the hors doeuvres be butlered or on a buffet?

_____ How much are your overtime and cancellation costs?

_____ Can you give me a ceiling on anticipated menu price increases? (Caterers quote final prices 90 days prior to the wedding. Due to rising food costs, an increase might be 10%.)

_____ When will the wedding cake be delivered (if your caterer will provide you with one)? Is the cake cut by the banquet staff?

_____ Can we go over placement of the head table  on a raised platform or floor level, dais or round table?

_____ How many drinks does each bottle of liquor, champagne, provide? Is there an opening fee per bottle of champagne?

_____ Will you feed the photographers, the musicians?

_____ What is the guarantee requirement for number of guests?

_____ When must I provide a final guest count?

Get all estimates in writing; contracts should state what food and drink is to be served, how many servers will be needed, and a provision to inform the caterer of the final number of expected guests at least a week before the wedding.

Cultural Cakes and Cuisine

dumplings-328924_640Chinese foods served at weddings are chosen for their phonetic plays on words. For example, the Chinese word for apple is similar to the expression go safely, Fat choy sounds like the expression be prosperous, and Liem sun denotes the hope for many sons. This particular menu consists of apples, seaweed and lotus-seed tea.

In Italy, either a roasted baby pig (porchetta) or roasted baby lamb (bacchio), depending on region, may be served, accompanied by two pasta dishes and assorted fresh fruit. As a symbol of the essence of marriage, newlyweds hand out sugared almonds representing the bitter and the sweet in life.

A Jamaican wedding feast includes curried goat, meat patties, salted codfish cakes, red snapper in Caribbean creole sauce, and a salad of avocado and/or watercress. The traditional wedding cake is a dark fruitcake laced with rum. Slices of the cake are put into boxes and mailed to all friends and relatives who are unable to attend the wedding reception.

Korean weddings serve Kuk soo (noodles), which symbolize long life. To find out if someone is married, ask Kuk soo mo-gus-soy-oh? (Have you eaten noodles yet?)

In the Jewish tradition, a wedding meal is to be prepared Kosher style, which within the laws of the Torah, means no mixing of meat and dairy.

Bermudian traditions include the bride and groom walking under a moon gate after the ceremony for good luck, and the bride and groom have separate wedding cakes. The brides wedding cake is a tiered fruitcake covered with silver leaf and has a small cedar sapling on top that is replanted after the ceremony to symbolize the growth of the couples love. Gold leaf tops the grooms cake and represents prosperity.

In Norway, Brudlaupskling, a wedding cake made of bread, dates back to the days when white flour was rare on Norwegian farms, and foods containing it were greatly admired. The bread is topped with a mixture of cheese, cream, and syrup, then folded over and cut into small squares.

Long ago in France, it was the custom for villagers to throw buns into a pile in preparation for the wedding feast. A clever baker decided to take some bun-like pastries stuffed with cream and fastened them as a pyramid, like the mound of buns, creating a tall cone of caramel-coated cream puffs called croque-en-bouche (crisp in the mouth). The cone may be topped with caged doves, which are released to symbolize the newlyweds departure from their families.

In medieval England, guests brought small cakes and piled them in the center of a table, challenging the bride and groom to kiss over them.

The grooms cake is a European tradition that is regaining popularity. Traditionally, the grooms cake is a dark, rich fruitcake, but is more modernly chocolate or spice. It is more creatively shaped than the typical tiered brides cake, often decorated to represent the grooms favorite hobby, sport or fraternity affiliation. It may be served at the rehearsal dinner or at the reception after the wedding cake has officially been cut.

In the Ukraine, couples share korovai rather than a cake. Korovai is a sacred wedding bread decorated with symbolic motifs that represent eternity and the joining together of two families.

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