Questions to Ask Your Caterer

Food plays an important role in the wedding festivities, so you’ll want to take plenty of time and care when choosing your caterer. Here are some great questions to ask your caterer to ensure that you have a great “wedding feast” without any surprises!

Menu Options and Reception Styles – There is so much variety and choice when it comes to menu selection. It’s no longer “chicken” or “beef”. You can have a traditional sit down dinner, buffet, food stations or cocktail reception. It all depends on your personal preference and budget.

Budget – Let your caterer know your budget up front. Don’t assume that a buffet or food stations is less expensive than a sit down dinner. Remember, it depends more on what type of food you serve that determines the price.

Food Preparation – Does the caterer use all fresh food and produce? Will any of the food for the reception be previously frozen? Most of the “top notch” caterers do not use any frozen foods or anything that comes from a can!

Taste Testing – Ask if your caterer will do a “tasting”. This is where the bride and groom can go sample and taste some of the caterer’s dishes. Yum Yum…

Leftovers – Ask what is done with the leftover food. Particularly, if you are having a buffet or food stations there can be food leftover. Some brides choose to have the leftover food given to a homeless shelter or similar charity organization.

Many couples don’t get a chance to eat much or really enjoy the food during the reception because they’re so busy with their guests. So, ask your caterer to prepare a “leftover basket” with a sampling of all the delicious hors d’oeuvres, main dishes and even dessert. Late that night, the bride and groom can enjoy a wonderful, romantic picnic for two!

Sometimes the leftovers are given to the bride or groom’s parents. It’s especially nice if they are entertaining any out-of-town relatives and don’t have time to cook!

Family Recipes – Ask if dishes can be prepared that are not included on the regular menu. Some brides have a special “family” dish they’d like or a particular type of ethnic food prepared. This is a great way to really personalize your dinner and reception.

Guaranteed Numbers – Many caterers will quote prices based upon a certain number or minimum number of guests. For instance, many caterers base their figures on a minimum of 100 guests. If you’re final guest count is for only 80 guests, there may be an additional fee.

Wedding Cake – Do they offer wedding cakes? Is a wedding cake included in the price? Is there an additional cake cutting fee?

Tax and Gratuities – Are they included in the price? Are there any additional fees that are not included in the quote or proposal?

Ratio of Servers to Guests – Now, this can vary depending on the type of reception you have. One good rule of thumb is to have one server for every 8-10 guests.

Dress Code for Wait Staff – Will they be dressed formally in a black and white tuxedo look?

Decorations – Ask to see pictures of their table displays. Some caterers that do buffets or food stations will include floral arrangements and other decorations. As your wedding plans progress, talk to your caterer about your color theme so that all decorations and floral arrangements will coordinate.

Tableware and Linens – Does the price include table linens, napkins, dishes, and glassware? Ask to see samples. Remember, if you don’t like the tableware or linens they offer, most everything can be rented, but usually at an additional price!

Menu Board – A recent trend when doing buffets or food stations is to have a menu board. This when the names of the entrees and items served are scrolled elegantly onto a piece of paper displayed on a board or in a picture frame. Many guests love to know the names or what’s in those delicious dishes they’ll be eating.

Licenses – Your caterer should be licensed by the state. Most display their license in their office, but if you’re not sure, ask!