40 Questions to Ask a Wedding Caterer During the Planning Process

It’s time to find the perfect vendor for your big day.
Wedding catering meal
Photo: 515 Photo Co.
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Jan 29, 2024

Once you've found your dream wedding venue, it's time to finalize all the details that make up your special day, including hiring a wedding caterer. Food and drink play a big role in how your guests enjoy themselves so you'll need to think of questions to ask your wedding caterer to ensure everything goes without a hitch. Wedding catering is a good chunk of your budget so you shouldn't take the decision lightly. When you're researching potential caterers, remember: Not only should the food be delicious and plated beautifully, but your ideal wedding caterer (which you can find on The Knot Vendor Marketplace) must also tick other important boxes.

To help make the interviewing and planning process simple, we've created a list of questions to ask a caterer for the wedding reception and beyond. This will ensure you've covered all your bases and that you and your guests will be happy and satisfied.

Questions to Ask Wedding Caterers:

Printable Checklist | Background and Experience | Budget and Packages | Food Details | At the Tasting | Logistics

Printable Wedding Caterer Questions Checklist

Want to be able to quickly access all the questions to ask your caterer? Save this inquiry checklist to your device or print it so you don't miss a thing.

Printable question checklist for wedding caterer
Design: Natalie Romine

Questions About Background and Experience

Before you book your wedding caterer, you need to do a preliminary interview to get to know them. Think of these as the perfect speeding dating vendor questions.

1. Are you available on our wedding date?

    You probably already know this, but you must ensure your desired catering company is free for your wedding weekend or day. Once you get a guarantee on your date, you can ask the rest of the questions below.

    2. Can you tell me about your catering staff and servers?

      The wedding caterer's staff and servers are an important part of the package because they'll be engaging with your guests throughout the reception. Listen to how the caterer company's owner or manager speaks about their staff and look at their body language to see if they seem excited about working with the group.

      3. What's your wedding catering experience?

        As with any wedding vendor, it's vital to work with someone who knows what they're doing and will deliver on their promises. Don't be afraid to ask about their experience. If they don't have as much professional history as you'd prefer, consider other wedding caterers.

        4. How many weddings have you done?

          This is an extension of the previous question. By asking this, you can find out how much practice they have catering a wedding. You should also ask them if they have catered for a wedding of your size so you can know whether or not they would be overwhelmed. Remember, catering small parties isn't the same as catering a wedding weekend.

          5. Do you have photos and videos of your work from past events?

            Because you can't get a feel for their style by reading a menu, Andrea Correale, an innovative event caterer and Founder of Elegant Affairs, recommends asking to see photos of their entrees and plating to ensure they meet your expectations and style. For example, if you want rustic-style Southern dishes for your celebration, you'll want to avoid a caterer with photos and videos of their luxury dishes served on fine china.

            6. Does your company have liability insurance?

              The legal side of wedding planning isn't the most fun aspect, but you must cover it. Ask the wedding caterer if they have the proper catering liability insurance. You don't want to be responsible for any incidents that may happen on the wedding day.

              7. Have you catered at my venue before?

                This is a major bonus if the catering company is already familiar with how things flow at your wedding venue. Having experience with your venue means they know the best places to set up and all the venue's rules.

                8. Can you provide client references?

                  Wondering what to ask a wedding caterer during the first consultation? Ensure you ask for client references so you can see reviews from real couples. Look for mentions of their professionalism and, most importantly, the food quality and how it tasted.

                  9. Does your catering company have a food license?

                    To run their business legally, your desired catering company has to have a food safety license. The rules on the license and the permits required depend on the location your event will be in, so research those requirements so you know what to look for.

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                    Questions About Budget and Packages

                    Your wedding budget will determine what catering companies you can afford. Here are the questions to ask a caterer for your wedding that involve finances and contract specifics.

                    10. What's included in your package?

                      Transparency is key when booking any wedding vendor. For this reason, ensure you're crystal clear on what you're getting as part of their package. For instance, appetizers, certain alcohol brands, vendor meals, and more might not be a part of the pro's catering package.

