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Gino Spano

As your big day approaches, you’re busy putting the finishing touches on everything. Many last-minute tasks must be attended to, and there are all sorts of small details that crop up at the last second.

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Some of those details no doubt pertain to food and drink. You’re likely wondering what to ask your caterer.

Catering questions include what time the caterer will arrive at the site, if the catering team will handle table settings, how tips will be handled, and what will be done with leftovers. You’ll also want to know when you need to finalize the menu and the guest count. There are some other catering questions you’ll likely want to ask too.

1. Asking When the Menu Is Due Is One of the Most Common Catering Questions

You should probably ask this long before your wedding day approaches. You might want to ask it even before you book the catering for your event.

Knowing when you need to submit a finalized guest count and a finalized menu gives you a timeline. If your caterer needs a final count two months before the wedding and your RSVP deadline is a month before, you’ll likely have some trouble.

2. How Do You Handle Tips?

Some of your guests may try to tip the servers at your wedding. This is common practice in restaurants, and many people feel obliged to offer a tip to waitstaff, no matter the venue.

Ask your caterer how they handle this. Do they allow servers to handle tips individually, or do they have a strict no-tipping policy? If all tips are to be collected and split between the servers, you can assist by having tip jars or a similar collection point.

3. Who Will Handle Table Settings and Cleanup?

It’s important to know in advance who will be responsible for the table settings. Is it going to be the wedding venue staff, or is the caterer expected to handle it? This may depend on if you’re using the venue’s in-house services, or if you’ve hired someone from outside.

You may need to pay an additional fee for this service, so it’s best to ask. Otherwise, you may arrive and find your tables unset or realize that you’re handling it on your own the day before.

Cleanup is a similar issue. Talk to the caterer about who will be clearing tables and keeping the venue neat and tidy during the event.

4. What Time Will You Arrive?

Knowing when the caterer will arrive at your venue is important. While much of what the caterer does is behind-the-scenes work, you still need to know what time they’ll begin.

The caterer should arrive well before the meal service, especially if they’re handling table settings. If the caterer plans to arrive last-minute, this could disrupt your wedding, especially if your ceremony is going on at the same site.

Work with the caterer to plan a schedule and minimize disruptions.

5. What Happens to Leftovers?

What’s the caterer’s policy on leftovers? If you’ve done your math right, you may not have much or anything left over. Of course, it’s always better to have too much food than not enough.

Will leftovers be used to provide vendor meals, or will they simply be tossed in the trash? If you’re concerned about food waste, you may ask if the caterer would consider allowing a different leftover policy. Try to work more closely with them to minimize food waste.

6. Where Does the Food Come From?

Another question you may want to ask your caterer is where they source their ingredients. While some couples don’t care, many people are concerned about ethically sourced meat and local ingredients.

These catering questions can help you plan your event more seamlessly. Discuss openly with your caterer and develop a plan to schedule and divide up tasks, so everything comes together on the big day.


Gino Spano

Starting with roots in a kitchen at 14 years old, he worked his way up the ranks and by the young age of 17 was responsible for daily events of 50 to 600 people. Gino continued to use his talents to work in catering, banquet and restaurant kitchens across the GTA. His love for Italian, French and Asian cuisine paired with his wide variety of knowledge brought him success in his new venture at Seventh Heaven in 2001. Over the past 12 years, he has cooked many meals for social events, corporate events and government officials. His love for new challenges brought him into corporate sales where he and the Seventh Heaven team won Best Catered Event for Canadian Linen’s “The Great White North” – Facility Grand Opening in 2009.
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