The Knot Chicago Fall/Winter 2019

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Is your caterer legit? Whether you’re working with the team provided by your reception venue or are planning on bringing in an outside crew from your favorite barbecue joint, you’ll want to make sure your caterer is licensed for both food and liquor. This means they’ve met important local health department standards for food prep and service and carry liability insurance for both the food and the alcohol they’ll be serving, ensuring no responsibility falls on your shoulders (or your venue’s) if something goes wrong the day of.

Have they worked at your venue before? Hiring a caterer who has prepared food at your venue for previous events can make the day run more smoothly and efficiently. A repeat team will already be in the know about the available cook space on-site and what your venue supplies. They’ll have a clear idea of what additional gear may be needed (this is especially important if you’re celebrating at a nontraditional venue, like a barn or vineyard, where an entire kitchen may have to be brought in). If you’re really pulling for a catering team that hasn’t worked in the space before, see if they can arrange a walk-through of the venue and get a sense of the available equipment at least a month beforehand so they’re fully prepared for your event.

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What does their package include? There are a lot of different things to consider before signing on the dotted line. Catering packages can vary, so make sure you leave your initial meeting with a concrete idea of what your caterer includes in theirs. For instance, is your quoted price based on the specific foods or dishes you choose, or is it an all-inclusive rate (which typically includes an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert,

plus coffee service and, in some cases, wine for each guest)? Also, unless you’re going with an outside mixology team, work alcohol service into your contract and your catering plans. Talk through the tiers of alcohol coverage, what brands will be served and whether there’s a corkage fee if you provide your own wine or champagne. When it comes to must-have items like plates, napkins, silverware and more, ask if they’ll be bringing those and whether they or the venue are in charge of setup and breakdown. Lastly, inquire as to whether waitstaff is provided. Most caterers work with their own staff, but it’s good practice to check. >>

4 must-hire vendors Add these other experts to your wedding team for a flawlessly beautiful celebration.

Snapshots of your day are the longest-lasting legacy when it comes to your wedding, so it’s not the place to skimp or trust just any friend with a digital camera. Splurge on a quality, experienced photographer (plus an engagement session) to get the memories you deserve.

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Planner/coordinator The last thing you want to do on your wedding day is field questions or direct vendors. Enter: a planner. Whether you work with someone for a year ahead of your day or just the month before, it’s beyond amazing to have extra help so you can party stress free.

Florist

Blooms may seem easy to execute on your own, but when you factor in the time and energy spent sourcing and arranging, hiring a florist practically pays for itself. If you really want to DIY some florals, opt to do an event leading up to your day, like your shower.

Band or DJ

Music makes the party, so your band or DJ pick is a very important one. These entertainers understand the flow of music and how to keep guests on the dance floor all night long, in a way that your Spotify playlist just can’t. Trust us—and the pros—on this one.

HARWELL PHOTOGR APHY; C ATERING: BACCO RISTOR ANTE

Photographer

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