Wedding Catering Checklist: Things to Do

Here is a step-by-step to-do checklist to help you cover all the details of wedding catering!

  1. Set a budget.
  2. Begin your search early! Start interviewing caterers 6-9 months in advance.
  3. Ask for references, preview of portfolio, and experience with wedding catering.
  4. Confirm caterer’s availability on your wedding day.
  5. Book the caterer and pay the deposit. Make a written contract that covers all of your agreements.
  6. Decide on the type of reception you want: a cocktail reception, formal evening dinner, brunch or lunch wedding, afternoon tea, etc.
  7. Choose between a self-serve buffet or served sit-down dinner.
  8. Ask to review menu examples with prices.
  9. Decide on menu items: 
Cocktail hour: bar and hors d’oeuvres. 
Main reception include: appetizer, salad, soup, entrée, cake, other desserts, bar and beverages, champagne toast, vegetarian selection, kids menu.
  10. Choose a menu and schedule a tasting of those menu items. You should be able to tweak what items you serve according to your personal taste preferences.
  11. Ask caterer if any regulations apply for self-supplied food, drinks, desserts, and wedding cake.
  12. Check if caterer provides cake knife and stand.
  13. Check if caterer provides bar service.
  14. Check is there is a minimum charge for wedding catering.
  15. Check if total cost includes fees for setup and cleanup.
  16. Check if total cost includes taxes and gratuities.
  17. Discuss which pieces of equipment are included and not: plates, linens, utensils, food warmers, etc.
  18. Check if caterer provides printed menus at served dinner or food descriptions at buffet.
  19. Clarify beginning and end times for catering services.
  20. Set a deadline for menu selection and final head count of wedding guests.
  21. Clarify deposit, remaining balance with due date, insurance, guarantee, refund and cancellation terms and policies.
  22. Finalize the menu and service details with your caterer.
  23. If not included in the catering contract, order alcohol: wine, liquor, champagne. Discuss with your caterer how the alcohol should be transported to the wedding.
  24. Create a Final Timeline of Events on the wedding day and send a copy to the caterer.
  25. Give a final headcount to the caterer a week prior to the wedding date. Confirm a point of contact, instructions for setup, and menu items.

Featured Cover Image: Esther Sun Photography

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