Questions To Ask The Caterer

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  • Make sure the caterer is licensed or you may be liable if something happens.
  • If outdoors, make sure they have refrigeration.
  • Find out how they dress.
  • What is the estimated cost per person for a seated dinner? Buffet? Cocktail reception? Open bar? What does the cost include?
  • What is the staff-to-guest ratio? (For seated meals, the ratio is usually one waiter to 8-10 guests.)
  • Have you worked at my prospective reception sites? Can you recommend other sites for weddings?
  • Do you have a set menu? Can the menu be modified?
  • Can the kitchen staff adhere to special dietary restrictions for some guests who may be diabetic, kosher, vegetarian?
  • Do you have liability coverage – including liquor liability?
  • Can you supply me with a list of references? (Contact two.)
  • How much advance time is needed to confirm a reservation?
  • Can I arrange to view the catering of another wedding reception to check food display, service style, flow, organization? Can we arrange to taste foods on the menu you suggest?
  • Do you set the tables? Provide linens? Order floral arrangements? Coordinate the music?
  • What additional charges might be incurred other than the food, beverages, and rental of requested extras?
  • What is the policy for payment, tipping? (Some caterers request cash, others accept checks or credit cards. Some include gratuities in the base or overall price, others do not.)
  • How much advance time will you need to set up?
  • Can you send me a confirmation letter including the wedding date and time, names of service help, tipping policy, decorating time, color schemes, menu, cost per person?
  • Can I see available linens? What is the additional rental cost?
  • How much food is enough? (Ten to twelve hors d’oeuvres per person is adequate. With buffets, offer a choice of two entrees.)
  • Will the hors d’oeuvres be hand served or on a buffet?
  • How much are your overtime and cancellation costs?
  • Can you give me a ceiling on anticipated menu price increases? (Caterers quote final prices 90 days prior to the wedding. Due to rising food costs, an increase might be 10%.)
  • When will the wedding cake be delivered (if your caterer will provide you with one)? Is the cake cut by the banquet staff?
  • Can we go over placement of the head table – on a raised platform or floor level, dais or round table?
  • How many drinks does each bottle of liquor, champagne, provide? Is there an opening fee per bottle of champagne?
  • Will you feed the photographers, the musicians?
  • What is the guarantee requirement for number of guests?
  • When must I provide a final guest count?

Get all estimates in writing; contracts should state what food and drink is to be served, how many servers will be needed, and a provision to inform the caterer of the final number of expected guests at least a week before the wedding.


Do You Have A Catering Question For Us?Our staff is always ready to assist you as you plan your important day. If you have a catering question or concern that is not included in the above information, feel free to send us your question and our staff will respond with an answer, usually within a few days. Please be sure to include your correct e-mail address or else we won’t be able to contact you.

Best wishes!

–The Wedding Details Staff

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