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15 Mandatory Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer Without Fail

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer
Leaving no stone unturned for a sumptuous wedding feast? Here are a few important questions that you must ask your wedding caterer, to make sure the guests at your reception are more than happy with the food served.
Mukulika Mukherjee
Last Updated: Mar 4, 2018
Useful Tip
Before meeting your wedding caterer, make sure you've decided on things like your budget, the reception venue, a theme for your wedding, etc.
Before you start out with the planning of your wedding, you must note that the food that you serve to your guests at the reception counts a lot. In fact, the food is all that your guests will probably remember and talk about, even days after the wedding. Also, since we spend a lion's share of the budget on food, why not go in for the choicest of catering services? However, here's a catch. How do you know which catering service is the ideal one for your wedding? Is the popularity of the concerned caterer the only deciding factor, or are there other factors at play?

While it always pays to ask around for references, at the end of the day, it's your call to choose one, and you cannot afford to go wrong. When you meet your caterer, you should be smart enough to ask the right questions to avoid any last moment glitches and confusion. You should ask questions that help you gain a fair idea about the quality of service, method of working, hygiene standards, policies, and past clientele of the caterer. But how do know which questions to ask? Well, if you're confused, then here's some help! This Wedessence article brings to you a comprehensive list of questions that can make the task at hand easier than you could ever imagine. So, here goes...
Top 15 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer
1. Does your schedule allow you to cater to my wedding?
This is the very question to begin with. If you hear a 'no' to this, the meeting ends right there!

2. What makes you such a popular name in the catering business, and what do you specialize in?
Just like the restaurants that we visit have their own specialty, so do all caterers. Asking them this question will give you an idea as to whether they can effectively fit into your scheme of things. For example, if you're planning Mediterranean food for your wedding, there's no point discussing the details with a catering service that is known for its sumptuous Thai fare!

3. Can I have a look at some of the work you have done recently?
The purpose of asking this question is to get a chance to look at photographs of past events that the company has catered to. This way, you'll get an idea as to how they lay out the food and decorate the tables.
Catering food
4. Do you have a minimum guest count for the events you take up?
Now, if you're wondering why you should ask this question, it's because caterers have a minimum guest count, and the exact number may vary from one caterer to another. If the minimum guest count is way above the number of guests that you're expecting, then there's no point in going ahead and signing any contract.

5. Can I give my own small inputs, i.e. am I allowed to customize the menu?
This is important. It's one thing if you are happy with the menu they put forth, and another if you wish to add your own creative touch to bring forth a signature buffet for the guests at your wedding reception. If the latter is true, then you should definitely go in for a catering service that can offer you a customized menu.

6. Whom do I contact when I need to?
This one is important. Before you sign the contract, you should be very sure about whom you'll be dealing with, and ask for his/her name and contact details.
Wedding table
7. When is my guest count due?
So you have prepared your guest list and verified the minimum guest count with the caterer. But is that all? Well, it's not, because your guest list may change later, as you may need to include a few more people or strike out a few names. However, you just can't inform them about your revised guest list a day or two before the wedding, isn't it? Hence, you should ask when your final guest count is due.

8. Do you have a liquor license?
If you're planning to serve alcohol, then this question is a must. After all, it is illegal to serve alcohol without one. Another important point to remember is that you should verify with the liquor policy of the venue where you're planning to host your reception.

9. May I know your last health department score?
Make sure you don't miss this one, because the health department score throws light on many things, including the quality of food and hygiene standards.
Wedding banquet table
10. What all things are included under the per head charge? Are there any hidden costs that can crop up later? If yes, what are they? Does your contract include sales tax?
Just because a caterer is quoting a lower per head price, doesn't mean that it's going to be a cheaper affair. Before finalizing the total cost, make sure that there are no hidden charges, and that it covers everything, including the cutlery, table décor, set-up and clean-up charges, special services such as cake cutting, gratuities, and sales tax. Also, ask how much additional amount they would charge you should the event run a little longer than the estimated duration.

11. Will you prepare the floor plan? When will you be coming for a venue walk-through? Can you help prepare a timeline for the event?
Most caterers today, offer to create a floor plan that depicts the seating arrangements of the guests. The catering company representative needs to have a clear idea of how the venue looks like, in order to plan the table arrangements. This brings up the need for a venue walk-through, and you should mutually arrive on a date that is convenient for both parties. There are caterers who are more than ready to help you with the other aspects of planning, right from chalking out a timeline to managing the little details. And if you're not planning to hire a wedding planner, then you should definitely go for this one.

12. How many service staff will be present during the event? Will there be a catering manager present for the event?
This is a crucial question you should not miss. Higher the number of service staff present, better will be the quality of service. Make sure that they are providing at least one personnel for every 20 guests for a buffet-style reception. A catering manager should be present to oversee the entire process.
Wedding cake
13. Can I make changes later on in the menu? If yes, how close to the date of the event?
Flexibility is a key element to consider when you're choosing your caterer, or, for that matter, even the florist or the wedding planner. This is because, you may be required to incorporate changes in the scheme of things, and should be able to do so.

14. What would be the estimate cost of the kind of wedding that I'm planning for?
This question comes late into the meeting with the caterer, after you've discussed a rough idea about the kind of wedding that you want, whether you wish for a customized menu, and the estimate guest count. It will help you determine if this caterer can work for you within the budget that you have set for your wedding.

15. Is there any out-of-this-world idea that you feel I should consider?
You never know who can come up with an idea that you absolutely love! And to top that, wedding caterers who have been in the business for long, have really great ideas up their sleeves. So why not hear them out?
Snacks on banquet table
And Don't Miss Out on These...
✦ Do you hold a catering license? How long have you been in this business?

✦ How often do you guys update the menu?

✦ Where do you source your food products from? Is it possible for you to use organic ingredients?

✦ Do you provide linen, cutlery, glasses, trays, chairs and tables? If yes, what are the designs available? Can we procure them ourselves if we want to?

✦ What is the difference in the cost-per-person for a buffet-style reception and a sit-down setup?

✦ What is your per-head-cost for children's meals?

✦ Will the food be out for the entire course of the event? If not, then for how long? Will there be serving personnel present?

✦ Do you consider people with dietary restrictions, and prepare a separate menu for those chosen few guests?

✦ Will you make arrangements for the food for the other wedding vendors?

✦ Are you okay with theme menus?

✦ Do you provide the wedding cake or do we have to procure it separately? If you do, then are the charges for the same included in the per-head-cost? Are there any additional charges for cake cutting and serving?

✦ What are the brands of alcoholic beverages that you serve? Can we procure it ourselves? Do you charge a corkage fee for serving alcohol? Can you provide a bartender?

✦ Does the cost-per-person also include the champagne toast at the end of the event? If not, how much do you charge for that?

✦ Do you serve tea and coffee? Is the cost for the same included in the per-person cost?

✦ What will the waitstaff be wearing for the event? Is it possible to customize their dress code as per the theme of the wedding reception?

✦ How long will you take for setup and break down?

✦ What about leftover food? Can we take it home or donate it for charity?

✦ What is your cleanup policy?

✦ How many other weddings will your firm be handling on the day of my wedding?

✦ What is your cancellation policy?

✦ Can we just go through the particulars of your contract?

✦ Can you arrange for a tasting? How much would you charge for that?

✦ Can I have the details of your past clients?
Make sure you carry a list of these questions on your next meeting with a caterer. And yes, don't feel hesitant to ask so many questions. After all, a wedding is an event of a lifetime, and you're only taking efforts to make it memorable for yourself and your guests.
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