Ultimate Checklist of Questions to Ask Your Caterer
Choosing the right caterer for your celebration is incredibly important. If you are serving a full meal at your vow renewal reception, your food and drink selections will consume the largest portion of your budget. Even if you only opt to serve heavy appetizers, it’s still a vital piece of your vow renewal. Before you make you decide on a caterer and sign a contract with them, it’s important to ask lots of questions about their services and the agreement. To help you ensure that you’re asking all the right questions, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of questions that you’ll want to go over with each prospective caterer. These questions will help you explain to them precisely what you want and need. They will also ensure you’ll don’t encounter any unwanted surprises when working with them.

Print this list out and bring it with you to your first meeting with potential caterers!

Background

  • How long have you been in business here?
  • How many vow renewals and weddings have you done?
  • Are you licensed, with health permits and liability insurance?
  • Are you licensed to serve alcohol?
  • Will we need any special permits for our celebration? If so, do you handle obtaining them?

Catering Budget

  • Do you require a minimum catering budget? If so, what is it?
  • What kinds of catering styles/menu options could we expect with our budget?
  • What recommendations do you have to help maximize our catering budget?

Vow Renewal Date

  • Are you available on our vow renewal date?
  • How many other special events will you cater on the same day?
  • Have you done the catering for events at our reception venue before? If not, are you familiar with them?

Food & Presentation

  • What is your signature food style?
  • Do you specialize in certain cuisines?
  • Given our budget, guest count, and vow renewal style, what menu selections would you recommend?
  • Where do get the ingredients you use? Can you source sustainably farmed or organic ingredients for our event? (Ask, if these factors are important to you!)
  • How do you accommodate guests with allergies and dietary restrictions?
  • Will the food be prepared on-site or be brought in already prepared?
  • How will you handle last-minute requests?

Catering Packages

  • Do you have set catering packages or is everything a la carte? If so, what exactly do your packages include?
  • Do you have set menu selections? Or are you able to create a custom menu for our event?
  • If we have a special dish we’d like served, would you be willing to accommodate it?
  • Can you explain your pricing for a sit-down meal, family-style, buffet, stations, and cocktail-style receptions?
  • How much do you charge for children’s meals?
  • How much do you charge for vendor meals?
  • Is coffee and tea service included in the meal charge? What brands of each do you offer? Are decaf and herbal tea options included?
  • Do you offer drink station packages? (hot chocolate, smoothies, pressed juices, etc.)
  • Do you also make cakes? If so, is this charge included in the per-person meal price or is it extra?
  • If we use an outside cake designer, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?
  • If we decide not to serve cake for dessert, do you offer other dessert options? If so, what are they?
  • Do you do menu tastings? Is there a charge for this?
  • What types of linens, glassware, plates, and flatware do you provide?
  • Do you handle rental equipment such as tables, chairs, etc.?
  • Do you provide rental upgrades (chair covers, lounge furniture, Chiavari chairs, etc.)? What are the additional fees?

Alcoholic Drinks

  • Do you offer alcoholic beverages and bartenders?
  • What types of bar packages do you offer?
  • We are thinking of having a signature cocktail, can you accommodate this?
  • Do you accommodate specialty cocktails?
  • What brands of alcohol will be served?
  • Can we provide the alcohol and you provide the bar labor? Is so, do you charge a bottle fee?
  • Do you charge a corkage fee if we provide our own wine or champagne?
  • How do you charge for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages? Per consumption or per person? Which is more cost-effective?
  • Is the champagne toast after the ceremony included in your meal packages or is it extra?
  • Will your staff serve the wine with dinner?
  • How long will alcohol be served?

Logistics

  • Will you provide an on-site catering coordinator to run the entire event or banquet manager to coordinate the meal service? If so, when can we meet this person?
  • How long will it take your team to set-up and break down the catering?
  • What is the ratio of servers to guests?
  • What time will you and your staff arrive at our venue?
  • Will your team handle all table settings? Will they light candles, put out place cards, and put out our favors?
  • What is your policy on cleanup?
  • How will your staff dress?
  • How do you handle tips for your staff?
  • What do you do with leftovers?
  • What are your water, electrical, and equipment needs?
  • What information do you need from me before the day of our vow renewal?

Payment

  • Are there any additional fees that have not already been taken into account?
  • How far in advance do we need to secure your services?
  • How much would the deposit be and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan?
  • When is the final payment due?
  • What is your refund policy if we need to cancel our order?
  • How far in advance would we need to finalize the menu?
  • How far in advance would we need to finalize the guest count?
  • When can we expect to receive a contract from you?
  • When will you provide me with a detailed proposal of all the catering details we’ve discussed today, along with itemized prices?