Why a catering contract is important
When you’re planning an event, no matter if it’s a small family wedding or a big industry conference, having all the details organized and in writing is important. This is why I always encourage clients to start planning as early as possible and why we always work from a catering contract for every event.
Keep in mind that your event may have deep emotions for you, but the technical details should be handled like any other business arrangement.
A catering contract benefits everyone involved from the client to the company to even the vendors. Even if everyone takes their own notes during a meeting, the contract is a mutually agreed-upon document that keeps the details available for all who are involved. This is especially important when you’re in a situation where you, for example, have a wedding planner who is managing some of the details for you and is a go-between the bride and caterer and other vendors. To be honest, you should be leery of working with any caterer (or another vendor) that doesn’t require
We use a pretty standard industry contract that details our specific requirements and the details from the client. Here are a few things to expect in nearly every catering contract:
Deposit: Most caterers will require a deposit to put the event on their calendar. We require a 20 percent deposit, for example. Many times this is not refundable and the contract should say so. If it is refundable, examples of when that is applicable should also be detailed.
Other payment details: Naturally the total amount and any installment plans should be detailed including who will be responsible for paying the amount and who is responsible for receiving the payment. Also, the forms of acceptable payment should be made known in the contract.
Menu: Details about the menu including special ingredients and how it should be served.
Allergies/Food Sensitivities: Does anyone have any allergies, food sensitivities or special diets? We know this won’t necessarily known right away so it’s important to establish a deadline for getting those details to the caterer.
Acceptable alternates: Even without supply chain issues and the fact that we use mostly locally sourced foods, sometimes ingredients can be hard to come by. Make sure that you indicate what substitutes are acceptable and how the caterer should handle when a substitute will be required.
Deadlines: Deadlines such as guest numbers, special requests, and payments should be detailed in the contact.
Specific Details of Delivery: This could also include staffing because delivery includes everything from how and when the food will be served. Or, even if it is appetizers to be simply dropped off at the venue.
Cancelation Policy: Things happen. It’s important to have details of when the event can be canceled and in what events it is acceptable. This also includes how much money will be returned beyond the deposit.
What will be provided: Some caterers provide only the food and serving utensils, others provide everything from the linens to the decorations. Be sure you all know who is providing what and who needs to coordinate with who.
Leftovers: How will leftovers including food and beverages be handled? That too needs to be in the contract.
Breach of contract: No one likes to talk about this, but what are the consequences if someone breaks the contract? These details are often left out of a contract and they shouldn’t be.
Are you ready to work on a great catered event with a conscientious and professional caterer? We love working with clients all over Northeast Oklahoma. Give us a call.