Chocolate covered strawberries
Sascha Reinking Photography

If you're searching for a wedding caterer in your area, make sure you get these 12 questions answered before you book.

Which service styles do you offer?

The number one thing to come prepared to tell a caterer at a bridal show: your budget! How much are you willing to spend per guest? Do you want a buffet or plated dinner? Family-style or cocktail-style? This will help you determine the service style that will best suit the flow of your big day from hors d'oeuvres to late-night snacks. 

Can we pick and choose our menu? Or is it fixed?

Typically, a caterer will email you a few sample menus to review with your fiancé(e). What if you don’t want any sashimi, just rolls, at the sushi bar? Or you want tomato, basil, and mozzarella skewers instead of watermelon, mint, and feta skewers? Oh, and you were really hoping to serve brownie bites for dessert. You can reply back with the items that interest you as well as any comments and concerns. Most are more than happy to make any adjustments in the proposal because they want the food to reflect your taste buds. No picky eaters, please!

Do you offer any gluten-, vegan-, or dairy-free options?

It’s extremely important to have an accurate (and allergy-noted) headcount, especially if cousin Paige can’t eat peanuts or aunt Cheryl can’t eat bread and butter. Be mindful of those that must have a different meal than others. You wouldn’t want them to get “hangry.”

Do you give guests the option to pick their entrees?

If you’re opting for meat, chicken, and seafood, it might be beneficial to let everyone check which entree they prefer on their RSVP card. Check with a caterer to see if they are okay with this option. They might even suggest you use WeddingWire’s FREE guest list tool to help track this information.

How can we cut costs?

Perhaps you saw the special section dedicated to cutting costs in our FallBook last year. Caterers across the country gave insider tips and tricks such as: pick out seasonal produce and dish out breakfast for dinner. Bonus: It’s all about choosing more—NOT fewer—sauces for sides!

Do you provide wine and beer?

Caterers can provide wine and beer. Do you want a signature Moscow mule? They can definitely whip up whatever drink your heart desires. However, this is another way to save money if you buy alcohol in bulk. Whatever bottles are left unopened, you can return to receive a reimbursement.

Do you have a liquor license?

If a caterer doesn’t have a liquor license to serve guests 21 years and older, then you’ll have to search for bartender that is a bonafide mixing master.

Do you provide the cake?

If a caterer can't bake the cake, then you’ll have to also search for a cake baker that is a fondant (or buttercream) fanatic. Feel free to ask if they have a preferred list of vendors to speed up the process.

Do you provide rentals?

A caterer can coordinate with rentals. You need more than just tables and chairs; you need glassware, flatware, and dinnerware.

Do you provide vendor meals?

You not only have to feed your guests but also your vendors. After they’ve worked hours throughout the afternoon, it’s a nice gesture to fuel them up with food and water so they don’t get dehydrated.

Is your staff trained?

It takes a team to execute this experience! Waiters and waitresses need to be on their best behavior. A caterer should be able to share what the proper training process involves. Do they know which side to serve and remove plates from? Do they know what to wear to a formal vs. informal event?

Do you have a setup and breakdown fee?

A caterer will require a deposit for the setup and breakdown fee, but it should get applied towards your contract. After it’s all said and done, you’ll be thankful that they were there to do all the “dirty” work. They want you to have a stress-free fête and also surprise them with a tip too!