How to Shop for a Wedding Caterer

Most wedding venues in Singapore can recommend a wedding caterer to help you realize the wedding of your dreams. A caterer recommended by the venue manager more likely has years of experience with special events like weddings and can deliver excellent service.

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However, not all wedding caterers have the same food and service options, because there are a lot of factors that go into catering besides serving food and beverages. Full-service wedding caterers for example are not just responsible for the food but also for the menu planning, logistics, and post event needs. That is wholly different from caterers that offer budget-friendly packages for less traditional weddings, the restaurant wedding caterers that are affiliated with a small venue, and food truck catering for outdoor ceremonies.

To decide whether the caterer service can fulfill your needs, you need to consider other factors besides the menu. Here are six questions couples should ask caterers:

1.  What is your approach to food preparation? The couple most likely has an idea how they want their guests to be served and what the menu should consist of, but the caterer should be able to explain the comparative costs of the menu options, where and how to deliver the food to keep it fresh, will it exceed the couple’s budget, and how best to serve the food if the couple’s idea is not doable.

2.  How many staff do you have? Buffet meals need a different type of service from seated meals, the latter requiring more staff to serve the food. Buffet meals require fewer staff, but the caterer also has to anticipate the staff to guest ratio to avoid overcrowding and running out of food.

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3.  How many weddings have you served? While it may not be necessary for the caterer to have experience with wedding catering, it is important that they have prior experiences in handling big events. However, caterers that specialize in weddings will most likely be able to provide you with what you need exactly.

4.  Have you served meals at different venues? A professional caterer should anticipate problems and prepare for them beforehand. As more couples nowadays want to have a unique wedding, an experienced caterer should have no problems with logistics.

5.  What is the ratio of your staff to guests? How many waiters will be needed with the type of reception you have in mind? How much do they charge for additional waiters or bartenders? It is the caterer’s task to provide enough manpower to make the event successful.

6.  How much is the additional charge for gratuities, taxes, and service? Pricing should be clear from the beginning to avoid confusion. The caterer should give you an estimate based on the number of guests and the service you want. Some packages need a minimum number of guests, so always ask for a list of the charges.


Additional Questions

Do not hesitate to ask for more details about the food and service. Follow-up questions listed below will give you an idea of the caterer’s competence and experience.

–  Do you need a final guest count?

–   Are we allowed to pick the alcoholic beverages?

–  Is there a fee for setting up a bar?

–  Do you provide tableside choice of entrees for the guests? If yes, what choices do you offer?

–  Does the service include the meal for the staff?

–  Do you have a menu for kids? How much?

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–  How will you set up a kitchen and serving area for outdoor events?

–  Can we schedule a menu tasting?

–  Are you going to provide the setup and decoration for the buffet?

–  How much time do you need to set up?

–  Do you have a pastry chef who makes wedding cakes?

–  Is there an extra charge if we buy the cake from another caterer or shop?

–  Do you have overtime charges?

–  Are setup and cleanup fees included in the estimate?

–  How are leftovers handled?

–  How will the staff be attired?

–  Do you have a license to operate? Do you have a health certificate from the NEA?

–  How much liability insurance do you carry? Does it include liquor liability insurance?

If the couple is looking for a full-package wedding caterer, there are additional factors to keep in mind besides the menu. They should look at the caterer portfolio to check examples of the venue setup and decoration. You can also ask for references of their recent clients if you want to ask questions about their experience with the caterer. Planning for the table and bar setup, food display, buffet presentation, and dinnerware and other equipment are part of the service.

Here are questions couples may consider asking in relation to presentation:

–  Will you provide the linen, crockery, cutlery, cake stand, dinnerware, and other catering equipment?

–  Do you have colors and styles that will fit the theme and venue of the wedding?

–  Will you provide the chairs and tables?

–  What types of props and unique serving pieces do you have?

–  Do we need to pay for damages in equipment and dinnerware?


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Finally, make sure that the caterer has a free schedule before signing a contract. Put everything in paper including the estimated charges.

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