7 NOT-SO-OBVIOUS QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CATERER
01. Do you have experience catering weddings?
Duh, right? Seems obvious. But this question rarely gets asked, and often, gets assumed. So make sure you know if your caterer has catered weddings before, and more specifically, if they’ve catered weddings the same size (or bigger than) yours before. Weddings are different than any other type of event, and a little experience goes a long way.
Now, is it okay to go with a caterer who hasn’t catered a wedding before? Sure. Everyone has to start somewhere! But, it’s better to know that you're going to be their guinea pig and be okay with that, then to assume your caterer knows exactly what they’re doing, and learn otherwise the day of.
02. Can I taste your menu before I hire you?
The answer to this should be a resounding “of course!”, obvs. But we’re always surprised to learn just how many caterers ask you to commit before you get to taste the goods. Even a used car salesman will let you test drive that
lemon car before you buy it. Now, the tasting may be free, or it may not be, and that’s totally up to the caterer. The important thing is that it’s offered to you before you sign on the dotted line.
03. On my wedding day, will this food be prepared exactly the same way?
Ask this one at your tasting. And be wary of the awkward pause! If your caterer can’t immediately answer yes, note it. For caterers that prepare food on-site, this is usually a non-issue. But when food is prepared off-site and brought in, it may spend hours between their oven, and your plate. You could end up enjoying a fabulous, freshly-made meal at your tasting, and being served a mediocre, reheated one when it matters most.
04. What time will you arrive to set up?
Oye, the headaches you can avoid by asking this one. Some caterers that require minimal set up (see caterers who prepare food off-site, above) don’t technically need to arrive until the very last minute (and usually, last minute is smack dab in the middle of your ceremony.) Pair a last minute arrival with someone who doesn’t know exactly where or how to set up, and well, you can see how things can head south, quickly. To avoid running into any of this, determine a specific arrival time with your caterer ahead of time and designate an on-site contact for them to speak with should they run into any problems.
05. How will you present the food?
We eat with our eyes, so presentation is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-a-n-g. Will your caterer being using aluminum foil trays or stainless steel chafing dishes? Will those salads be passed in clear plastic bowls, or white porcelain ones? You’ve paid careful attention to every other detail of your big day, so don’t leave this one to chance. Ask your caterer for pictures of how they’ll present the food you've chosen for your menu - and determine if it's a good match.
06. What will you serve my guests with dietary restrictions?
This one’s important. More and more couples have guests that are gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan to accommodate. Not only do you want to know if your caterer has an option to serve these guests, you want to know how these options taste. Aunt Jane shouldn't have a lesser-than meal simply because she’s allergic to wheat.
07. Can I take a tour of your kitchen?
The moment of truth! After this one, you'll either be met with an entertained look of surprise, or, a look of downright horror. Whatevs. If your caterer is going to be feeding your nearest and dearest, you're entitled to see where they’ll be preparing everything. A peek into the kitchen will give you some valuable insight into how the operation is run. Look for a kitchen that’s clean, organized, and humming like a well-oiled machine. If it's is dirty, unorganized, and chaotic, you can bet that'll bleed over into your event. Don’t let it!