Questions To Ask Your Destination Wedding Caterer

Buffet ready and guests waitingSelecting the caterer is one of the most important decisions you’re going to make when planning your destination wedding.

Making the wrong decision or taking shortcuts will have disastrous consequences.

The last thing you want is for everyone to remember your wedding as the one that had the worst food.

In order to ensure they select the right caterer for your wedding, we have put together a list of questions that you should ask. Feel free to print this list and take it with you.

Menu questions

  • What are the menu options that will fit my budget? Do you have any recommended menu packages?
  • What is included in the price? Most caterers price per head and that includes food and basic drinks. You may have to pay extra for food carving, cake cutting among other fees. Make sure to ask for a list of fees that are standard for the caterer.
  • Do you specialize in anything that a specific to this destination? For example, if you were getting married in Barbados, your caterer may specialize in his own version of a rum cake.
  • Do you offer menu tastings? Can I select what you have on the menu tasting?
  • Can you offer vegetarian, kosher, gluten free, and other special needs?
  • Do you offer a champagne toast? Is it included or do you have to pay extra?
  • Can I customize some of the food on the menu with my own recipes?
  • Do you provide a wedding cake? If so, would you box the cake for guests to take home? Would you box the top-tier for freezing?
  • It’s a requirement for minimum a maximum number of people that you can serve?
  • Will you provide a discounted price for vendors like photographers, videographers, officiant’s among others?
  • Are you able to provide liquor? Do you have a list of the kinds of liquor you provide and the cost per drink and per bottle? Do you buy back unopened bottles?
  • Do you have any photos of how food was arranged at another wedding? The plate settings to your liking? Does the food look appetizing?
  • How do you handle leftovers? Will they pack them so you can distribute among your guests?

Decorations questions

  • What types of linen, chairs, chair covers, and tables are included?
  • Can you offer custom colors for linen and napkins that match the colors of my wedding? If so, is there an additional cost?
  • Do you offer different options for silverware and China?
  • Do you provide any decorations for weddings? Some caterers that specialize in destination weddings will provide decorations for a small fee. In many cases if the decorations are up to snuff, then consider spending the extra money.
  • Will you put out place cards and favors? Will you place centerpieces?
  • Will you set up the seating chart?
  • Do you provide any accent lighting as part of the decorations?

Cost Questions

  • Do you have a list of prices for the different kind of menus you offer? Are taxes and gratuity included in that number?
  • What costs are not included on your menu pricing that you normally end up charging for?
  • How much is the tax and gratuity as a percentage?
  • Do you charge any additional service fees on top of the tax gratuity?
  • Do you charge any corkage fees or cake cutting fees for bringing in my own wedding cake? Cake cutting prices can be three dollars per slice served and anywhere from $10-$15 per bottle of alcohol. These are fees replace the lost profit that the caterer would have made if you had purchased deliver and keep them.
  • Based on my wedding needs, what other fees do you anticipate will be in my bill? When the matter of fees comes up, try to negotiate them out as much as possible. Fees are paid profit centers for caterers so you may face some resistance initially.

Equipment/Set up questions

  • Do you have staff that can set up/break down tables, linen, and chairs? If so, how much do you charge or is that included?
  • Do you rent tables, chairs, linens, silverware salt-and-pepper shakers, along with other items I may need? Can I see them?
  • If you don’t provide tables and chairs, then can you recommend a vendor that you work with who can supply the?
  • How much time we need to set up and break down?

Staffing questions

  • Who will be my main point of contact at the wedding? Is it going to be you?
  • Will the person I work with in planning the details be the same person that shows up at the wedding to help ensure everything goes smoothly?
  • Will you provide wait staff? Based on the size of my wedding, how many would you recommend?
  • What does your wait staff wear at weddings?
  • Do you provide bartenders? If so, how many will I need?

Contract questions

  • What kind of deposit do you require to hold the date?
  • What will be the payment schedule?
  • Is a deposit refundable?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • When does the actual menu need to be finalized?
  • What will you need the file number of guests?
  • Do you accept credit cards?

Communications questions

  • How can I get in touch with you? Your caterer may be in a different country than you so its always good to have a correct telephone number and email address right from the start
  • Do you have reliable internet access? How often do you check emails?

Miscellaneous questions

  • How long have you been in business? You should be looking for someone who has been catering for a living for at least five years. That is enough time for them to have built up a reputation, and a following from other vendors. Anything less would make us very nervous.
  • What is the maximum number weddings you do on any given weekend? Is [insert your wedding month] busy for you?
  • Can you provide referrals from your last two or three weddings?

The questions above are designed to provide you the information so you compare offers from different caterers. Use the answers to these questions to narrow your list of potential caterers to three or four. Schedule a menu tasting at each one during your site visit to the destination.

Tip: Consider getting caterer recommendations from a local destination wedding planner. You don’t have to hire them for the entire wedding or even for an entire day. Many wedding planners are available for hourly consultations for a few hundred dollars. Schedule one so they can share a list of caterers that are reliable, and trustworthy. It will save you a bundle of time.

What should you read next?

If you’re going to be dealing with wedding vendors, then you should bone up on your negotiation skills. Read “Negotiating With Vendors For A Destination Wedding? Here Are 10 Tips”

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