Event planners wear a lot of hats. We can be Jacks (or Jills) of all trades, with knowledge in design, floral arrangements, food pairings, wedding traditions, and so much more. But the most important thing we do is organize. We take a client’s vision and turn it into reality by bringing together the right location, florist, DJ, musicians, decor, caterers and more.
The thing about bringing everything together is that the event planner needs to have the ability to focus on each component as if it is the most important aspect of the wedding or event. When deciding on a caterer, for instance, there are so many important factors to consider, that the whole wedding might as well revolve around that choice!
As professional event planners, we know that each aspect of the wedding must be planned individually, but in a way that compliments each other. Here is a step-by-step plan of working with a client to choose a caterer, so that the food service works seamlessly with the theme, venue, and flow of the wedding.
Step 1: Get on the Same Page
You can’t craft the perfect wedding for your client if you don’t know what they want. Sit down with your clients and make a list of the most important things they want in a caterer. Here are a few of the important questions to ask:
To help clients make these decisions, it’s best to have a checklist with options that you know local caterers offer. This will be a great starting point, and can quickly narrow down your search.
Step 2: Provide Options
Take your client’s requirements and make a list of caterers who meet them. You might have personal experience with the caterer or have read raving reviews. Either way, be sure to outline exactly why you think each choice would meet your client’s needs. Depending on how perfect the fit, you’ll want to provide 3-5 options to begin with.
Step 3: Negotiate
If the client has other suggestions, then investigate. They might have good sources or a friend who has used a certain caterer in the past. If you think it’s a good fit, don’t be hesitant to go with something that wasn’t on your original list. It’s the client’s big day, after all, and the main goal is to satisfy them.
If, however, you don’t think their option will work out, there are a couple ways to proceed. First, draft a list of reasons that their choice doesn’t meet their specified needs. If the caterer in question has bad reviews, pull them up on a caterer review site and show them to the client. You may also want to check with other event planners in town to get their opinion on a catering company.
If you disagree with the client on their decision, it’s important to communicate effectively. Make sure to use “I” statements, drawing on your experience, rather than “you” statements, implying that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
If the clients are set on an option you disagree with, let them experience it for themselves. Set up a tasting with that catering company and your top option and let the client determine from experience which option they prefer.
Step 4: Final Decision
Ultimately, the final decision is up to your client. It is your job to present them with their best options, and guide them toward reaching the wedding of their dreams. If they choose a caterer you are against, do your best to make sure it works out better than your suspicions. Work closely with the caterer to ensure that expectations are communicated and met.
Today’s post is a guest post from Trisha Jefford. Trisha has worked a variety of jobs across the food service industry from waiting tables to being a personal chef. Trisha currently blogs and writes for EZ Cater, a site specializing in finding you the perfect local caterer.
photo credit Weddings by Lilly