Sneak Peek #6: Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer

Photo courtesy of Erica Lynn Photography

Part 6 of Hitch Studio’s Wedding Day Designer Sneak Peek series!

This series includes sneak peeks of sections directly from the Wedding Day Designer! The Wedding Day Designer is our 148-page all-inclusive wedding planner, including checklists, timelines, tips, and more. Buy the full wedding planner HERE!


The Basics

•    Do you have our date open? How far in advance do we need to reserve the date?

•    How long have you been in business? How many weddings do you do per year?

•    Have you worked an event at this venue before?  TIP: If you haven’t chosen your location yet, ask the caterer if they can help you select one.

•    Are you licensed and insured for serving and cooking?

•    Are you permitted to work at my chosen venue?

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

•    Will you provide a banquet manager or an on-site coordinator to coordinate the entire event?

•    Can you do catering for the rehearsal dinner or other wedding events?

•    Can you provide a list of recent references?

•    When do you require the final guest head count?


•    How is your pricing broken down (food, bar, cake-cutting, tax, gratuity, buffet vs. served meal, etc.)?

•    What is the service charge and what does it include?

•    Do you offer event packages or is everything à la carte? What do your packages include?

•    What’s the difference in cost between passed appetizers and appetizer stations? What’s the price  difference between a buffet and a sit-down meal? If we have a buffet, are there any stations that cost extra, like a carving station?

•    Do you offer package upgrades such as chocolate fountains, ice sculptures, espresso machines, etc.?

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

•    If my event runs longer/later than contracted, what are your overtime fees?

•    Are there any fees that won’t be included in the proposal that we should be aware of?

•    Do you carry liability insurance?

•    What is the deposit and final payment plan for the entire bill? What forms of payment do you accept?

•    What is your cancelation/refund policy?

•    When will I receive the contract? (Make sure to get everything in writing in the final contract.)

•    If changes are made to menu choices or other items, how soon will you provide a revised estimate?Food & Presentation

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

•    What type of dinner service (sit down, stations, tapas, family style, buffet, etc.) do you recommend?

•    Do you do food tastings? Is there an extra charge? How many people can I bring?

•    Can you customize a menu? Do you specialize in certain cuisines?

•    Can you accommodate dietary restrictions, such as gluten free, vegetarian, kosher, vegan, etc.?

•    Do you use all fresh produce, meat, fish, etc.? Can you source organic or sustainably farmed ingredients?

•    Can you accommodate or replicate a favorite family recipe?

•    Can you do theme menus (e.g. barbecue, luau, etc.)?

•    Do you cook on-site at the venue site?

•    How will the dinner/stations/buffet be presented and served to guests?  What décor do you provide for appetizer stations or buffet tables?

•    How will the plated meals be served? Synchronized service?

•    Will appetizers be passed or station style?

•    Do you handle rental equipment such as tables, chairs, etc.?

•    Does the caterer handle details like linens, napkins, chargers, specialty rentals, etc.?  What are the color options for the table linens and cloth napkins?

•    What types of glassware, plates and flatware do you provide?

•    Can you provide presentation upgrades such as chair covers, lounge furniture, Chiavari chairs, etc.? What would be the additional fees?

•    Do you make wedding cakes or desserts? If so, is this included in the per-person meal price or extra?

•    If we use an outside cake designer, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?  Will you cut it, plate it and serve it?

•    If there is leftover food from my event, can we have it wrapped up for guests to take home or have it delivered to a local shelter?


•    Will the caterer provide alcohol or do you need to handle the bar separately? Can I provide my own alcohol and does the caterer charge a fee for that? 

•    Are you licensed to serve alcohol? Refer to page 51 with questions about alcohol/bartending.

•    Do you provide alcoholic beverages and bartenders? Can you accommodate specialty cocktails?

•    How do you charge for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages? Per consumption or per person? Which is more cost-effective?

•    Can we provide the alcohol and you provide the bar labor?

•    Do you charge a corkage fee if we provide our own wine or champagne?

•    Is the champagne toast after the ceremony included in your meal packages or is it extra?

•    Will your staff serve wine with dinner?

•    Is coffee and tea service included with the per-person meal charge? What brands of each do you offer and do you include decaf and herbal tea options?

•    How long will alcohol be served?

•    Can you provide bottled water or a drink station for the ceremony?


•    How much time do you require for setting up and breaking down the event? Is this an extra fee?

•    What kind of set-up do you need?  (Kitchen, water, prep tables, garbage, parking, access, etc.)

•    How many staff members do you have working on my wedding day?  (You’ll want one server for every 10-15 guests for a plated meal and one server for every 20-30 guests for buffet style.)

•    How will the servers be dressed?

•    Will you clear the tables after serving (clear plates, glasses, etc. even if disposable)?

•    What is your policy on cleanup? Be very clear about what “cleanup” means and who’s responsible for handling it—and be sure to get it in writing. In most cases, when you rent a location it will be YOUR responsibility to leave the place in acceptable condition.

 What to prepare for your caterer

•    Have your solidified guest count ready on the date requested, along with all special meal requests and quantities (gluten-free, vegan, children’s meals, etc.).

•    Tell them if you’re using chargers. It may mean them setting the silverware wider apart than usual.

•    If you’re providing printed menus at each place setting, be sure to have someone assigned to place these cards on top of the napkins, chargers, etc. (since those items may arrive after the caterer).

•    Appetizer choices (warm or cold, finger food or need utensils)

•    Dinner choices (meat, vegetable, starch, salad, etc.)

•    Dessert choices

•    Send them a timeline of your day.

Want to see more questions for wedding vendors? The Wedding Day Designer is 148 pages packed full of wedding planning information, written by an expert Certified Wedding Planner. The Wedding Day Designer can be purchased here!

1 thought on “Sneak Peek #6: Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer”

  1. My best friend and her fiance need to find the right caterer for their wedding in April. It makes great sense to ask potential caterers about their licensing and insurance for handling food before hiring them. I think my friends would also benefit from reading the reviews online about catering companies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top