20 questions to ask wedding caterers

Most of these questions I have gotten from my incredibly helpful wedding book, in conjunction with advice from TheKnot.com. A couple of these questions are customized to our wedding specifically (example: we have someone in mind for the cake, so we are going to ask about the possibility of outsourcing that), but for the most part this is a good, general list to go off of.

Questions to ask a wedding caterer you’re considering:

1) How many events do you typically book in one day?  Is it possible there would be another event on the day of our wedding?

2) Do you specialize in certain types of food and/or do you go by what food is in season?

3) What would a food tasting entail, and do you charge for that?

4) Would you recommend a sit-down dinner or a buffet?  Are there pricing differences?  Can you tell us about the barbecue option?

5) Do you charge for vendor meals/how do people normally handle that?

6) What is the alcohol situation like/what are our options?

7) Do you have optional upgrades for your packages, and what would they entail?  Are there presentation upgrades?

8) Do we have the option of using someone else for the cake, if we pay a cake cutting fee to you?

9) Is there a delivery charge, set up and clean up fee, etc?  Is that included in the overall price?

10) How much time do you require usually for setting up and breaking down?

11) If the wedding runs longer than anticipated, do you charge an overtime fee?  If so, what is it?

12) Do you provide china, flatware, linens, etc?  If so, are there options with these?  Are they included in the price?  Do we need insurance in case something breaks?

13) Is there anything that you don’t provide that we would have to?  Do you typically provide any of the decorations or decor?

14) How much is the additional charge for service, gratuities, and taxes?

15) How much of a deposit is required, and when is the final balance due?  Is there a payment policy or schedule?

16) What is your cancellation policy?

17) When does the final guest count have to be in?

18) What is the ratio of guests to waiters/bartenders?

19) How will the waitstaff be attired?

20) Our wedding isn’t for over a year – if we book with you, are your prices final, or are they subject to change between now and the wedding?  If they are subject to change, is it by a certain percentage?