Salad plates wedding menu
Photo: Brooke Lark

What can you prepare within our budget?

One of the largest line items in your wedding budget will undoubtedly be your food and drink. Before you get started with the finer details let the caterer know your budget, so they can give you an idea of what they can prepare for you within that amount.

Do you have a specialty cuisine or item you think we should consider?

Maybe you had thought you would serve a traditional chicken dinner, but you start talking to your wedding caterer and she informs you that she specializes in dim sum and it will work out to a similar cost. Each caterer usually has a specialty, so inquire about what they love to cook.

What do you require from the venue?

Of course, it's ideal if your caterer has worked an event at your venue before, but that can't always happen. Get a thorough list of what the catering company would need from the venue, such as appliances, dishes, or parking spaces.

What are you licensed for?

Paperwork is the least fun part of wedding planning, but it has to get done. Talk to your wedding caterer about what they are licensed for (liquor, etc.) and what you need to provide.

What type of contingency plans will be in place?

Back-up plans are always a good thing for things like illness, traffic delays, and staffing issues. Ask them about what they have in place in case one of these unfortunate (albeit rare) incidents occur.

Do you prepare special diet meals?

If you have guests with dietary restrictions, make sure to inquire about what they can make for those friends and family. If they don't prepare special meals, you can always get those dishes elsewhere, but it's good to be aware before you make your decision.

What do you do for staff/vendor meals?

While it is proper for you to provide meals for key vendors like your wedding planner and photographer, it doesn't have to be the $50 a plate dinner you are serving to your guests. Many caterers will offer a more affordable, but still tasty, staff or vendor meal.

Is it possible that you will book more than one wedding on my wedding date?

While it's not a dealbreaker for many couples, it is helpful to know if your caterer is coming to your event directly from another wedding, or will be leaving at a specific time.

Do you have additional service fees (cake cutting, corkage, etc.), if I opt to go to different vendors for my alcohol and cake?

Laws vary from state to state about who can serve alcohol and where it is purchased. Make sure you are clear with your caterer and/or alcohol vendor about your state's requirements. Also ask about various service fees so unexpected items aren't tacked to the bill later.

Can you please breakdown your costs for me? For example, is gratuity for servers included?

Again, all these tiny items add up. For many companies, bartending staff normally puts out a tip jar. If you would prefer to cover that cost yourself, then negotiate that ahead of time. Ask for a detailed list of all anticipated costs.