What to Ask When Hiring a Caterer

The Art of Weddings organizers posted this great blog about questions to ask your caterer! We thought it would be fun and informational for us to go ahead and answer these for you now!

“More than likely, your catering bill will be the largest expense on your wedding day. Given the investment, and the importance of great food, drink and service, we want to help you ensure you find the perfect caterer for your wedding.”

“HERE ARE A FEW QUESTIONS TO ASK TO HELP YOU DECIDE WHICH CATERER WILL BE THE PERFECT FIT!”

1. Are you a licensed and insured caterer and will you be able to provide proof of that to my venue?

Yes! We are fully licensed by the State of Oregon and our county health department and insured appropriately for our business.

2. How would you describe your food style?

Fresh, Northwest! We create a lot of our menu items by first asking what is in season during the event we are building a menu for. This allows us to use fresh local produce and gives us inspiration for creative northwest grown dishes. Still, our Chef loves to dabble in southern and spanish inspired dishes.

3. How many weddings have you catered? How long have you been in business?

After 20 years working for other restaurants with catering services, Chef Joe and his partner, Ashley, started The Hive Catering in 2016. You can read more about our origins on the Art of Weddings blog!

4. Would you say your strength is your food or your service?

What a great, and difficult, question! Our service team is made up of an Account Manager with serious dedication and years of event planning experience, professional serving staff, and bartenders. Still, praise rings loud for Chef’s amazing meals.

5. What is average size of the events you cater?

While the size of events we serve ranges from 25-500, we mostly serve events between 100-200 guests.

6. How many weddings/events do you typically do in one day?

O-N-E! We recognize that our rather young business has limited resources and our first priority is to make sure we provide the quality and service we promise. So, we only accept one large event per week, or up to three small events.

7. What is your policy on providing a tasting before we book?

We host tastings dependent on schedule availability. Tasting fees are $25/person which are applied to the final invoice should you choose to book us!

8. Have you catered at our venue before? Any challenges/hurdles we should be aware of? How many hours before our ceremony starts do you like to arrive?

We’re happy to provide the answer to this one on a case-by-case basis. We do walkthroughs with every client to ensure that we have a clear understanding of their expectations and a clear plan for navigating the varying challenges of individual spaces.

9. Are there additional charges for table and chair set up?

Yes, in the sense that our team will need to be scheduled further in advance of your event start time to make sure everything is perfectly in place.

10. Are there additional charges for removing trash/recycling?

We pack out any trash and recycling resulting from services we provide. If you need additional trash or recycling removed, there may be an additional fee.

11. Are there additional charges for setting the table?

Our team set tables for almost every event. When we provide a proposal, we assume that this is a need and calculate time for our team to execute.

12. Do you provide staff for busing the tables?

Yes! We also bus for every event. We’ll collect trash and dirty dishes and prepare them for pickup by the rental company.

13. How many service staff do you think I need for my guest count at my venue?

The number of hours and serving staff will vary depending on your venue, serving style (plated, family style, or buffet), and your timeline. Our general ratios for basic service are as follows, unless there are additional service needs or challenges: Plated - 1:16 | Family Style 1:32 | Buffet 1:50.

14. Do you have licensed bartenders to serve alcohol at our wedding? Are we able to provide alcohol for you to serve? If so, is there a corkage fee?

Yes, and yes! We can provide alcohol or you can. We don’t charge a corkage fee - rather we’ll provide a bartender at an hourly rate. We do have a fee for bar kits (bar tools, ice, taps, etc.) and an administrative fee ($200-$300) which covers licensing and insurance and varies depending on the details of your event. We take OLCC requirements and alcohol safety seriously.

15. Should I have a second bar with my guest count? Any additional charges for that?

We recommend a separate bar for every 100-150 guests. You’ll need a physical bar, bartender, and bar kid kit for each bar.

16. Will your staff cut, plate, and serve our wedding cake? Any additional fees for that?

We will! We do have a cake cutting fee of $1/slice. However, if your cake is created by one of our favorite bakeries, we’ll waive the fee!

17. If there is left over food, are we able to take that home?

Our team will package and leave leftovers as long as there is an available refrigerator on-site. We don’t want anyone getting sick.

18. What are the most popular items on your menu?

Most couples will include chicken on their menu to ensure there is an option nearly guaranteed to accommodate picky eaters - so our Herb Crusted Chicken and Hazelnut Pesto Chicken are popular choices.

19. Will your staff light the candles on the tables?

Definitely - please let us know that you will need candles lit so we can schedule our timeline to include it.

20. What are your service fees?

Our service fee is 20% on food and beverage.

21. Are there any taxes that will be on my bill?

Nope! Thank you, Oregon.

22. Any tips for lowering my catering costs?

For sure! We can talk about specific ideas for your special day but, aside from choosing lower-cost menu items, there are ways to structure timelines, site layouts, and service needs to help reduce catering costs.