Questions to Ask Your Caterer When Planning Your Event

No two ways about it — planning any type of event can be a difficult and challenging task, especially when you’re in charge of the most important part: the food! Here are some questions to keep in mind whenever you’re vetting a catering company for an upcoming event:

Basic Information

  • Will you provide an onsite coordinator who will manage entire event from start to finish? Or will you hand-off my event to a banquet captain that will have to come to me if there are questions?
  • Have your preferred event date in mind but also be flexible with a range or alternate dates – many caterers offer reduced pricing for events held on days other than Saturday or Sunday.
  • How many event do you cater per year? How long have you been in business?

  • Have you done events at my location? Note:If you haven’t chosen your venue yet, we can help!
  • Are you licensed by the state of Virginia/DC/Maryland? Are you licensed to serve alcohol?
  • Will I need any permits for my event? If so, will you handle obtaining them?
  • Can you assist with other aspects of the event planning like selecting other vendors, event design (i.e. specialty lighting, décor, theme, etc.)?

The Food

  • Given my budget, guest count and event style, what food choices would you recommend? Do you specialize in certain cuisines?
  • Do we have to work off a preset menu or can you create a custom menu for our event? If I have a special dish I’d like served, would you accommodate that?
  • Do you use all fresh produce, meat, fish, etc.? Can you source organic or sustainably farmed ingredients?
  • How do you accommodate dietary restrictions, such as kosher, vegan, etc.?
  • Are you able to create theme menus?

Depending on the style of your event, the caterer can serve a formal, plated meal or a casual buffet service.

  • What’s the difference in cost between tray passed hors d’oeuvres and stations? How many actual hors d’oeuvres per person will you serve?
  • What’s the price difference between a buffet and a sit-down, plated meal?
  • Do you hold plated meals in a warming unit or plate to order?
  • What do you charge for children’s meals?
  • What do you charge for vendor meals?

Start planning your event today!

  • Do you make wedding cakes? If so, is this included in the per-person meal price?
  • Can we do a dessert display instead of a cake?
  • If we provide our own cake, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?
  • Do you do food tastings and is there an extra charge for this? Note: Be aware that anyone can create a great meal for one or two people. It’s the ability to feed an entire gathering that really matters. So, when discussing your menu and a tasting, make sure so discuss where the food will be prepared, how it will be transported, is the food at my tasting going to be prepared and presented in similar fashion? You want your caterer to recreate the banquet experience as closely as possible in order to understand and “taste” what you will be getting the day of your event.