Catering is one of the most important elements of a wedding – or any event for that matter. The quality of the food as well as the service impact the guest experience in a big way. The level of service can also impact the flow of the day and the ease of the day for the bride and her wedding party.
As a seasoned event venue owner, I can tell you that there are so many variances when it comes to caterers, so it’s really important to know what to look for – and what to ask when you’re interviewing one.
For instance, some outside caterers who arrive at our venue drop the food off then leave immediately. This means the wedding party is left to set up the food at the buffet, serve the food, replenish the food, set up the drink station, etc. They are also responsible for clearing the tables and cleaning the kitchen after the food service ends because the caterer has left the building. In this category, the caterer doesn’t leave hot boxes to keep the food warm and at a safe temperature for guests!
Some caterers don’t provide service staff. Other’s don’t provide any non-alcoholic drinks. Some don’t come in uniform while others do. Some don’t cut the wedding cake for guests. Some think ahead and make sure they bring extra ice while others don’t have the foresight to consider that aspect of the event. Some forget to bring tablecloths, disposable plates, flatware, serving utensils, etc. Others have not sent anyone back to pick up the food service items at the end of the event which would incur additional charges at most venues.
A-team vendors are essential for an excellent event that leaves both the wedding couple and their guests happy. It isn’t only the quality of the food that’s important. It’s the level of service.
We’ve put together a list of questions for you to ask your caterer before booking to ensure you have a great event – and to ensure there are no unwelcome surprises on your wedding day!
Questions to Ask Catering Vendors
- What is their pricing? Is there a difference in pricing for children vs. adults?
- Do they have a food minimum?
- What are you getting for the price per person? What’s included and what are the portion sizes? Be sure they will allow you to schedule a tasting prior to selecting your caterer.
- What type of deposit is required and when is final payment due?
- When is final guest count due?
- What is their cancellation policy?
- Will they work with you to create a custom menu?
- Whose responsibility will it be to maintain the food supply in a buffet line and serve food during your event? Will the caterer do this or will they just drop the food off and leave it for you to handle?
- Will the caterer bus and clear the tables?
- Does the caterer provide non-alcoholic drinks and who will be responsible for keeping beverage containers filled?
- How many catering staff members will be provided at your event – if any? Will there be an adequate number in relation to your guest count?
- How will catering staff be dressed? Will they be in uniform and dressed professionally?
- Will they provide a wedding cake cutting service? There needs to be a plan for this so it’s important to know whether or not they do this.
- Will the caterer bring hotboxes to keep food at an adequate temperature that meets food safety standards.
- Is the catering company insured?
- Will the caterer clean up the kitchen before they leave the venue or will that be left to you and your team?
- Will the caterer remove all food and food service items by the end of the event so that you avoid late charges at your venue?
- Will your caterer take care of bringing all necessary utensils, warmers, plates, flatware, drinkware, extra ice, etc.?
- What is the quality of the food? What is the quality of their service? What is their reputation? Be sure to check their reviews.