Party Planning Tips

Questions To Ask Your Caterer

Congratulations! You’re getting married, planning a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, planning a Quinceanos, hosting a holiday party, or having some other very special event. Here are a few tips that I’ve collected over the years when planning our family parties.

After you’ve set your date, finding a place to hold your reception, and speaking to a caterer is one of the very first things you should do. Many popular hotels and reception halls are booked well over a year in advance. Before you meet your caterer, you should have a list of questions prepared. Below is a guide to help you get started:

1) What are the menu selections?

2) Does wine come with the menu?

3) Can we schedule a tasting? How soon before the event will the tasting take place?

4) Is there a minimum that has to be spent?

5) What is your cancellation policy?

6) What is your payment schedule?

7) How many appetizers do you prepare per guest? What is your appetizer selection?

8) How many servers walk around to serve the appetizers?

9) Where will the cocktail hour be held? Will the bar remain open after the meal is served? Is there a fee for that?

10) How many people can fit at each table?

11) Is there a cake cutting fee? Do you provide the wedding cake?

12) Is the gratuity added on the bill? What additional fees are added on the bill? Is the gratuity amount subject to increase before the date of the event?

13) When do you need the final guest headcount?

14) Do you provide extra tables for gifts, guest name tags and the guest sign in book?

15) Do you provide all the napkins, tablecloths, tables, chairs, plates, silverware and glasses?

16) What color linens do you provide?

17) What styles do you fold the napkins in?

18) What times do you recommend for serving the meal? What is a typical reception like? How does it flow?

19) Do you serve salads pre-set on the plate or are they served after guests are seated?

20) When do our meal selections have to be complete?

21) Can you handle additional meals such as a brunch the next morning for out of town guests? What is your brunch menu?

22) How many people can fit in the banquet hall?

23) Can you mail us a contract? When does it have to be signed and returned? What deposit do we have to put down to hold our date?

24) Can you provide vegetarian or kosher meals if they are needed? Can you handle other special dietary requests?

25) If you are serving different entrees, how does the caterer determine which guest gets which entree?

26) Do you have a kids menu? Can you serve smoothies for the kids?

27) If you plan to have different stations like a pasta station or a prime rib station, is there a serving fee per station?

28) Are your evening prices more than your daytime prices?

29) Who will be in charge of my party and be my point of contact?

30) Do you have a business card or e-mail address? What is the best way to reach you for additional questions?

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