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Choosing an event caterer

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Updated: 4/16/2007 2:29 pm
There's a wide variety in catering services, both in types of food offered and services supplied. Some companies supply meals only, while others include table set-up, servers and cleanup, decorating, flowers, and liquor. Your event location may also handle catering. In general, if they do catering, you may not be able to contract a caterer separately and may be required to use the facility's service. If the event or reception location you've chosen doesn't handle catering, or allows outside caterers, they'll probably have suggestions for caterers who are familiar with their facility. When starting to shop around, ask for referrals from friends and family. Check credentials through the Better Business Bureau and other sources. Interview and ask questions, and take good notes. Arrange to sample their food. Look at photographs of other events they've catered and, if possible, attend a function to see first-hand an example of their set-up, service, and presentation of food. Once you've picked a caterer, make sure you have a specific contract that lists all details, including menu, services provided, equipment to be used, financial information, number of people to be served, no-show and late-cancellation guest policy, dates, times, personnel, and equipment to be included. The contract should also have a guarantee, cancellation policy, and recourse if you're unhappy.
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