Your guide to wedding catering

We've helped 251 customers hire a wedding caterer in the past year.

Planning checklist

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8–10 months ahead: Start planning
  • Decide what type of meal you want to serve at your reception.
  • If you are on a budget, brunch, lunch or hors d'oeuvres are all less expensive options than a three-course meal.
  • Research wedding caterers and find out if the food they provide works with your wedding theme and environment.
  • Ask if caterers accommodate food allergies and ensure that they have plenty of options to satisfy your wedding guests.
  • If you are responsible for your reception's alcohol, find out if the caterer can provide it or if you need separate bartenders.
8 months ahead: Interview and book
  • Find out each caterer's food presentation style by looking at pictures.
  • Schedule tastings with several caterers before making a final choice.
  • Share your budget and ask about specific charges. Do they charge per waiter, and if so, how many do they recommend?
  • Make sure that the caterer you choose is licensed and insured.
6 months ahead: Hire
  • Secure a signed contract from your caterer. Make sure it spells out everything they are providing, and dates and times of service.
  • Make sure the contract addresses a cancellation policy and emergency situations.
4-5 months ahead: Finalize details
  • Provide your caterer with as much information as you can, including photos of the reception space and kitchen facilities.
  • Provide a rough estimate of adults and children attending.
  • Finalize your menu and schedule tastings.
  • Make sure that your caterer, wedding planner and venue manager are all in contact with one another.
2 months ahead: Check details
  • Make any last-minute adjustments to your menu before your invitations go out.
  • Confirm with the venue that there is a plan in place for the wedding date and the caterer has access to the venue for setup.
1–3 weeks ahead: Provide info
  • Give your caterer a final head count of expected guests so the company can plan to prepare the correct amount of food.
2–3 days ahead: Reconfirm
  • Make sure your caterer is on track with food preparation and note any last guest number changes.
1 day ahead: Check on delivery
  • Ensure your caterer has access to the venue to start setting up supplies and cooking equipment if needed.
  • Ensure plans are in place for venue cleanup.
The day of: Pay
  • Your caterer may require you to make your final payment once services have been rendered. Be prepared.

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