Tips: Every Question to Ask Your Caterer

I recently read an article on the Brides blog , “Every Single Question You Need to Ask Your Caterer“.   Working in the catering industry, some of these questions really stood out to me, which I wanted to take the time to go through with you, while other questions really will not matter pertaining to your wedding.  For example, a question directed about the wedding date, “How many weddings will you cater that day?” did not seem to be as important as “Have you need any special permits at my venue?”.   Of course every catering company will treat and execute your wedding as if it is the only wedding in the company!  However, if you are hosting your wedding at an off premise site, you may incur an extra cost with special liquor and licensing permits.

From reading this blog, these would be the most important questions to ask your caterer, coming from a catering company…

Background Information

  • Have you done events at my wedding venue?

You will want to make sure that the caterer has been to the venue before.  You will want the managers in charge to be aware of the layout of the reception area, how functional the kitchen will be to the staff, electrical outlets and overall logistics for the event.  

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

It is extremely important to know who will be executing your wedding day.  This person will run the entire show during your reception.  From formal introductions, introducing the first course with servers, and timing your cake cutting, this person is extremely valuable to you!  Make sure you have an appointment to meet with them at least the week of your wedding, to gain trust and feel more at ease that you will be in good hands the day of.  

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

If you are looking to book a venue that allows multiple caterers, this venue will most likely require the caterer to have their own liquor license.  Caterers will need to apply for this license months ahead of time in order to serve alcohol at the event.  This also will require you, as a client, to pay for this license for the caterer. 

Food and Presentation

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

Let us guide you through the packages that we have to offer for your wedding day, and we will then discuss what options would be available to you with a set budget.  Many caterers can customize packages, which can help you select exactly what you are looking for!  Keep in mind however, although negotiating price may be an option, a catering company will still have financial minimums for weekend nights, and the venue itself may have a minimum amount to spend for a wedding as well as far as renting the space (if it is not an exclusive catering venue).

  • How will you prepare for last minute requests and dietary restrictions?

Chefs will prepare a finite amount of entrees for the evening.  However, a chef would never work a wedding unprepared!  A vegetarian option should always be on your menu under entree selections.  If you are sending out meal cards with your formal invitations, make a comment section for your guests to write any dietary needs that they want you to be aware of beforehand (shellfish allergy, lactose intolerant, vegan).  This way, you can help your chef prepare those specialty meals, and you will be aware of what table that guest is seated at to help your banquet manager and servers.  No matter what, it is a caterer’s duty to make sure every guest is accommodated!

  • What brands of alcohol will be served at the reception?

This should be listed in your proposal with all the listed beer, wine, cordials and all other liquor served at the bars.  You also have options to upgrade your bars or possibly add special bottles to the bar of liquor that is not included within your beverage package. 

Catering Packages

  • Can you explain the price differences between a sit down vs. buffet and stations for the reception?

This is a popular question that comes up during tours and menu meetings with a catering sales team.  Many couples believe that a sit down dinner will cost them more, than a buffet and station reception.  The correct answer…NO!!  There will be just as many servers and bussers working your reception, however the guest will be able to serve themselves of what they would like for the duration of dinner service.  This puts pressure on the kitchen to prepare more food, for servers to keep an eye on every selection on the buffet so food does not run out, keep the lines flowing, and the guest can take as much filet as they would like.  For a sit down, everyone is entitled to the same portions as other guests, and the chef has a head count of each meal ahead of time.  With stations and buffets, there is also more set up involved.  On top of the tables in the reception hall, you may need to incur extra set up fees for the buffet, or an extra staff fee for the catering staff to come in early to finish set up.  These are all reasons that the couples usually do not think about, but that is why we are here to help!

  • How much do you charge for vendors and children’s meals?

Of course these meals will be less than your adult price per person.  Ask the caterer what they can offer to the children attending the wedding, and see what they will serve to the vendors.   Caterers know how hard vendors work during your big day, they will be taken care of! 


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

Any catering staff will usually do all of the above!  Check with your sales person, but also check with your florist to see what they will be doing to set up centerpieces, candles and any extra decor.  

  • What do you do with any leftovers?

If you would like any food packaged up by the end of the night, talk with your banquet manager!  There may be health codes involved with some food, however, if you would like extra food for a scheduled after party, or like any extra pastries for the next day, check to see if the staff can neatly package it for you before the end of the reception!  

  • Do you rent the tables and chairs directly from another company, or are they in house?  If they are rented, do I have a rental fee?

This is a question to ask for off premise caterers.  Most likely, they will be working with a rental company for you, since they know exactly what will need to be ordered.  You may incur extra rental costs, although the stress is taken off of you to order everything for the reception!  The same rule may apply for linen.  Exclusive venues may have linen in house with a few colors to choose from, but they may also work closely with a linen company with a wide variety of colors and designs, all at an extra cost.  Make sure you know exactly what your wedding package includes before you rent anything for the reception!  

I know that this blog contained a lot more information than usual, but these are all great questions to ask at your next tour and menu meeting!  Remember, you hire caterers to work for you.  Let us make your wedding day as easy as possible!

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