10 Questions You Should Ask A Wedding Caterer Before Hiring Them For Your Special Day

Before saying I do, at the top of most bride’s to do list is to secure the perfect venue, wedding caterer, dress and photographer. While these are all extremely important for the couple, for the guests, the food, drinks and service are key.

No really, the catering could make all the difference for your guests. Just think about it…What do you remember from the last wedding you attended? Was it the gorgeous variety of food, or were you left hungry and wanting more? Were the staff accessible or did you wait all night to get a drink?

These are the elements that will determine how successful your night is, and after all, hungry guests probably aren’t going to have the energy to dance.

Despite not always being the top priority, the food and drink expenses are likely to consume a large portion of the wedding budget, so it is important that you are happy with your selection.

The average price spent on wedding catering nationwide is about $100 per guest for food (excluding staff), with catering costing couples an average of about $10,000.  A state-by-state glimpse further shows that Victorians are splashing even more cash with an average of $12,330 spent on food for the special day.

This may sound like a lot at first but let’s break down what this lump sum could entail:

  • Food
  • Staff – Chefs, supervisor & waiters
  • Equipment – Kitchen equipment, cutlery, crockery, linen, napkins etc.
  • Other – Cake cutting, set up and pack down etc.

Furthermore, the style of dining that you choose will also affect the cost and overall look and feel of your wedding. Below are some catering styles to consider:

  • Finger Food/Cocktail Style – A budget friendly option that allows optimal mingling between guests.
  • Sit Down – The most formal and popular style, with 54% of couples choosing sit down for their wedding.
  • Sharing Style – A really fun and interactive way of dining whereby food is served on large share plates and guests serve themselves.
  • Other – Grazing tables and food stations are amongst the rising trends in wedding catering and are a great addition to a cocktail or sit down style wedding.

Click here for more information on catering styles.

Beverage service is another thing that will need to be considered. There are a number of different options available to suit whatever your budget may be, such as;

  • Beverage packages
  • Beverages charged on consumption
  • Open bar
  • Beverage service option – Allowing you to supply your own beverages
  • Cocktail and mocktail service

To help you prepare for your wedding and ensure that you get bang for your buck, we have prepared a list of 10 questions you should be asking before you put down a deposit and book a caterer.

1. What level of experience & reputation do they have?

Amongst the vows, speeches, hair & makeup and not tripping down the aisle, the last thing a bride needs to be stressing about is the catering. This is why it is absolutely essential to hire a trusted catering company.

Choosing an experienced and reputable catering company will help ensure your day is well organised and that they will be able to put on a flawless evening for you and your guests.

Things to consider:

  • How long has the caterer been in business for?
  • What wedding experience does the caterer have?
  • Ask family and friends for recommendations.
  • Look for client feedback and testimonials on their website and social media platforms.
  • Has the caterer worked at the venue you are interested in?

2. How will staff be allocated for your wedding?

The amount of staff allocated to work an event plays a crucial part in the level of service you and your guests receive. A simple guide to follow when it comes to food and beverage service is having one staff member for every 20 – 25 guests depending on the catering style.

Things to consider:

  • Will an experienced supervisor or manager coordinate your event?
  • Does the caterer provide bar service and/or table service?
  • Are staff included in the per person fee or is this calculated separately?
  • How many staff are included?

3. Can they provide beverage service as well?

An all-inclusive, one-stop-shop for food and beverage service will guarantee that the night runs smoothly, by ensuring that staff are familiar with each other’s processes and expectations of how the night should unfold.

Things to consider:

  • Can the caterer supply beverages, liquor license, equipment, refrigeration and beverage staff?
  • Can they supply staff and equipment to serve your beverages?
  • Can they provide cocktails and/or spirits?

4. Can they customise a package to suit your specific needs and requirements?

Many people feel it is important that a couple’s menu reflects their personalities and their wedding theme.

If you are after something specific, make sure your caterer will work with you to put your own unique touch to the menu.

This may include:

  • A special dish reflecting your tastes or favourite foods
  • Additional canapes
  • Post ceremony grazing table
  • Sharing styles
  • A dessert table
  • Late night snack option

5. Can they accommodate special requests such as dietary requirements, menu changes and kid’s meals?

Choosing a caterer is not only about choosing the one who makes the most delicious food, but the one who can also be flexible enough to cater for all. The dining experience is something you share with guests and something you want to be special for everyone.

As we wrote in our previous blog, catering for dietary requirements is crucial to a successful event. Whether it be allergies, customs or preferences, it is the host’s duty to ensure special dietary requests are accommodated for.

With 43% of couples now serving gluten free it has become increasingly easier to customise menus for intolerant or coeliac guests.

Most caterers will require you to confirm any special dietary requirements beforehand, so they can prepare and accommodate this accordingly.

Things to consider:

  • Do they cater for dietary requirements?
  • When do dietary requirements need to be confirmed?
  • Can they make changes to their menu items?
  • Do they offer kid’s meals, how will these be priced and what is included?
  • Do they offer crew meals for your entertainment and photographer, how will these be priced and what is included?

6. Are there any additional charges that may apply?

Weddings can be costly, especially if you incur surprise fees. One easy way to combat extra costs is to make sure you fully understand what is and isn’t included.

Here is a list of potential additional charges to be aware of, that you may need to discuss with your caterer.

  • Alternating service fees – Ask how many dishes are served per course and if there is a fee to serve 2 dishes on an alternating basis.
  • Tea and coffee services
  • Wedding cake cutting fees
  • Staffing fees
  • Set up and pack down fees
  • Kitchen equipment hire
  • Table menus
  • Linen and napkins hire
  • Cutlery and crockery hire
  • Set up fees for place cards and wedding bonbonniere
  • Beverage packages or beverage service fees
  • Beverage equipment hire
  • Beverage time extension fees
  • Venue hire fees
  • Travel fees
  • Surcharges for public holidays, weekends or credit card payments

7. Can you sample their catering?

It is important to sample some of the menu items to ensure that the dishes taste as fantastic as they look.

Doing a tasting beforehand ensures no surprises on the night, however these may come at a cost, so don’t forget to ask. This is also the perfect time to try pairing your food with different wines – after all who doesn’t love a boozy lunch.

Things to consider:

  • How much will it cost for a menu tasting?
  • How many people can attend?
  • When can this be done?

8. What terms and conditions apply for weddings?

Before getting whisked away by the idea of the perfect wedding, you need to ask for a copy of the catering company’s terms and conditions prior to booking.

Things to consider:

  • What is the minimum spend that applies?
  • When final payment and numbers are due?
  • Make sure they have public liability

9. What happens if Government restrictions change due to Covid-19?

I can’t believe we almost went a whole blog post without mentioning the elephant in the room…Covid-19.

Make sure you discuss what terms and conditions apply in relation to Covid-19 restrictions before you lock in any final decisions.

  • What happens if Government directive only allows 50 people and I have 100 people on my guest list? Do I have to meet the minimum spend?
  • Is my date and deposit transferable?

10. How much deposit is required?

When you think you have found the one, and by that we mean caterer, you will need to lock them in before they book out.

Things to consider:

  • How much is the required deposit? Between 10% – 20% is a reasonable amount to ensure your date is saved.
  • When is it due?
  • What is their refund policy?

And with all that ensured, you are now on the right path to a memorable wedding.

At Lady & the Fox, we offer a variety of options for wedding catering and are here to help you make your wedding day the one that you have always dreamt of!

Please contact us to discuss your catering plans for your big day.