                      11. Do you provide all of the rentals?

                        In addition to delicious food, you'll also need all the necessary rentals to complete the dining experience. That includes tables, chairs, tablecloths, plates, flatware and glassware. Some wedding venues will provide these items. If your wedding venue doesn't, ask the wedding caterer if they provide them or coordinate rentals as part of their package. If they will, Correale suggests asking about the style of these rentals to ensure they complement your wedding's aesthetic. If those items aren't to your liking, ask if there's an option to upgrade.

                        12. Do you offer bartending services?

                          Looking for a catering company that's a one-stop shop for all your food and drink needs? Then, ask if they offer wedding bartending and drink packages. If they can serve alcohol at your wedding, double-check that they have a liquor license.

                          13. Are non-alcoholic beverages included in the food package?

                            Some catering businesses include non-alcoholic drinks like soda, water and mixers in their standard offerings. Even if your caterer doesn't have these beverages in the package, you should definitely have these options for people who don't drink alcohol.

                            Food truck at wedding
                            Photo: Lauren Fair Photography
                            Caterer: Farm Truck Philly

                            Questions About Food Details

                            You want your wedding meal to be memorable and delicious. Use these 13 questions to ask a wedding caterer to achieve those goals.

                            14. What types of meal service do you offer?

                              This question refers to whether the caterer does buffet or plated meals. If you want a more casual and relaxed feel, opt for the buffet or family-style meal service. For those who want their guest to have a fine dining experience, choose plated meals.

                              15. How will the food be prepared on the wedding day?

                                This is important to ask a caterer for a wedding because you need to know if the caterer will need extra equipment to prepare at the venue. It also lets you know if the food will be made at their facility, then brought to the venue or made at the venue's kitchen. This question can help you avoid possible obstacles in the future.

                                16. Are menus fixed or can we create a custom menu?

                                  A question like this lets you know how much work you have to put into your menu. If you don't want to worry about creating a menu from scratch, a caterer with only fixed menus could be perfect. For those who want to personalize their offerings, get a caterer who will be receptive to your wedding food ideas.

                                  17. What are your company's most popular dishes?

                                    The caterer's popular dishes can inspire what you serve on your menu. If the vendor is open to you, ask if they can add a special twist to one of their popular dishes so it feels unique to your event.

                                    18. Do you offer menu tastings?

                                      Typically, every wedding caterer offers menu tastings for the to-be-weds. Being able to taste and experience the wedding caterer's work firsthand might be what seals the deal. It's an opportunity to see the portion sizes and plating style, ask follow-up questions and offer feedback. Be sure to ask if there are any differences between the tasting meal and what will be served on the wedding day. Correale says there could be an additional fee for a menu tasting, and they can be pricey, so make sure you check upfront.

                                      19. How many people can I bring to the menu tasting?

                                        Usually, pros cap the number of people at the menu tasting to four. That means you, your partner and two people whose opinions you trust can be in attendance. Menu tasting can be up to $1,000 for four people, so think carefully about if you need to bring anyone besides your partner.

                                        20. Do you serve meals for children?

                                          Children can be picky eaters, so it's best to have toned-down options for the little ones. Ask your potential food vendor if they're willing to make pizza, french fries, hamburgers and other kid-friendly food.

                                          21. What are the portion sizes for each dish?

                                            You don't want your guests to leave your wedding hungry. Inquire about the portion sizes so there aren't any surprises on your wedding. (You'll see examples of the dishes during the menu tasting.)

                                            22. Do you provide vendor meals?

                                              Various wedding vendors will require a meal since they'll be at the celebration all day. Speak with your caterer about making special dishes for these pros.

                                              23. Do you have options for guests with allergies or dietary restrictions?

                                                Every year, couples become more accommodating about offering food that fits their guests' allergies and dietary restrictions. Don't let this be an afterthought. Ask the catering company what options they have and if it will be an extra charge. (Psst. Couples can filter caterers based on dietary options on The Knot Vendor Marketplace.)

                                                24. Is the food you use locally sourced?

                                                  Being environmentally conscious has flowed into the way couples plan their wedding. Experts say local produce is one of the many 2024 wedding food trends because it saves couples money in the long run since they're choosing seasonal items, tastes better, results in less waste and more.

