(Closed) Catering tips!

posted 6 years ago in Food
Post # 2
620 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Once you contact a caterer, often they will send you a menu or ask what you are interested in and for how many people. Often they will provide the cost per item per plate or have set prices for the qty of people.

They might also add in their cost for linens & place settings. Compare that quote to another party rental company as that might be less expensive.

Price per plate can vary drastically…from $10-12/plate to $30-40/plate. Be prepared!

Post # 3
4239 posts
Honey bee

Yup, I actually was just speaking with my caterer because I didn’t realize they don’t provide dishes- if my venue doesnt have any, it’s going to be $4/person, eek! If you contact people they will tell you their prices, menus and what’s included, then you can go from there.

Post # 4
7892 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

What kind of food are you envisioning for your wedding? We had a particular food in mind, so our options narrowed down themselves. Ask to see what foods they have done in the past, and clarify all fees including and in addition to the food. 

Post # 5
322 posts
Helper bee

Ask to see their menus and from there, send them a detailed list of items you would like them to provide, the budget you are working with, and the number of guests you are anticipating. Don’t forget to include china, linens, barware, etc. 

Most caterers I’ve worked with do not have a detailed pricing menu. However, if you say you want an open bar with a plated meal for XX guests for $XX they can then give you suggestions to fit your budget.

Post # 6
1294 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

Some questions to ask:

1. Are linens included? IF so, WHAT linens? Tablecloth, napkins, chaircover (if needed) and what colrs are in the basic package.

2. Is booze incluced in you want it? Or is that covered by your venue? Champange toast? Wine at dinner? Glasses to servie it in?

3. Are plates and silverware included?

4. Is a cake included? IS there are cutting fee?

The venue we went with seemed expensive, but it included 3 courses, linese for all tables and cocaktail hour in the colors we wanted, open bar for 4 hours plus wine with dinner and a champange toast. It also included a cake, but their bakery could not do vegan & gluten free, so we got a refund which will pay for our outside baker. 

You will have to do a lot of comparing, and may have to find linen vendnors as well. 

Good Luck and hope this helps!


Post # 7
604 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

View original reply
mrspereira:  Don’t be worried about contacting them, having your choice of caterer is actually kind of a blessing.

We had to pick ours for our Oct 2015 wedding and just booked ours last month. Some bees above provided great questions to ask.

Be sure to ask if the quote includes:

– Gratuity

– Staffing

and any extra stuff they usually provide. For us, they will set up an ice water/lemonade station for guests free of cost w/ our per-plate order.

While caterers will often send you their “wedding packages”, don’t be afraid to go completely off-book and ask for different things or negotiate a little (do you really need salad AND soup with apps? Or just one or neither?). Our caterer actually sat us down with the chef and the 4 of us noodled up a bunch of items we wanted to try (most of it not on the menu) and we did a tasting of all of it and picked the things we adored. This you could potentially do with a smaller caterer where the very established “big box” type ones may be less hesitant to stray from the list of things they make.

Be sure to ask how they accommodate food allergies/vegetarians, etc… (do they charge you more? Is a vegetarian cost built in?).

Also it’s good to ask how (and if!) they will handle your cake/desserts. If you have a wedding cake from a bakery, someone still needs to cut the darn thing and it’s usually the caterer or venue staff (and there is usually a per-plate fee). So ask about that too!

Don’t be afraid to ask to try the food before booking. This was hugely important for us.

Post # 8
7352 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

View original reply
mrspereira:  The first step is to ask to see some sample menus/prices, as well as what’s included. For some caterers that will be just food/staff, for others it might include linens and tablewear or alcohol. Most all of them will include a gratuity, it’s just a matter of finding out how much it is. Once you’ve got an idea of what they can do and for what price, you move on to finalizing a menu that fits within your budget.

I think one of the most important things to remember, is to manage your expectations with pricing. Catering isn’t cheap, even with a simple menu – because you aren’t just paying for food. You’re paying for someone to handle managing the details of your event, prepping the food, as well as the service during your reception. People get a lot of sticker shock when it comes to catering prices.

Where I live, there are really only 3-4 venues that have in-house catering. For most weddings you’re bringing everything in yourself – catering, cake, linens, etc. Ask about their bar services, and what’s included in that. Our caterer let us provide our own alcohol (we did buy our kegs through them), and their bartenders served it. We paid them for the cost of bartenders.

Most catering companines are going to have a catering packet they’ll give you, which has most of their info in it as well as sample menues and the kinds of foods they offer. Read what they send and then follow up with questions you might have. It sounds like such a no-brainer, but as a wedding vendor myself (not caterer) one of the biggest frustraitions is sending a prospective client info and they come back with a ton of questions that are all answered in the packet.

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