7 Questions to Ask Before Booking Your Caterer

 

I’m in the midst of helping a bride research and book her caterer right now, and we are discovering that not every caterer provides the same services. Since food is often one of the biggest budget items for a wedding, I thought it would be helpful to provide a list of questions to ask when researching caterers. Happy planning!

 
Photo courtesy of Mariah Gentry Photography; Food by ACT 3 Catering

Photo courtesy of Mariah Gentry Photography; Food by ACT 3 Catering

 

Initial Questions via Introductory Email or Phone Call:

1. Are you available on my wedding date?

This question alone determines whether you will be continuing your communication with this company. If not, that's one less to contact later; if they are, then awesome - you have more choices!

2. Can you accommodate my anticipated number of guests?

Again, this question might have you crossing off a vendor or two. Most traditional catering companies will have no problem accommodating weddings of any size, but if you are trying less traditional alternatives like a local restaurant, you want to make sure they can handle your crowd.

 
Here is an email template to help you streamline this step of the process. You can copy and past to send out in your first round of caterer inquiry emails.

Here is an email template to help you streamline this step of the process. You can copy and past to send out in your first round of caterer inquiry emails.

 

Follow-up Questions For Comparing Caterers:

3. What suggestions do you have for coming up with a menu that will fit my budget?

If you are being realistic with your food budget, most caterers will be able to provide you with an idea of a menu that they will be able to prepare for you and keep you within your projected budget. Don't forget to ask if the price that they are giving you will include taxes, service fees, and gratuity, because those items can quickly add up!

4. What services are included in this price? How will the price change if we need to add any of them on?

Items you'll want to check on: delivery of food, set-up and clean-up, buffet or sit-down dinner, corking fee, and cake cutting fee.

5. Are linens and place settings handled by the caterer, or will I be in charge or arranging these for myself?

Every caterer is different. Some own their own linens and dishes, some prefer to handle all of the rentals so that all necessary items are reserved, and some are more flexible and work with the couple to determine who is responsible for this item. Remember that if the caterer handles the rentals for you, the cost will be higher than a caterer who is just quoting you on food. However, if you price out handling all of the rentals yourself, chances are the prices will end up pretty comparable. It just depends on how much of the rental arranging you want to do yourself. A definite bonus to working with a full-service caterer who handles all of the rentals is that you won't have to make sure that the dishes get washed before returning them to the rental company!

 
Photo courtesy of Mariah Gentry Photography; Food by ACT 3 Catering

Photo courtesy of Mariah Gentry Photography; Food by ACT 3 Catering

 

Final Questions After You've Narrowed Down Your Choices:

6. How do you handle your contract?

You will want to know how much of a deposit they require, when it is due, when and how the final payment is due, and how you will be signing your contract. Always make sure to maintain a copy of the contract for your records!

7. What other information do you need from me to help everything go smoothly?

Your caterer will want to know certain details about your wedding as the date draws closer. This will include items like a venue layout, including where the catering and guest tables will be; a final head count so they know how much food to order and prepare; your timeline for the day, including exactly when each part of the meal and drinks will be served; and contact information on who they should be in touch with if they have any additional questions during those last precious weeks before your wedding! 

 
Photo courtesy of Mariah Gentry Photography; Food by ACT 3 Catering

Photo courtesy of Mariah Gentry Photography; Food by ACT 3 Catering

 

I hope this helps you as you work to pin down a caterer for your wedding. Remember, the right one for your wedding is out there!

Here's a free printable/editable document that you can use to keep track of your caterer information.

Click image to open document. Feel free to make a copy of it to your own Google Drive or print directly from the file!


Are you in the midst of your wedding planning and feeling overwhelmed?

I'd love to sit down with you and discuss how my services can help you have a more peaceful wedding planning process.