BY SARAH MAURER,
STONE COVE CATERING,
BRISTOL, MAINE
 
Food plays an integral part in most wedding celebrations, and catering will most likely represent a large part of your overall budget. Finding the right caterer for your wedding reception could be one of the most significant decisions you’ll face as you plan your wedding weekend. Stone Cove Catering’s Sarah Maurer offers some advice on how to go about selecting the perfect caterer for your special day.
 
AVAILABILITY
Are the caterers you are talking to available for your date? What is the reservation process? Caterers book up quickly! You need to understand how to reserve a date with your chosen caterer. Do they require a retainer to hold the date while you work out the details? Make sure to clarify the details before booking. Most caterers require a signed contract and retainer to reserve your date.
 
LOGISTICS
Do they understand the logistics of your venue? Each venue is different – barns, hotels, private homes, etc. Each one has a unique footprint and logistical challenges for caterers. Make sure that the caterers you are speaking to are familiar with the venue or understand the plan from the beginning.
 
PROFESSIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Do they have all the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance? Working with a licensed professional caterer is essential. Workers’ comp, liability, liquor liability insurance, etc. – these important professional items indicate that the caterer is operating following all state and local guidelines. Most venues require proof of these from the caterer, and you should too. If you are talking with a catering company that does not provide these things, keep looking.
 
SERVICES
What rentals and services will the caterer provide? Will they help you determine the necessary rentals that you need for your wedding? Will you need to hire someone else to help coordinate the details? Some venues include many things that you need, including tables, chairs, etc. Some venues are “blank slate” venues that require everything to be rented and brought in. Check and see if the caterer plans to assist you with these details. Most caterers include services like this or offer them available for an additional charge.
 
FLEXIBILITY
How flexible will they be with dietary restrictions, children’s meals, and other special requests? Most caterers offer a variety of menu options that will allow you to cover all of your bases. But – be upfront from the beginning about your needs.
 
SETUP & CLEANUP
Who will be responsible for setup and break-down? This is an important point to clarify. Most full-service caterers include set up and break down as part of their service. Other kinds of catering companies do not. Food trucks, drop-off/delivery caterers, and different types of specialty catering services may or may not include these services. If you are planning to hire the latter, make sure you hire a team to set up, serve and clean during the event and clean up afterward. Again, be upfront about what you need and make sure that you are hiring a company that does what you need it to do.
 
FEES
What financial charges should you anticipate? Ask ahead of time about how fees will be calculated. Most catering companies are clear about the fees they charge, but it is up to you to understand and anticipate these charges. These can include everything from staffing and state sales tax to gratuities and travel time.
 
PERSONALIZATION
Does the caterer that you are interested in offer flexible, customizable menus? Do you want to recreate a special recipe from your first date that will help tell your story as a couple? Do you have a unique idea for dessert or a late-night snack? Run these by potential caterers ahead of time to gauge their ability to personalize things for you.
 
STONE COVE CATERING
Founded in 2002 by Sarah Maurer and her husband Todd, Stone Cove Catering is one of Maine’s premier catering companies. It is a uniquely talented group of artists who view celebratory food as an exciting expression of individual style. Each event that they host is a unique occasion and always artfully tailored to each of its clients. The Stone Cove Catering family also includes the impeccably restored antique 1812 Farm in Bristol, Maine, a 4-season wedding and event venue, and King Eider’s Pub, known for its cozy atmosphere, frosty Maine brews in handcrafted mugs, and fresh oysters harvested just steps across the street in downtown Damariscotta.

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