One thing that many brides and grooms overlook when it comes to the catering contract is the small print called “guaranteed minimum”. This is the most important piece of information in the contract that you need to pay attention to. Once you’ve tried the food and cake, chosen your linens and made arrangements for the bar, don’t just sign on the dotted line without asking about the guaranteed minimum.
Working with your Venue or Caterer
Because of the timeline, nearly all venue contracts are signed and agreed to before the final guest count is in. For example, if you have invited 100 guests, that doesn’t mean that 100 people will be able to attend. However, when the catering manager asks how many people are attending, most brides give the number of invited.
This is where the ‘guaranteed minimum’ clause comes into effect. Here’s how it usually plays out…the bride signs on the dotted line that 100 people will need catering, and then two weeks before the wedding gets the final count of 85. Now the catering contract says that you will be paying for 100 guests, not 85.
You now have two options (one of them is not being re-funded the cost of catering for 15 people). You can ask for upgrades to your meal or venue, such as a desert table or an extra station of cocktails.
The other option, and in my opinion the better one, is to invite co-workers or extended family. You can word it in a way that doesn’t say “you’re a second choice”. Send a quick email that says “as you know we’re getting married in just two weeks!!! We’ve had some out of town guests cancel unexpectedly, so if you’re available, we’d love to have you join us at ________________”.
When you’ve spent all this time, energy, emotion and finances on a fabulous occasion, don’t get stung with the minimum clause from your caterer. Better to have a full house of co-workers and neighbours then pay thousands for services you don’t use.