Do you run a catering business and you want to make your services top notch? If YES, here are 20 important questions to ask clients before a wedding event. Making money as a caterer is all about ensuring that your clients are satisfied whenever they contract you to cater their events.

The truth is that once you are able to meet or surpass the expectations of your clients, you are likely going to get repeat businesses and, in most cases, you will also get referrals. You will quite agree that word of mouth advertisement from satisfied clients will always go a long way in increasing your revenue and also promoting your brand.

So, the bottom line is that whenever you secure any catering contract for an event, you have to make sure that you clarify all that is needed to be clarified from your clients before signing the contract and going to work. Anybody that asks loads of questions hardly derails in pursuit of a goal.

Hence, if your intention is to meet or surpass the expectations of your clients as a caterer, then one of the key things that you should do is to ask them loads of questions to clarify any grey areas. As a professional caterer, you would have been trained on how to engage your clients in such a way that they will be able to answer any question you ask them as regards the event or any related topic that will help you deliver a fantastic catering job.

Now let us quickly consider the 20 catering questions to ask your clients when they contract you to handle their wedding;

20 Important Catering Questions to Ask Clients Before a Wedding Event

1. What is Your Budget?

Once a client engages you as a caterer to help you handle the catering aspect of their wedding, the first question you are to ask the client is to know the budget they have in mind for the wedding. If you are able to get an idea of how much the client is budgeting for the wedding, it will give you an idea on what and what you should suggest to them or to even know whether you should go on with the job.

If from the budget you are not going to make profit, then there is no need going ahead with the contract. In essence, asking for the budget for catering for the wedding is non-negotiable.

2. The Number of Guests that Will Be Attending the Wedding

Another key question that you are expected to ask your client is the number of guests that he or she will be expecting to attend the wedding. Trust me, no caterer picks up a catering job without asking this key question. If you are able to get the number of guests that will be attending the wedding you are catering, it will help you accurately bill the client and as well effectively plan for the wedding.

For example, if you are catering for 500 wedding guests you will be able to arrange required number of servers and also you will be able to bring the required number of plates and cutleries to the venue.

3. What Caliber of Guests Will be Attending the Wedding?

In order to effectively plan when catering a wedding, you ought to know the caliber of clients that will be attending the event. Asking your client this question is very important because with the answer, you will be able to make suggestions that will help you effectively meet the needs of the guests.

For example, if the majority of guests attending the wedding are vegetarians, it will help you to suggest different types of veg inspired delicacies to the client. So also, if the client is expecting people from let’s say China, Japan or generally people from other parts of the world, it will help you to suggest foods that will perfectly fit into the culture of the guests.

4. What Date, Time and Venue Do You Have In Mind?

Another key question that you are expected to ask your client when they contract the catering of their wedding to you is the date, time and venue of the wedding. This question is important because it will give you an idea of how to setup the serving area, when to start transporting the cooked foods to the venue and of course to know if you can accommodate another client same day.

5. Will Some Cooking Be Done at The Venue?

No doubt, there are wedding ceremonies where caterers are meant to carry out the preparation of some meals at the venue of the wedding hence it will not be out of place to ask the client if you will be cooking/preparing some of the food at the venue of the wedding event.

For example, if part of the meals for the wedding is barbecue, then you should make plans to move your barbecue making equipment to the venue. Asking this question will indeed help you charge the client and also help you know what you are up against.

6. What Types of Food Are You Looking At?

The reason why you are contracted in the first place is to cook food hence the questions you should be asking someone who is planning a wedding event is the types of food that the client will like to serve at the wedding ceremony.

Asking this question will help you know the appropriate amount to charge for the job, the market to go to purchase the ingredients and also the logistics involved in preparing the different types of meals. For example, if the bulk of the food to be served are seafood and intercontinental dishes, the client should be ready to pay more.

7. What Type of Protein are They Looking At?

Aside from the types of food that will be served at the wedding ceremony, another key question you should ask a client is the types of protein they want served at the wedding. Trust me, there are people who don’t eat meat but are comfortable getting their protein from egg, fish or any other seafood.

So also, there are people who have a specific type of meat they eat. Some eat goat or lamb meat, but don’t eat cow, some are cool with pork, while some settle for only chicken. So, if indeed you want to effectively bill your client, then you must ensure that you know the types of protein they want served at the wedding.

8. What Type of Appetizers Would They Want Served at Their Wedding?

Hosts often serve appetizers to their guests as they wait for the larger meal. Appetizers both keep the guests from getting too hungry as they wait and serve as a preview for the meal to come. As hosts plan the food they want to serve, they must choose from several types (or classifications) of appetizers.

Interestingly, there are nine main classifications of appetizers: canapes, chips and dip, cocktails, finger foods, fruits and vegetables, hors d’oeuvres, Sticky Baked Chicken Wings, and Crab Cakes with Horseradish Cream et al. So, your question will not be complete if you don’t know the type of appetizers to serve.

