10 questions to ask your caterers

Events Manager Karin Adams from The Curradine Barns on getting the most out of your venue's caterers

Paul Willets Photography

1 What’s included in your prices?
This is absolutely vital when comparing companies as all caterers quote differently. If they provide a package, check that it includes staff, crockery, cutlery, glassware, linen and any kitchen equipment. Clarify any costs associated with drinks service before, during and after your meal as these can vary. Finally, is VAT included?

2 Will you be catering for other weddings that day?
If you’ve booked an exclusive use wedding venue, the answer had better be none! If not, don’t worry unduly if the company is busy, after all that is likely to be a sign of a popular and successful operation. However, check they can cope with the workload and insist they assign you a dedicated events manager as soon as you book.

3 Can I see your menus?
It’s crucial to understand the heart and soul of what it is each caterer specialises in. A superb modern British cuisine team are unlikely to be the best choice if it’s Pan-Asian fare you’re looking for, so make sure the company you choose cook brilliant food they understand.

4 Can I have some input into menu design?
Your own thoughts and ideas are key, and an innovative Head Chef will welcome your input and help steer you in the right direction. They’ll also be happy to share his or her experience with you about what works.
5 Do you have photos?
Ask for a range of their images to get an impression of how the food is presented. Don’t get too hung up on specific dishes as you’d be better off obtaining an overall impression; crucially, ask to see photos of the team in action. Make sure their staff look smart, confident and cheerful.

6 What’s your dress code?
You may have viewed the photos but nevertheless double-check that the company has firm rules on uniform. You’d do well to review their formal dress policy to ensure that your guests are as impressed with the service on your big day as they are with the food on offer.

7 Can we taste the food?
Any caterer worth their salt will want you to sample their food. However, it’s unlikely you’ll get a particularly accurate indication by having a specific meal cooked for just two of you. Ask if they have exhibition days where you can sit in the same (or similar) dining space with lots of others. You need to observe their team at work every bit as much as tasting the food.

8 Who will look after me?
Your wedding meal is much more than service on the day, particularly as so many of your other suppliers will need to dovetail with the arrangements you make. Ideally you’ll require an experienced member of the team to guide you, not just to streamline the planning process, but to help you make the best value decisions.

9 What about providing drinks?
Most caterers provide drinks and it will be worth checking what they have on offer. In some instances you may be able to provide your own for them to serve. If so, check their corkage policy.

10 How much support is included on the day?
You’ll need a Front of House manager and team to execute your plans, and to cope with any little surprises! Meet them beforehand and tell them how much help you’ll need in liaising with your best man and ushers.

Let us know your top questions to ask caterers in our comments section below

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