SELECTING YOUR SPIRITS
If you’re looking for your guests to eat, drink, and be merry, you’re probably setting up some type of bar. And while some experts suggest making sure you have enough alcohol to give each person one drink per hour, keep in mind it’s not your job to send them home reeling. It’s totally acceptable to provide a limited amount of alcohol or even a cash bar if you’re working with a smaller budget. Plus, cousin Sam’s less likely to get sloppy if he’s the one paying.
Usually your caterer can suggest a red and a white wine to go best with the menu. From there you can zero in on any additional mixed drinks or liquor you want to provide, what types of non-alcoholic beverages you want to make available, and if you want to offer a Champagne toast.
BUZZED ON A BUDGET
If your caterer is providing all beverages, find out what the cost is per bottle and what the cost difference is between house and premium brands. If you’re able to provide your own drinks you may be able to save a little money by shopping around at local wine and grocery stores, wholesale alcohol distributors or bulk stores like Costco. Proseccos, Cavas, or domestic sparkling wines make for great cheaper alternatives to Champagne. Some states prohibit alcohol sales on certain days (like Sunday), so make sure to pick things up in advance if need be.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Whether or not your caterer is providing beverages, ask the following questions.
- Will their waitstaff serve the beverages throughout the reception?
- Is there an extra bartending or corkage fee?
- Can they provide all glassware for water, wine, beer, and a Champagne toast?
If the answer is yes to all of the above, you’re in good hands. If not, consider shopping around for standalone bartenders or perhaps place a bottle of wine on each table and buckets of beer, soda, and water at a side table.
Loop your planner into all of your decisions. “A planner will definitely make sure you have reliable and wonderful vendors that are not trying to rip you off,” says Lauren Sozman of Loli Events. “Planners also can come up with creative ideas to maximize your budget. Certainly your planner will tell you if it is worth it to spend an extra $5 for a table charger or if more impactful to spend it on a better band.”
SIGNING THE CATERING PAPERWORK
Once you’ve met with several caterers and determined what kind of catering style is best for you, you’re ready to sign a contract. Before you sign it, review it to make sure it includes the information below.
- Who: name and contact info (your’s and their’s)
- What: everything they’ll be providing (hors d’oeuvres, salads, entrees, and more)
- Where: the location of your events
- When: dates and times of service
- How much: cost per item, delivery, set-up, and clean-up fees
- Receipt: the deposit paid, the balance due and due dates
- Uh oh: cancellation policies and emergencies
After signing the catering contract, put your caterer, wedding planner, and venue manager in touch with one another to discuss logistics before your big day. File the contract in the same place as each of your additional vendor contracts so you can find it later.
BUYING THE WEDDING DRESS
As you’re lining things up and knocking them down this week, let’s make the dress one of them. Now that you’ve had eight weeks to collect inspiration and try several dresses on, go ahead and place your order.