Catering may not always be the most glamorous wedding planning detail, but it can be one of the more important ones! If you think back to the weddings that you’ve been to, you know that the food you eat at a reception can really make or break that part of the day! People remember if your wedding food is amazing, but even more than that, they’ll remember if your food is just “eh.” Which is why spending time seeking out the right caterer is so important! And can be a really fun step in wedding planning if you’re able to do food tastings with your fiance! You could even get dressed up and make a date night out of it, complete with drinks before or dessert after (if it’s not included!). Regardless of how you go about it, here are a list of 12 questions that we would encourage you to ask your catering prospects.
- What’s the menu? And are there options available for you to choose from?
This is a no-brainer, but should be one of the first things you look into when choosing a caterer! If you don’t like the menu that a caterer offers, then it should be a quick decision to move onto the next option. And while you do want to think about your guests and what you think they’d like, I’d also encourage you to pick food that sounds good to you and your future spouse! After all, it is your day and you want to enjoy the food!
- What’s their price per person?
A lot of caterers are going to market their catering packages to you, which will only have their total cost and the amount of food you get or the amount of people it feeds. But when comparing caterers, it’s worth it to either ask or do the math to see how much each option costs per person. This will help with your decision and your budgeting as it’ll gives you a picture of how much it will cost to have each of your guests at the reception.
- Will they send staff to serve the food?
Whether your doing a buffet, or serving your guests at the table it’s never a bad idea to have staff there to help with serving food. Buffets can get out of hand pretty quickly if people are serving themselves and you run the risk of running out of food for everyone. If there is people there serving the food, not only is this more cleanly, it but also helps control the portions that everyone is getting. This means that everyone will be fed and you won’t run out of any one item. It also helps you understand what you’re paying for if staff are included in your package!
- Do they provide plates, silverware, and napkins?
This may not be one of the first things that comes to mind, but it’s an incredibly important question to ask! A lot of times it will either be the caterer or the event space that provides the dishware and you want to make sure that you know where it’s coming from! It’s also important to look into this because chances are that if either the caterer or event space are planning on providing you with this, they are also already charging you for it. You wouldn’t want to pay double for plates and silverware, and you want to make sure that you know where it’s coming from!
- What do they offer for drinks?
It’s important to look into their drink options because a lot of caterers treat this differently! They may offer water and/or lemonade but if you’re looking to have sodas or alcohol, that could be a whole other ball game. With caterers, you can’t assume that they will have all the options that you’re looking for, especially when it comes to alcoholic beverages. But it’s beneficial to ask your caterer because they most likely have a list of people that they would recommend, or people that they enjoy working with. This will make the day go that much smoother!
- What are their safety practices with Covid-19?
While we know that Covid-19 won’t be around forever (fingers crossed), there are wise practices that could stick around to ensure that your food is clean and safe. Ask your caterer what they do to keep their food uncontaminated and what their staff does to ensure that they are being safe around the food. For some caterers, this will mean that they are requiring you to pay for staff to come to serve the food so all your guests aren’t touching the same utensils. For others, this may mean that they are pre-packaging their meals. There are a lot of options to make sure your reception food is as safe as possible! But I would take it as a red flag if your caterer hasn’t done anything to change their practices since Covid-19 has struck.
- When do they normally deliver the food?
This is an especially important question if you’re using a single venue for your wedding ceremony and reception. You would hate for there to be clanging metal and carts moving around during your ceremony! But even if not, it’s important to know when your caterer is planning to deliver the food to make sure that they have access to the space and that the food area is prepared for them. It’s also important to ask how they plan on keeping the food warm if they’re delivering it in advance of your dinner time.
- What will they do with the leftovers?
You want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth when it comes to catering! This means that whatever is leftover for food is technically yours. Ask your caterer if they will provide to-go containers for the leftover food and check with your venue to see if there is fridge or freezer space for you to store it until it’s time to go. This is yet another reason why it’s important that you like the menu, because there’s a chance you will be freezing the leftovers and eating them in the coming months!
- Will their staff handle the cleanup or will you need to find someone to be responsible for that?
Whether it’s cleaning up the buffet or picking up plates off of guest tables, you want to make sure someone is responsible for it! Again, this may be your catering or event venue staff but you don’t want food sitting out all night or for guest’s tables to be covered in plates. Even if it’s just someone who’s going to package up the leftover food, you want to make sure that someone is taking care of it and it’s worth it to ask your caterer if they can provide that service.
- What are the most popular menu items?
Popularity may not always be the best judge of how good something is, but it’s never a bad question to ask your caterer! They should have a good idea of what items are the most widely enjoyed, which could positively influence your decision! Especially if you are torn on what to order, it won’t hurt to know which items they do the most and therefore have the most experience making!
- Have they ever catered in your reception venue before?
Obviously this shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but there are definitely some pros to your caterer being familiar with the space. This will help when they’re delivering the food, setting up the serving area, or storing the leftovers until you’re ready for them! It’s also helpful if they’ve worked with the event manager! Having wedding vendors that have a previous working relationship has a lot of benefits and should make things run smoother for you.
- How many days prior to the wedding are they going to need your final count?
This is one of those logistical questions that is helpful to know early on in the planning process! If your caterer doesn’t mention it, make sure to ask when they need the final count so you make sure you have that deadline on your calendar as well. This will come in handy when you’re collecting those last minute RSVP’s (there are always some!) and when you’re figuring out the final details. It’s also helpful to ask what their margin is for extra food. You want to make sure that you have too much, not too little when it comes to reception food. Not to mention, you have to account for those few people who never RSVP’ed and will just show up!
Bonus tip if you’re a bride or groom – make sure that you actually sit down and eat the food at your reception! We know way too many couples who get so busy at their reception that they realize at the end of the night that they never even got to eat the food they chose. Make time to sit with your new husband or wife and enjoy the food at your reception! We hope this list of questions was helpful! You can find plenty of other Wedding Wednesday tips on our blog or by clicking here.