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Published – 6/26/2023 | Revised 4/6/2024

When selecting a wedding caterer for your reception, it’s important to consider more than just the taste of the food. While the quality of the cuisine is significant, there are several other factors to take into account when hiring a wedding caterer. To assist you in making an informed decision, we have compiled a comprehensive list of questions for you to ask potential wedding caterers. These questions cover various aspects such as dietary accommodations, staffing, menu customization, and more. By asking these questions, you can ensure that the caterer you choose can deliver an exceptional dining experience on your special day. Keep scrolling to review the questions, and be sure to download the printable PDF for your convenience.

  • Do you have our date available?
  • Have you ever worked at our wedding venue?
  • Do you have other weddings or events on the weekend of my wedding?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many weddings do you do per year?
  • Are you available to do a venue walk-through before the wedding date? If so, is there an additional fee?
  • Do you have a license and liability insurance?
  • Are you licensed to serve alcohol?
  • Will I need any permits for my event? If so, will you handle obtaining them?
  • What is the dress code for your staff?
  • Can you provide references?
  • Photo Credit: Wilde Company
  • What meal service styles do you offer (plated dinner, buffet, family style, etc.)?
  • Given my budget, guest count, and event style, what food choices would you recommend? Do you specialize in certain cuisines?
  • Where do you source your ingredients?
  • Can you accommodate special menu requests and guests’ allergies or dietary restrictions such as kosher, vegan, etc.? Are there additional charges for dietary restrictions and menu adjustments?
  • Do we have to work off a preset menu, or can you create a custom menu for our event? If I have a special dish I’d like served, would you accommodate that?
  • Do you use all fresh produce, meat, fish, etc.? Can you source organic or sustainably farmed ingredients?
  • Can you do theme menus (e.g. barbecue, luau, etc.)? Would you also provide the décor?
  • Will you provide children’s meals? If so, what’s the pricing?
  • What do you provide for vendor meals? Do you feed your staff, or am I responsible for feeding them?
  • How much do you charge for vendor meals?
  • 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? NOTE: Don’t automatically assume that a buffet is going to be the less expensive option. Ask your caterer which type of service is more affordable for you, given the menu you’re planning.
  • Do you do food tastings and is there an extra charge for this? If there is a charge for the food tasting, can it be applied to our final invoice if we hire you to cater our event?
  • If you do provide a food tasting, what food can I try?
  • Do you offer package upgrades such as chocolate fountains, ice sculptures, espresso machines, or specialty displays?
  • What décor do you provide for appetizer stations or buffet tables?
  • What is your policy on cleanup? TIP: Be very clear about what “cleanup” means and who’s responsible for handling it—and be sure to get it in writing. We’ve heard many tales about caterers that left dirty dishes, trash, and uneaten food behind. In most cases, when you rent a location, it will be YOUR responsibility to leave the place in acceptable condition. You want to spend your wedding night with your honey, not picking up empty bottles from the lawn!
  • 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?
Photo Credit: Rebecca Vaughan Photography
  • Do you do wedding cakes? If so, is this included in the per-person meal price, or is it extra?
  • Can you show me photos of cakes you’ve done in the past?
  • If I decide not to serve cake, do you offer other dessert options?
  • If we use an outside cake designer, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?
Cake: EastLeigh Desserts


  • Do you provide alcoholic beverages and bartenders?
  • Can you accommodate specialty cocktails?
  • Can you list what brands of alcohol you pour?
  • Can we provide the alcohol, and you provide the bartender?
  • What is the cost for bartenders?
  • Do you charge a corkage fee if we provide our own wine or champagne?
  • How do you bill for beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic)? Do you charge per guest or per amount of drinks served? Which option is normally the most cost-effective?
  • Is a champagne toast after the ceremony included in your meal packages, or is it extra?
  • Does your meal package include wine being poured during dinner?
  • Is there a time restriction on how long the open bar can run?
  • Is coffee and tea service included with the per-person meal charge? What brands of each do you offer, and do they include decaf and herbal tea options?

    Photo Credit: Knotting Hill Photography
  • Where will the food be prepared? Are there certain equipment, power, and water needs you require?
  • Will you provide a catering captain/banquet manager to coordinate the meal service?
  • How long does the meal service usually take?
  • What time will you and your staff arrive at the site?
  • How much time does your team need for setup and breakdown? Are we expected to help?
  • How many staffers (servers, bussers, bartenders, captains, culinary, etc.) will be at my event?
  • What is your ratio of servers to guests?
  • Are the servers/staff employees of the company or temporary staff?
  • Do you handle setting the tables? If so, what does that include (i.e., placing linens, plates, flatware, glassware, etc.)?
  • Do you handle rental equipment such as linens, tables, chairs, etc.?
  • What types of linens, glassware, plates, and flatware do you provide?
  • Do you provide any décor for food tables like appetizer stations or buffet tables?
  • Is there an additional fee to move ceremony chairs to the reception?
  • How do you handle gratuity for your staff?
  • What do you do with leftover food?
  • How much time do you require to set up and break down my event, and are there extra fees for this?
  • If my event runs longer than contracted, what are your overtime fees?
Photo Credit: Rebecca Vaughan Photography
  • How is your pricing broken down (e.g. food, bar, cake-cutting, tax, gratuity)?NOTE: Usually tax and a service charge are tacked on to your final cost. The service charge, which can range 18–23%, is used to tip the staff. And in many states, the service charge itself is taxable.
  • What is your payment policy? Do you accept credit cards?
  • How much of a deposit is required to hold my date? When is the final payment due?
  • Are there any fees that won’t be included in the proposal that we should be aware of?
  • Once we book with you, how quickly can we expect a contract? And if we make changes to menu choices or other items, will you update us with a revised estimate and contract?
  • What is the last date by which I can give you a final guaranteed guest count?
  • Once the guest count is given, do you allow for changes to be made?
  • What is your refund or cancellation policy?

We have a printable version with space for you to make notes. Download your Free copy here. Be sure to check out the amazing caterers and other vendors on Happily Connected!


Feature Photo Credit: Wilde Company


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