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What To Do If Your Caterer is Not on Your Event Site’s Preferred Vendors List

A few days ago I wrote a post explaining what a preferred vendors list is and I promised to follow up with a post about what to do if your caterer is not on your event site’s preferred vendors list. As promised, this is that post.

Here’s the typical scenario:

You’ve found your caterer for your wedding or your party. Their menus sound delectable, they are available on your date and, best yet, they fall within your budget. Yes! You’ve also found the perfect venue. It has everything you need and a few things that you want. You’re on a roll! But wait. Just before you announce that you’ve crossed these significant items off of your to-do list the venue’s site manager tells you that your caterer is NOT on their preferred vendor list. What should you do?

If the vendors on the preferred vendors list are just suggestions and you can work with another vendor so long as the site approves the vendor, get started on the approval process. Don’t wait because there is always a chance that the site will not approve the caterer. If that happens, you need to know ASAP. Put the caterer and the event site in touch and cross your fingers that everything works out in your favor.

If the site manager says you MUST select a caterer from the preferred vendors list, well, that gets a bit more complicated. Luckily, sometimes a site will make an exception “just for you.” Here are some tips to help convince the site to allow you to use your caterer.

Specialty Caterer – If your caterer prepares a type of cuisine that none of the caterers on the preferred list are proficient in preparing, you have a strong argument that your caterer is integral to the success of your event. For instance, if you’re having a vegan, gluten free wedding and the preferred caterers only have a few vegan, gluten free options (as many caterers do), you could make the case that your selected caterer is the best route for the best possible meal at your event.

Caterer in on Other Preferred Lists – Event sites want to stay on equal footing with their competitors. So, if your caterer is on the preferred list of similar sites in your area, you can point out that you’re bringing the site a gift: a caterer that competitors have deemed worthy and the site manager has thus far overlooked. The site manager won’t want to lose business to other sites and will likely take a close look at your caterer.

Caterer is Experienced & Professional – Show that your caterer has catered similar events in your area with great success. Positive reviews are always helpful. This might be the weakest argument of the above tips because, chances are, all the preferred vendors are experienced and professional but it’s worth a try!

If the site manager won’t budge and won’t allow you to use your caterer, you have a tough decision to make. You have to decide which is more important to you: the event site or the caterer.

Has this happened to you? Share you experience in the comments below.


Photo credit: Will Brown

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