Having a good relationship with other vendors establishes trust and can help make sure your day runs smoothly. From time to time I like gaining some insight from other vendors to pass on to my wedding couples. It doesn't hurt to toss in a referral here or there either! I had an opportunity to chat with Linda Dostie from Calla Catering about the # 1 question couples always ask, how couples can choose their caterer, vendor meals and more!
Linda Dostie is the Event Sales Manager for Calla Catering and Events.
Calla Catering and Events has been in business since 2017 and is located in Natick, MA.
Question 1: What is the number one questions Calla gets all the time?
LD: We are an off-premise, full-service caterer, so we aren't at one venue 24/7. We have a lot of spaces that we work at frequently, but we can be in a different place every day in the summer time! As this, guest count, and specific menu selections can impact the pricing total, it is hard to give a definite "this is how much it is going to cost."
When looking at a caterer, I always suggest not looking at the price, but what is the VALUE of that dollar? For example, we have been compared to a catering company before that ONLY provided food in their quote. The client shared with us the quote and said, "Why is this pricing so different? Your proposal is way higher!" Yes, our proposal was higher, but we included food, staffing, bar staffing, rentals, fees, permits, taxes, and suggested gratuities all up front in that initial proposal so that there were no surprises when they signed their contract! So, when comparing us to that other caterer, it really wasn't apples to apples a fair comparison when seeing all that we included in our pricing. ALWAYS look at exactly what each vendor is providing!
Question 2: When choosing a caterer, if a couple has narrowed down a few within their price range and really looking to select "the one" what are some questions that couples can think about to set them apart?LD: I am a big proponent of it is feels right, then it is right. We always ask leads that end up moving forward with another caterer what their deciding factor was so that we can stay competitive in the catering market. It varies, and most of the time the biggest factor is budget - this is important and we absolutely respect that! The majority of our clients who move forward with us do so because 1) they love our menu offerings, and 2) they felt comfortable working with us because of the services we offer, the attention to each client we provide, and the expertise we give throughout the planning process.
Our team has an extensive background in not only catering, but full service wedding planning, so we have that edge when it comes to understanding timing, vendor needs, etc. Many times, clients will say, "We were comparing you to this caterer, but we just felt more at ease with you!" or "We loved that you only take 1 event per day and could really give your attention to our wedding!"
Question 3: I photograph some of my couples (and sometimes wedding party) during their cocktail hour, or if there no cocktail, somewhere in between the reception. As a caterer, how important is a cocktail hour, should it last just for a hour and do you encourage caterers to bring out items to couples during that time?
LD: I think a cocktail hour is important - not just for food or beverage reasons! Your guests have likely been traveling to the ceremony and sitting during it, so it gives them the opportunity to get up, stretch their legs, and walk around a bit before sitting again for dinner. Especially in the last two years, it could also be the first time that some guests have seen each other in person in a while. While the day is absolutely about the couple, your families and friends are coming together and look forward to reconnecting! Give them the opportunity to do that before dinner & dancing!
We always make sure that the couple eats during cocktail hour. We have a dedicated server who brings whatever the hors d'oeuvres are on a platter that is specifically for the couple - even if they just have. a few bites, they need a little sustenance to get through until dinner! Plus, they are paying for the food, it would crush me if they didn't even get to enjoy every item!
Question 4: When it comes to making sure everyone is taken care of, as a caterer do you find you are often asking couples if they are interested in vendor meals or is it something you are regularly asked? Do you offer any discounts on vendor meals, if so, why and how do the couples usually respond?
LD: We don't even make it an option - vendor meals are always included in our initial proposal. This makes it right off the bat something they need to consider or budget for. We usually estimate that there will be at least 4 vendor meals needed (venue manager, photographers, dj, etc.), but we adjust based on the final number of on-site vendors. If any of our clients ask about vendor meals down the road, it is typically just confirming we have them covered. Every caterer is different, but we feed vendors exactly what the guests are eating so they get a hot, fresh, delicious meal. We typically don't get meal requests for them, such as selecting beef or fish type thing, but will get any allergies / dietary restrictions they may advise on so we can ensure they have a meal.
Question 5: Speaking of dietary restrictions and allergies, do you recommend vendors advise the couples or that the couples make sure to ask? I know caterers and vendors don't really have the chance to cross paths with another, so what's the best way to approach this?
I think it's best for the vendors to do their due diligence on this part - we always remind our clients to ask guests and vendors for any allergies / dietary restriction, however, just in case they only ask guests, it is always good for vendors during those final calls / emails / meetings to say, "This is how many people from our team will be on site the day of and need vendor meals, we have a nut allergy or a vegetarian, etc.." Our clients have been great about giving us this information, but I know that they have a lot on their plates so when it comes to something like this, a little help from the vendor can go a long way (and make for no meal issues day of that the client or planner doesn't need to be bothered with!).
It also never hurts to, as a vendor, reach out to us yourself! We have had plenty of photographers, DJs, bands, florists reach out to us with questions - sometimes lines get crossed when the client is the middleman, so if you have any concerns (about allergies or anything else!), we would rather hear from you and make sure we are all on the same page then show up and everyone has different information.
Question 6: Are there any last suggestions or tips you'd like to mention? This is such a wealth of information!
LD: Of course! Always happy to help! My only other tip for clients is to let the professionals help you and guide you! No matter the event, it is always a special day and we all have so much experience in our field - we want to work with you to make sure it is the best day possible, and hope that they'll trust us when we give suggestions! It never comes from a place of trying to discourage anyone, just knowing what the best flow will be.
Last Remark: I love this! And I can only imagine how thrilled couples are to work with you. My last question. What areas does Calla Catering mostly serve and do you travel?
LD: We do travel! We typically work within 1.5 hours of Boston but have traveled up to Maine and the Berkshires.
The absolute vibe Linda radiated during our interview made me wish I was getting married sometime soon! From the photos of their meals and the reviews left on their Facebook and Google, it's safe to say how focused they are on making sure their couples have the best experience. As vendors, that is our priority as you are trusting us with such an important and intimate moment in your life! I look forward to sharing more tips and advice that could be beneficial to you planning your wedding day. To find out more about Calla Catering, click here!
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