Every Single Question You Need to Ask Your Caterer

Updated 08/05/14

Food and drink will consume the largest portion of your wedding budget, so it's incredibly important to choose the right caterer for your celebration. Before you sign a contract, go ahead and pepper them with questions. Here is a comprehensive list of all the questions you should probably ask to ensure you're communicating exactly what you need.

Tip: We recommend printing out this list of questions and bringing it with you to caterer meetings!

The Wedding Date

• Is my wedding date available?

• How many weddings will you cater that day?

Background Information

• How many weddings do you cater per year?

• Have you done events at my wedding venue?

• Are you licensed, with health permits and liability insurance?

• Are you licensed to serve alcohol?

• Will I need any special permits for my event? If so, will you handle obtaining them?

• Will you provide a banquet manager to coordinate the meal service or an on-site coordinator who will run the entire event? If so, can we meet this person before the wedding?

Food & Presentation

• What is your signature fare?

• Do you specialize in certain cuisines?

• Given my budget, guest count, and wedding style, what food choices would you recommend?

• Where does the food come from? Can you source organic or sustainably farmed ingredients?

• What can you do for guests with allergies and dietary restrictions?

• Will the food be prepared on-site or be brought in already prepared?

• How will you handle last-minute requests?

Drinks:

• Do you provide alcoholic beverages and bartenders? Can you accommodate specialty cocktails?

• What brands of alcohol will be served?

• Can we provide the alcohol and you provide the bar labor?

• Do you charge a corkage fee if we provide our own wine or champagne?

• How do you charge for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages? Per consumption or per person? Which is more cost-effective?

• Is the champagne toast after the ceremony included in your meal packages or is it extra?

• Will your staff serve the wine with dinner?

• How long will alcohol be served?

• Is coffee and tea service included with the per-person meal charge? What brands of each do you offer and do they include decaf and herbal tea options?

Catering Packages and Payment:

• Do we have to work off a preset menu or can you create a custom menu for our event?

• If I have a special dish I'd like served, would you accommodate that?

• Do you offer event packages or is everything a la carte? What exactly do your packages include?

• Can you explain the price differences between sit-down meal vs. buffet vs. stations vs. cocktail-style reception vs. family-style?

• How much do you charge for children's meals?

• How much do you charge for vendor meals?

• Do you do wedding cakes? If so, is this included in the per-person meal price or is it extra?

• If we use an outside cake designer, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?

• If I decide not to serve cake, what are some other dessert options?

• Do you do menu tastings and is there an extra charge for this?

• Do you handle rental equipment such as tables, chairs, etc.?

• What types of linens, glassware, plates and flatware do you provide?

• Do you provide rental upgrades (i.e., chair covers, lounge furniture, Chiavari chairs, etc.)? What would be the additional fees?

• When will I receive a written contract?

• How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan?

• What is your refund/cancellation policy?

• How far in advance do I need to book you?

• What information do you need from me before the wedding day?

• When would I need to finalize the menu?

• When will you need a final guest count?

Logistics:

• What are your water, electrical, and equipment needs?

• How long will it take your team to set-up and break down the event?

• What is the ratio of servers to guests?

• What time will you and your staff arrive at the site?

• Will your team handle all table settings? Will they light candles and put out place cards and favors?

• What is your policy on cleanup?

• How will your staff dress?

• How do you handle tips for your staff?

• What do you do with leftovers?

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