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Planning 101: Questions to Ask Caterers and Reception Facilities

101915-reception-01Before you start talking with caterers and reception sites, it’s a good to have an idea of what type of reception and meal you want: formal or informal? Dinner, luncheon, cocktails or brunch? Buffet or sit-down? What time of day?

Once you have those details in mind, spend some time talking with prospective caterers and reception sites. Here are some questions to keep in mind:

Caterer

  • How much experience do they have? How many weddings have they done?
  • What services do they offer (linens, dishes, alcohol, tables, etc.)?
  • Is there an additional charge for the staff’s services?
  • How do servers dress?
  • What is the ratio of servers to guests?
  • What equipment will need to be rented?
  • What is the cost per meal? How much for hors d’oeuvres?
  • Is there a cake-cutting fee? A bartending fee?
  • Are tips and taxes included in the rate?
  • Can you test the meal options? Is there a charge for this?
  • What is their signature dish?
  • Can they accommodate different diets?
  • Can they prepare children’s meals? What do those cost?
  • Is the food prepared on site or brought in already prepared?
  • If you’d like them to do so, can they use local or organic produce and meats?
  • Have they worked at your venue before?
  • How many weddings do they do in a day? A weekend?
  • When do they need the final guest count?
  • Ask for references.
  • What is the payment policy?

Reception site

  • What is the maximum number of guests allowed?
  • What is the site fee? What does that include?
  • Is there a cake-cutting fee? A bartending fee?
  • How much time is given for the reception?
  • Are there any restrictions: music, alcohol, decorations, moving furniture, etc.
  • Are tables, linens, place settings, or decorations available?
  • Does the fee include a dance floor?
  • Are kitchen facilities available for caterers?
  • Are outside caterers allowed?
  • What time can my vendors come to set up?
  • What is the payment policy?
  • Ask about parking availability and fees.
  • Is the facility handicap accessible?
  • Can I hold my ceremony here, too? What are the location options?
  • Is there an additional charge to hold the ceremony there?
  • Is there a dressing/changing area for the bride and bridesmaids?
  • What security services do you offer?
  • How many weddings does the facility host in a day? A weekend?
  • Do you recycle?
  • Do you have a day-of coordinator? Ask to meet that person before the wedding.