What Does a Caterer Do?
Not sure if you need a caterer or event planner for your next soiree? Generally, a caterer is responsible for the food, beverages, rentals and staffing of an event. A good caterer should be able to come up with menu ideas that excite you and suit the type of party you are planning. While most caterers do not own all of the dishes, flatware, glassware, etc. that will be used at an event, they will generally place the rental order for you.
* Their expertise will help you determine how many of each item you need per person.
What Does An Event Planner Do?
Event planners (like me!) take care of all aspects of your event from concept to completion. What does this mean? An event planner can order your invitations, flowers, entertainment, rentals, etc. Some companies are a hybrid of caterer and event planner, meaning that some caterers, who are not event planners, can handle your flowers as well as food. Some event planners do not design invitations (we do), but can refer you to someone who can. Other planners sub out the event design to a florist. Ask questions to see where their skills and experience lies.
* Our strength is designing the overall look of a party. We build or rent the props, design the centerpieces, and assemble them at our warehouse.
What Should An Event Planner Do For You?
Every event planner is different but we believe an event planner should oversee everything. I create a timeline for your event so that the rentals are delivered in time for the florist to set up, but not so early as to disrupt a client unnecessarily. Event planners should carry insurance and make sure all of their vendors do as well. Event planners are responsible for making sure the vendors get paid. Many planners will have you write a check to them for everything, then they pay the vendors (this is how we do it because it’s easier for the client).
If the planner doesn’t want the vendors to go through their company, they may ask you to pay the vendors directly. A client should be able to go to their planner for advice on any aspect of their event. Even if the planner is not going to handle a particular aspect of an event, they should be able to refer you to qualified vendors who can.
How Do Caterers and Planners Charge?
Caterers will usually give you a per person price for food and beverages and then an hourly rate for staff. Expect to be billed time and a half for overtime. Rentals are billed out according to the price and quantity of the items you order, plus delivery and damage surcharges. Typically, the caterer adds a 20% service charge onto the bill, plus applicable sales tax.
Planners generally negotiate a rate for the services they are coordinating (the florist, photographer, entertainment, etc.) and then may charge you two to three other fees.
– The first fee is a flat coordination fee for the planner’s time and expertise working on the project. The fee for coordinating an entire wedding from concept to completion would be very different from a “month of” or “week of” coordination fee.
– The second fee is a service charge. Typically, planners and caterers will charge 20% on the total of any services they coordinate or must handle for the event.
– The third fee is hourly time at the actual event. On site coordination time is not the planning time that goes into the party, rather the actual hours on site that the planner and an assistant(s) are working the event.
The Bottom Line
As with everything in life, get referrals from friends and coworkers about companies with whom they have worked successfully in the past. It doesn’t hurt to interview two to three companies before choosing one. Ask for references and hire the company with whom you feel most comfortable.