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Catering and Cake Checklist for Your Wedding

Date: 6/1/2004
Written By: Elizabeth Morgan, Wedding Consultant


An experienced caterer can deal with all of your catering needs and offer you delicious and artfully displayed selections. They can also give you great ideas on stretching your reception budget and help you with the floor plan so traffic flows are optimized. Interviewing potential caterers should take place 6-12 months in advance of your wedding date. 

A taste test is recommended. Your wedding is not complete without the wedding cake! At least 4 months in advance, shop around for a good baker. Ask to see pictures of their cakes and compare the cost and quality. Don't be afraid to make special requests in colors, flavors, shapes, and styles. The traditional tiered cake is still the favorite of many modern brides, but cake designers can do some pretty amazing things with cakes these days. 

The number of guests usually determines the size of your cake, but don't let that stop you from getting the cake of your dreams! Alternatives to the traditional bride and groom cake top include fresh flowers and glass or metallic sculptures. The cake should have its own table at the reception with plenty of room around it for guests, photographers, and both of you. 

Should you decide not to use the professional services of a wedding consultant, these are some of the questions to be sure to ask when you book your vendors: 

Questions for your caterer
1. Are you available on my wedding date? 
2. Can you supply examples of suggested menus along with prices? 
3. Do you insist on doing all the catering at our wedding? 
4. If we are able to supply the wine, what do you charge for corkage? 
5. Are you familiar with my wedding site? 
6. What do you charge?
(a) Are you willing to work within my budget? 
(b) What suggestions do you have, given my needs and budget? 
(c) Are taxes and gratuities extra? 
(d) Does the cost cover setup and cleanup? 
(e) Is there a minimum charge? If so, how much?
7. What are the deposit and cancellation policies? 
8. What are your guarantees? 
9. What time do you insist the reception finishes by? 
10. Do you include a cake stand and knife if required?
(a) Will you cut the cake and supply plates and forks?
(b) Will you serve the punch and coffee?
11. When is the deadline for notification regarding menu selection? 
12. How do you determine the head count? 
13. Can you provide colored linens? 
14. Will you serve the buffet or is it self-serve? 
15. What are the sizes of the portions? 
16. Do you use disposable china and flatware? 
17. Will you set up the room? 
18. When is the final guest estimate needed? 
19. Will there be a representative available on-site during the meal-time? 
20. Will you provide references or a portfolio? 

Questions for your Cake Designer:
1. Are you available on my wedding date? 
2. Do you specialize in wedding cakes? 
3. What is your guarantee? 
4. May I have a taste test of the cake and frosting? 
5. Do you specialize in any particular style, flavor, or size? What types of wedding and grooms cakes do you make?
6. How much do you charge? What are the payment terms? 
7. When do I need to return the support pieces? 
8. Do you supply a cake knife? What is the best way to cut the cake? 
9. How far in advance should I place my order? 
10. When will you deliver and set up the cake?