Weddings sound scary. It’s the most important day of the bride and groom’s life, and most of their friends and family are present. There’s a lot of pressure to have the most perfect wedding, and everyone is high strung. You have to be careful and responsible, but after a few good weddings you might start to get a reputation and cater to even more weddings.
Here’s how to get a great review and be the perfect caterer to a wedding!
1. Meet the bride and groom, and evaluate them
Ideally, they should meet up with you about 6 months to a year in advance. In the wedding business, everything is done up to a year in advance. The venue is reserved, the cake and the clothes are ordered… All sorts of tasks are done a year in advance.
So, your number one priority is to either meet the bride and the groom or the person they trust with making their wedding the best day in their lives. Communication is the most important skill you can have here, and you need to make your game plan with them.
Honesty is also important. Maybe you can’t give them what they want. It’s better to let them go instead of ruining their wedding or believing that you can fly by the seat of your pants. Nobody will forget that and you’ll quickly get a very bad blemish on your reputation. Might even cost you your business.
Also, if you don’t trust the bride and the groom, ditch them. These high-risk, high-reward events require that all the parties are serious and committed.
2. See who pays for the event, and get in touch
If it’s the father of the bride, or someone other than the bride and groom, involve him in the discussion. It’s important to stay within budget. Invite everyone involved for a small sampling of what you’ll make, so that they have a taste of what you have in mind.
You might have to do a couple of these tastings until you learn what they like and make a good menu together.
3. Stay updated
A year is a long time, and you should keep in touch. About three months from the wedding, contact the bride and the groom (or the best man or the maid of honor, whoever’s in charge) and see if they’re satisfied with everything. Don’t get angry if they switch things up, that happens. Be with them until the very day of the wedding.
4. Never go Ghost, always sign the contract
It’s a real shame, but people go ghost. They’ll suddenly cut contact and leave you high and dry. It’s relatively rare, but it still happens. This is why you should never go ghost on someone. Both in the general sense, and especially in the business sense. If you can’t meet the bride and groom’s demands it’s best that you both go on your own merry way.
Some food trucks lie about what they bring to the table, and when the big day comes along… They bring the worst thing they could’ve brought. An empty table. This is a heavy hit to a food truck’s reputation, and honestly, if they did that they should go out of business. Always have a contingency plan, maybe even hire out a fellow food trucker to get this done. Your name and your honor is on the line.
Then again, sometimes the bride and the groom go ghost. And you’ve spent all this time and money preparing for the big day that never was. Whatever their reason (and there’s a very short list of valid ones), it was a bad move on their part. You should get compensated regardless.
Be absolutely certain that you drafted up a good contract, and make them sign it. If you’re serious about their big day, they’ll be on board. No going back, and hopefully you’re both committed to having the best wedding you can have.
5. Time to learn that quantity is a quality of its own
You’ll need to serve 100+ guests at once (or in a limited timeframe), and you should have a well-thought out game plan. Hire extra hands and be ready for an avalanche of hungry guests. Be serious and be well prepared. Being over prepared is fine, as long as you stay within the budget.
6. Buffet vs. Plates
You’ll have to decide and discuss with the bride and the groom if you’ll have a buffet option or you’ll serve plates. The buffet is the cheaper option (for the bride and the groom) and is easier to make and serve. Some people may consider them classless or too informal, but let me tell you that the buffet tradition goes all the way back to the 16 century ball rooms! There’s nothing bad about having a well-thought out buffet at the wedding.
The plates are a serious moneymaker (for you). You can have appetizers, the main course and the desserts all planned out and prices at a serious markup. The service and the look of the food will bring you a hefty bonus. A salad doesn’t look that special until you add a handmade cucumber flower and parsley and charge 3 times the amount you’d normally charge on the street.
7. How to charge
Try to go with a budget per person. You’ll get a number somewhere around $20-60, and you can go from there. This should be one of the first questions you should ask the couple (or the one paying for the wedding). If the couple can’t afford your services, it’s best that you walk away and redirect them to a fellow food trucker.
Remember, it’s very important that you do a great job and get paid well. Don’t accept lower prices because you’ll be tempted to reduce the quality of your service. And you don’t want that reputation following you around for the next wedding. Just stick to your guns and be patient.
8. Formal, semi-formal, casual
This is an important question that many food trucks ignore, and then get into an embarrassing situation. You don’t want to have your workers in casual clothes serving food at a formal black tie event (that’s where everyone dresses like James Bond). If the couple demands a formal atmosphere, get them to cover the tux rentals for your crew (or more strategically, add it to the bill after the wedding).
Most weddings are okay with semi-formal wear, and your service crew won’t be out of place in their polo shirts and trousers. Regardless, be sure to ask and plan for it.
9. Special orders
It’s really important to know if some of your guests have special dietary requirements, like a gluten allergy, vegetarian or vegan diets, or an allergy to nuts or shellfish. For some (especially for people that have allergies), it’s a literal life or death situation and you and your staff should proceed very carefully.
Traces of nuts or shellfish can kill allergic guests, and their meals should be made in a sterile, safe environment. Due to this, these meals might cost more than the baseline meal, and you should convey this info to your customer.
10. Kids’ menu
Ask if this is going to be a kid friendly-wedding and if you need a special kids’ menu. These are often smaller and easier to make, so offer a discount.
11. Rent special cooking and catering equipment
If you’re new, odds are that you don’t have every piece of equipment you’ll need for the event. Plan it out and rent pieces of gear that you’re lacking. Don’t just go out and buy them, renting them out for a while is more cost effective in the beginning. This will prevent you from buying something you’ll just use once.
After a few weddings, you’ll know what you need to get.
12. Your staff should be the best of the best
It’s a wide known fact that weddings are serious business. You can’t bring in your untrained friends or family members to such a high-value event; there’s too much to lose here.
Catering for wedding is tough and requires a lot of planning, but it’s going to be one of your more secure revenue sources.