35 Best Questions for Wedding Caterers
Along with your wedding venue, catering is one of the primary vendors that you should carefully look after. You have to remember that your caterer does tasks beyond preparing your dinner menu. Some wedding caterers also supply tableware rentals, stock the bar, and probably bake your multi-layered cake.
In that sense, it is crucial to pick the wedding caterer that could help you with all those sorts of things with quality and finesse but, most importantly, within your budget! That is why to make sure you have the best caterer for your wedding day, here are some must-ask questions you should ask your potential caterers before booking.
1. Are you fully licensed?
It is critical to know that your specific wedding caterer has met your local health department’s standard in terms of cleanliness and health. Also, be sure to ask if they have a liquor license if they would be serving alcohol for your celebration.
2. Do you have liquor liability insurance? (if they are providing alcohol)
Anyone who serves liquors has to acquire this type of insurance, including your caterer. For instance, your guests drink or were drinking at your bar then, they leave the event and hurt themselves or someone else, you could be potentially held responsible. Knowing that your caterer has liquor liability insurance is extremely helpful because this negates your involvement and leaves them liable for anything unpleasant that may happen.
3. Will you be working at any other weddings or events on the same weekend or the same day?
Some caterers would sometimes stack two or more events or weddings onto the same day or weekend. It does not have to be the deal-breaker as long as they are a larger catering firm. But if it is a smaller team, make sure that they have enough staff to attend to your wedding needs.
4. Do you specialize in certain types of food such as organic, locally sourced, ethnic, or gluten-free?
This question is necessary to ask if you have a particular flavor or dish in mind that you wanted your guests to dine on after the ceremony. It also lets you know how much you can customize the menu as well as giving confidence that your chef knows how to prepare the food, meaning that it is just going to taste better.
5. Are you a full-service caterer? What does your company define as full service?
Full service in terms of caterers means, in addition to them preparing and cooking the food, they will also handle everything else associated with food. That includes your table setting, your bar cleanup, your bar service, and all that sorts of things. It is crucial to ask whether or not your caterer is a full service and once they are, then ask what does it means, so you know what is included in the package and what to expect from them.
6. Are you able to cater to our guests’ dietary restrictions/specifications? Are there additional fees?
It is essential to know if your caterer is willing to work with any special dietary restrictions but take note that it can be an additional cost. Thus, you must inform your vendors beforehand about your request because it requires planning and preparation on their behalf.
7. Are we able to customize our dinner selection for the kids' menu and vendor meals? Will it be an additional cost?
Sometimes, couples and caterers do not feed the vendors the same foods they give their guests simply because they are at a lower price range. The same goes for kids since they do not eat a full meal; you can serve them down with a chicken finger and french fries or pizza, just a typical American kiddie meal. Ask your vendor how they handle that and if they offer customized menu options for vendor and kiddie meals.
8. Will the caterer provide tables, chairs, plates, napkins, silverware, etc? Are they at an additional cost?
Avoid assuming that all catering companies do this; it depends on your caterer. If your caterer does not offer these services, then you have to go somewhere else to find them. But if they do, then it could save you a few dollars, unlike if you will look it for yourself or book a rental company. Also, do not be afraid to see them. It guarantees that you would like them and that they suit your wedding style. But fret not, because you do not have to use them if you think they would not complement your style.
9. Will you provide a waitstaff? How many waiters are included in our package, and how much would it be to add on additional waiters?
Typically, caterers will come with their personnel or staff that will help them on your big day either that is passing through orders, making sure that the dinners go out appropriately, and all that good stuff. But not all caterers offer this or include this in their base catering price, and if that is your type of catering company, then you need to ask to find out whether or not it is included in your package and how much it is going to be.
10. How do you handle delivery, setup, and breakdown on our wedding day, and will it be an additional cost?
Hand in hand with the wait staff question, this is great to ask your caterer because some catering companies have their staff to help in setting up your rentals, tables, chairs, linens, and all that sorts of things. Of course, not all caterers offer this, so it is critical to ask if they are and how much will it cost you.
11. Will you provide alcohol, or are we able to stock the bar ourselves? If we choose to provide our alcohol, will we be charged a fee?
It is super essential to know because some caterers do come with their liquor license, and that means they can supply liquor for you. Most caterers can serve you beers and spirits at a reduced rate but, doing it yourself and building your bar can save you a ton of money if you do it correctly. Check with your caterers to see what the options are, and even if they say that they do provide liquors themselves, ask them if you stock in your bar is an option.
12. How many bartenders are included in our package? Is there a fee to hire additional bartenders?
The number of your staff and bartenders to serve will significantly affect the flow and speediness of your event. Go ahead and ask your caterer so that you can also make informed decisions and how much you have to add up to have additional bartenders.
13. How do you handle food presentation and plating food? Can you share examples of how you plate and display food?
Seeing the way that your caterer is going to serve your food on the day-of can be a big deal. Ask your vendor a few photos of their previous events so you could have a glimpse of how it is going to look.
14. What is your server to guest ratio?
Knowing the server to guest ratio would determine the flow and the timeline of the way that your day moves.
15. Can we customize our menu? Do you offer a food tasting before we commit to our menu?
Food tastings are both super fun and helpful. It is a great way to get a sense of the type of caterer that you are considering to pick. It allows you a little bit more options and room to bring their personalities through in terms of what you want to eat and your favorite things.
16. Do you have my date open?
17. How many weddings do you do per year, and how long have you been in business?
18. Have you done events at my location?
19. Given my budget, guest count, and event style, what food choices would you recommend? Do you specialize in specific cuisines?
20. Do you offer event packages, or is everything à la carte? What exactly do your packages include?
21. Do you use all fresh produce, meat, fish, etc.? Can you source organic or sustainably farmed ingredients?
22. Do you offer wedding cakes? If so, is this included in the per-person meal price, or is it extra?
23. Can you show me photos of the cakes you have baked in the past?
24. If I decide not to serve the cake, can you provide a dessert display instead?
25. If we use an outside cake designer, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?
26. If there is leftover food from my event, can we have it wrapped up for guests to take home, or have it delivered to a local shelter?
27. How much time do you require for setting up and breaking down my event? Are there extra fees for this?
28. If my event runs longer than contracted, what are your overtime fees?
29. What is the last date by which I can give you a final guaranteed guest count?
30. What is your payment policy? Do you accept credit cards?
31. How much of a deposit is required to hold my date? When is the final payment due?
32. Are there any fees that are not in the proposal that we should be aware of?
33. Once we book with you, how quickly can we expect a contract? And if we make changes to menu choices or other items, will you update us with a revised estimate and contract?
34. What is your refund or cancellation policy?
35. Can you provide a list of recent references?