                                                  25. Do you make wedding cakes or other desserts?

                                                    Some catering companies have their own cake and pastry chefs. Check to see if they have any sweets you can add to your package.

                                                    26. Is there a cake-cutting fee?

                                                      Even if your desired caterer doesn't bake desserts, you could still ask for their help in other ways. Ask if their staff can cut and serve your cake. This might result in a wedding cake-cutting fee, so discuss this additional cost upfront.

                                                      Questions to Ask Wedding Caterer at the Tasting

                                                      The tasting is when you and your partner will see your wedding menu come to life. These are the top five questions to ask a caterer during a tasting.

                                                      27. Can I book more tastings before the wedding?

                                                        We get it. Some people are perfectionists and want their wedding dishes to be sublime. If there are a few tweaks that need to be made after your first tasting, inquire to see if you can schedule another tasting so you and the caterer can finalize the menu.

                                                        28. When do you need my final menu decisions?

                                                          Speaking of finalizing the menu, you need to ask when your final decisions are needed. Your caterer must order all the equipment and ingredients necessary for your dishes far in advance so they're ready for your big day. Write this date on your calendar.

                                                          29. Will these servers and chefs be available on my wedding day?

                                                            If the staff serving you during the menu tasting are the ones that will help with your wedding, you'll be able to see firsthand how good the food tastes and how the waitstaff will interact with guests. Think of this as a test run for the special day.

                                                            30. What is the server-to-guest ratio?

                                                              Correale recommends asking about their server and bartender-to-guest ratio. This ensures your guests are well taken care of during the reception.

                                                              31. Can I meet the staff working on the tasting?

                                                                Introduce yourself to the catering staff. Getting acquainted with the employees is important because they'll be key in making your dream wedding a reality (plus, it's the polite thing to do).

                                                                Charcuterie table at wedding
                                                                Photo: Anna Kim Photography

                                                                Questions about Wedding Catering Logistics

                                                                Now it's time to get more strategic. Ask these essential questions to ensure everything is prepped for the wedding.

                                                                32. When do you need the final headcount?

                                                                  The final headcount determines lots of things at your wedding. Besides the seating, this number impacts your caterer––you want there to be enough food for everyone. Don't forget to include you, your partner and your vendors in your final headcount.

                                                                  33. What's the deposit, cancellation and refund policy?

                                                                    Ask for the catering company's deposit, cancellation and refund policy, preferably outlined on paper or in a contract. You never know what can happen in the future, so it's best to know what your options are.

                                                                    34. Are there additional fees I need to know about?

                                                                      Correale warns there are often additional fees or upgrade charges with catering, which can throw off your wedding budget. See what additional charges can be possibly added to the invoice beyond what's stated in the proposal.

                                                                      35. What things do you require to cater at our venue?

                                                                        Once the menu is finalized, your food vendor should have a better idea of what materials they need. Take note of these requirements and discuss them with your venue coordinator and wedding planner.

                                                                        36. How much time do you need to set up and clean up?

                                                                          Once you've asked your venue when your vendors can set up and clean up, you can relay this information to your caterer. This question helps everyone stay on the same page and keep organized.

                                                                          37. What does the catering staff typically wear?

                                                                            This question helps you gauge if the catering staff's clothing will fit the theme and style of your wedding. Ask if the company has clothing that works for casual and formal events.

                                                                            38. Will you be working on other events during my wedding?

                                                                              Correale advises asking if your wedding will be the only event on their calendar that day. Being the only event means you'll get a more personalized service and experience.

                                                                              39. Who will oversee the wedding?

                                                                                The person you work with during the planning process should also be the same person who'll help you on the wedding day––it makes it easier to communicate since they've been involved since the beginning. If there will be a different person handling the wedding, meet with them and ensure they're briefed before the big day.

                                                                                40. Can leftover food be packaged for guests or donated?

                                                                                  A wedding can be wasteful if you let it. Ask if the food left at the end of the night can be put into to-go boxes for your guests or donated to a local shelter.

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