9. What Type of Desserts Do They Want?

Another important question that you should ask a client is the type of dessert they want served at their wedding event. Dessert is a course that concludes a meal. The course usually consists of sweet foods, such as confections, and possibly a beverage such as dessert wine or liqueur; however, in the United States it may include coffee, cheeses, nuts, or other savory items regarded as a separate course elsewhere.

The term dessert can apply to many confections, such as biscuits, cakes, cookies, custards, gelatins, ice creams, pastries, pies, puddings, sweet soups, and tarts. Fruit is also commonly found in dessert courses because of its naturally occurring sweetness. Please note that in some parts of the world, such as much of central and western Africa, and most parts of China and India, there is no tradition of a dessert course to conclude a meal.

10. Would They Want You to Serve or Just Cook for the Event?

In the bid to cut cost for catering, some clients would usually just allow a caterer to cook and deliver the foods without serving the food to guests because they already have people who will serve at the event or perhaps the event is a buffet and guests are meant to serve themselves.

So, it will not be out of place to ask the client if the contract is restricted to only cooking the foods for the wedding ceremony or if the contract covers both cooking and serving the guests. With that, you will be able to properly bill the client.

11. Will There Be Special Request?

Another question that you should not fail to ask the client who wants you to cater for their wedding event is to ask if there will be special requests such as gluten-free, kosher, vegetarian and children’s meals? This question is very important because if the client will be expecting children, then you are expected to prepare special meals for the children or if diabetic guests will be attending the wedding ceremony so that you can prepare meals suitable for them.

12. How Many Choices Are They Looking to Offer Their Guests for Meals?

In some weddings, clients are billed per plate and per head, which is why it is important to ask to know if guests attending the wedding will have the option of eating more than one type of meal.

This is important because if guests are going to be eating more than one type of meal, you will not only prepare for the number of people attending the wedding but you will prepare not based on the number but based in the number of meals per guest and that will inform the amount you will charge for your services.

13. Would The Want You To Create a Themed Food Menu?

Some clients usually want something beyond normal when they want to plan a wedding ceremony and some of the things that are more than normal is preparing themed food menu. No doubt, creating a themed food menu for a wedding ceremony comes with a premium price, but trust me, there are clients that are ready to pay for it. So, part of the questions you should ask a client who wants you to cater for their wedding is if they would want you to create themed food menu for them.

14. Will They Be Arranging for Tasting?

Another question that you should ask a client that hire your services to cater their wedding is if they will be making arrangement for special tasters to taste the food before serving the guests. Asking this question will help you know what you will be expecting and how to prepare for it.

  1. Ask to Know if You Are Going to Be Providing Beverages and Alcohol

It is normal for standard caterers with Liquor License to also take charge of supplying and serving beverages and alcohol in any event they are catering. Of course, it is going to attract more money. So, part of the questions you should ask is if they want you to be in charge of the beverages that will be served at the wedding.

  1. How Do They Intend to Pay?

Usually, it is the norm for caterers to collect some percentage of the total fees charged upfront before executing the job. These are some of the questions you must not fail to ask a client. This is important so as to avoid any breach of contract or misunderstanding that may arise when it is time to make payments. You can also ask to know if they will pay in cash or check or transfer et al.

  1. What Will Happen to Left Over Food

Another question that you should ask a client that wants you to cater their wedding ceremony is how the leftover food will be handled. You need to know if the leftover food can be packaged as take home for guests or if the food should be donated to the less privileged or disposed.

  1. Will They Be Providing the Cake

It is not out of place for a different person to handle the food while another person handles the cake. But in some instances, it is the caterer that caters the wedding ceremony that handles everything about food and drinks that will be served in the wedding.

So, part of the questions that you should ask a client that wants you to cater their wedding ceremony is if they want you to also provide the cake. Please note that this is possible only if you also make cakes or you are into partnership with people that make cakes.

  1. How Many Servers are They Expecting and If They Should Wear Special Outfits

As a professional caterer, you should be able to give your clients the option of choosing the number of servers they want and also to know if they would want the servers to wear customized outfits to match with the color of the day. You will be surprised to know that some clients wouldn’t mind to get matching colors and unique outfits for their wedding ceremony – they are ready to pay a premium to get what they want.

  1. What are Your Success Benchmarks?

The hallmark for catering for a wedding event or any other event is when the success benchmarks are meet or even surpassed. So, part of what you need to ask your client as a professional caterer is the key measurable areas where they would want your food and services to be assessed.

It could be the feedback they got from the guests that attended the wedding as it relates to the food and drinks and it could be any success indicator as agreed by you and the client – timing, neatness and overall services.

In Conclusion;

When asking these questions, you must make sure that you document both the questions and the answers you get and also ensure that you get clarification on any area that is not clear enough so that you and your client will be on the same page. Please make sure you also sign a contract agreement before taking any action.

Ajaero Tony Martins