Make sure you’re asking the right questions when you go to see your wedding caterer! This will save you confusion and hassle later on down the line, and will help you decide if they are the caterers for you…
1. How many weddings do you do a year and how long have you been in business?
Why: This is quite a standard question for any wedding business or any business really that you’re about to hand over a lot of money to. Catering is one of the second most expensive elements so make sure you’re going with a reputable company and one that has plenty of experience with weddings.
2. Will you provide an on-the-day manager? Who will run the entire event and can we meet them?
Why: You may love the person you’re meeting with, but they may not be there on the day and the person that is managing on the day may not be what you want. Make sure you ask how many staff members will be there on the day too.
3. Where does the food come from and what can you do for guests with dietary restrictions?
Why: There may be vegetarian, gluten intolerant or nut allergic guests attending. Make sure you ask this on your invites and make sure your caterer can cater for them. It’s also good to know where the food comes from so you know they’re not overcharging you while importing bad ingredients for cheap. This also gives you an idea of how good the food will be.
4. Given my budget, guest count and wedding style, what food choices would you recommend?
Why: They are the experts (hopefully as previously clarified in question 1). They will know what food would be best to serve for your wedding based on all your limitations and preferences. Make sure you utilise their expertise.
5. Do you have a bar service; do you serve drinks? Can we provide you with alcohol and you provide us with service?
Why: They may charge you more if they bring the alcohol, so see if you can cut this cost down by buying the alcohol yourselves.
6. Is there a corkage fee?
Why: Some catering companies charge for serving alcohol and this can be around £10 per bottle so definitely check this hidden cost.
7. Do we have to work with a preset menu or can you create a custom menu for our event?
Why: You may want a particular meal served on the day or you may not be completely happy with the preset menu(s).
8. Do you offer event packages? What other kinds of catering do you offer other than a la carte?
Why: There may be some ways you can cut costs by choosing an event package. You also many want a grazing table or food stations for guests to help themselves to food and this might be something the caterer can offer.
9. What kind of rental equipment do you provide?
Why: They may provide tables, chairs, linens, cutlery and you will need to source all of these items if they don’t so double check they provide the needed materials and how much it will cost you.
10. What are you water, electrical and equipment needs? Will you need to visit my venue’s kitchen beforehand?
Why: The kitchen may be too small or may charge the catering company for use of it. Also, it will save the caterers time if they go beforehand to know where everything is.
11. What time will you and your staff arrive and how long will it take to setup and break down?
Why: The venue may require wedding suppliers to be there by a certain time or you may need them to be there sooner. Just double check this.
12. How will your staff dress?
Why: There is no point serving beautifully presented food if it’s served by staff in casual jeans and a T-shirt. Make sure there’s a uniform so you get formality in all elements of your catering.
13. How much of a deposit is required and when will I need to pay the full amount?
Why: You don’t want to book a caterer you cannot afford. Make sure their prices are reasonable and you can pay it on a payment plan if needed.
14. What information do you need from be before the day and when is the deadline for a final head count on guests attending?
Why: If for whatever reason you have a bad experience with your caterers and you want some money back, you want to ensure that none of the blame lies with you and you gave them everything they needed to know way ahead of the event. Your guests won’t get back to you straight away either so ensure there’s a reasonable amount of time before the day to give a final guest list.
15. Are there any additional fees you haven’t told me about yet?
Why: You don’t want to be stung by little hidden costs and charges that they haven’t mentioned.
16. When will I receive a written contract?
Why: Nothing is official until it’s on paper. Know when it will arrive so you can plan time to go through it properly and double check all the little details.
17. Do you do menu tastings and do you charge for this?
Why: Another sneaky cost! Some caterers charge you to taste their food so decide whether you would like to do this or not. Obviously, you won’t really know how good the food is until you do this so it’s worth it even if there is a small fee.
18. How much do you charge for childrens’ meals and other suppliers’ meals?
Why: Many catering companies offer a discounted rate for children and suppliers like your photographer or florist who need to be there on the day.
19. Do I need any special permits at my venue and can you obtain these?
Why: Save yourself a job and some money by asking this question! Some catering companies will organise permits and corkage fee charges from the venue themselves and incorporate this in what they charge you so don’t pay for something twice.
20. Will your food be prepared on-site or brought in already prepared?
Why: A more polite way of asking if the food is fresh or frozen! You may be paying quite a lot for your catering. If so, you would want it prepared fresh on site rather than frozen and brought in on the day.
21. How will you handle last-minute requests?
Why: If there’s a guest that adds themselves last minute or you change your mind about something or another supplier lets you down in one aspect of the wedding which affects catering, you want to know how they deal with these requests if at all so you’re not left with a bad experience when turned down for making such a request.