Wedding Venues and Caterers…Pt. 2

Your wedding caterer will probably take up the largest part of your budget. Delicious food and drinks are a significant element of the wedding! Make sure that you love your caterer’s food options, price, and personality before making a final decision. Ask these questions before hiring so you know exactly what you’re getting!

The Basics

  1. Will you be catering any other weddings on our date?
  2. How many weddings do you do per month? When did your company begin?
  3. Can you provide a list of venues at which you have worked before?
  4. Do you have a liquor license? Are you licensed by the state in which we will have our reception?
  5. Does your catering service require any permits? If yes, will you obtain them?
  6. Does your company work only with a banquet manager to coordinate the servers and food or an on-site coordinator who will help plan the entire wedding? Will one person be in charge of planning with us?

Food & Presentation

  1. I want a food service that is delicious but also unique. With this budget, guest count, and event style, do you have any suggestions? Does your company specialize in certain cuisines? Tip: ask for sample menus!
  2. Does your fee include a pre-set menu or can we create a custom one? Do you make dishes that you haven’t made before?
  3. Can you provide us with a complete breakdown of your packages?
  4. Are the ingredients that you use fresh or processed? Do you use organic or sustainably farmed products?
  5. We want to be able to accommodate all of our guests. Can you provide us with food that is kosher, vegan, gluten-free, etc?
  6. If we wanted to have a specialty item included, such as a chocolate fountain or an ice sculpture, would you be able to accommodate us?
  7. Have you ever done a theme menu? Are you willing to do one? Would décor be included?
  8. Where will the food be prepared? If it can’t be prepared on site, is there a place available to prepare it? Is there an additional fee for additional equipment?
  9. How is the food arranged? Can you provide pictures?

Pricing

  1. Would passed appetizers and appetizer stations have different costs associated with them? What about a buffet vs. a sit-down meal? Are there any extra costs associated with these prices?
  2. Are children’s meals the same cost as adult meals? What about vendor meals?
  3. Has your company made wedding cakes before? If yes, do you have pictures of the cakes on hand? Would this be part of the per-person meal cost?
  4. What is the cost of a dessert display?
  5. We may decide to use an outside bakery for the cake. Do you charge a cake-cutting fee?
  6. We will definitely want to taste the food before the wedding. Is there an extra charge for this?
  7. Would you take care of renting furniture for the wedding or is this our responsibility?
  8. Are there options for the types of linens, glassware, plates, and flatware that you provide? Will anything be disposable?
  9. If we would like to make the furniture more aesthetically pleasing, would you be able to provide chair covers or lounge furniture? Is there an additional price associated with this change?
  10. Can you provide us with a complete breakdown of your cleanup policy in writing? TIP: It will most likely be your responsibility to keep the venue clean–make sure that the caterer knows that you expect them to clean up!
  11. We don’t want our food to go to waste. If there are any leftovers, will we be able to give it to guests or donate it to a shelter?

Drinks

  1. Will you provide a bar and bartenders? Will they be able to make specialty cocktails?
  2. Which brands of alcohol do you serve?
  3. If we wanted to bring our own liquor, would you be able to provide bartenders? If we brought our own wine or champagne would you charge a corkage fee?
  4. Is there a difference in pricing between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages? Is the pricing per consumption or per person? Which one would you say is more cost-efficient?
  5. If we wanted to have a champagne toast, would the champagne be included in the meal package or would it come at an extra cost?
  6. Is wine included with the dinner pricing?
  7. Will you serve alcohol the entire night or during specified hours?
  8. Is coffee and tea included in the per-person meal price or does it come as an extra charge? What brands are included? Are there decaf and herbal options?

Business Matters 

  1. Based on our guest count, how many servers will you have?
  2. What is the dress attire for servers?
  3. What is the price breakdown for your services? Are tax and service charge included?
  4. Is there an extra fee for set up and break down? How long does this usually take?
  5. Will you put out place cards and favors at the tables?
  6. Are you flexible with overtime? What are the fees associated?
  7. By when do you need a final guaranteed guest count? Is there a minimum number of guests we can invite?
  8. What is your payment policy? Do you accept credit cards?
  9. Do you require a deposit?  How much is it? When is the last payment due?
  10. Are there any additional fees that will not be in the contract?
  11. If we decide to use your company, how long will it take to see a written contract? If there are changes to the contract, will we receive a revised estimate?
  12. What is your refund or cancellation policy?
  13. Can you provide a list of recent references?

Make sure that you feel comfortable with the caterer and love and trust their ideas. Do these things and you’ll have your wedding be the most unique one yet! Now that you know our suggested questions, comment and share your questions about caterers below.