Catering Advice: Part 2

Catering 102

The Basics of Catering

In part two of our three part series: Catering Advice, we will be discussing the basics of catering such as common lingo and simple questions to ask when it is your first time using a caterer.

After taking the steps recommended in Catering 101, these are a few things we feel are important to know when discussing your event with your caterer.

Common Terms:

Catering Lingo. Each company may have their own terms; however, this general shared language is important for you to know too!

Back of House: “Backstage.” Everything your guests do not (and should not) see.

Charger: “Under plate”. These are larger decorative plates used to dress up the table. Food is not served directly on them

Corkage: A fee charged per bottle for opening and serving wine brought in by the client.

Deposit: The amount required to pay in advance of your booking to maintain your reserved date.

Family Style: A style of serving food in which guests help themselves from plates of food that have been put in the middle of the table .

Food Stations: A fun way of serving a variety of foods at a reception.

Front of House: Like the stage of a theatre; this is everything you and your guests do see.

Linens (aka Napery): The table covers and napkins.

Plated service: A method of presentation where food is arranged by the chef before being presented to guests individually at guest table.

Platters: Used to display and serve hors d’oeuvres to your guests.

Service: A term for the delivery of food and drinks to all of the guests.

Site Visit: A walk-through at the venue before or after booking for the event. This will allow you to determine limitations, spacing and advantages of the venue. After a visit, teams can plan their set up as well as plan for last minute changes.

Tasting: A pre-event meeting where the client tastes menu options before finalizing the meal plan with the catering manager or chef.



Questions to ask your caterer:

Provided below is a basic flow of questions to ask when speaking

on the phone or in person to inquire about their food and services. 


. Do you have my date open?

. Have you done events at my location?

. Can you assist with other aspects of the wedding?

. Do you do food tastings?

Food & Presentation

. Given my budget, guest count and event style, what food choices would you recommend?

. What are your catering service and food service packages?

. Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?

. How much do you charge for children and vendor meals?

. Do you charge a cake-cutting fee?

. Do you handle or provide rental equipment? What are your available options?

. What is your policy on set up and cleanup? 


. Do you provide alcoholic beverages and bartenders?

. Do you provide a non-alcoholic beverage station?

. Will your staff serve the wine with dinner? Do you provide a toast service?


. How is your pricing broken down? Is gratuity inclusive?

. What is the last date I can give you a final guest count and timeline?

. How much of a deposit is required to hold my date?

. When is the final payment due?

. What is your refund or cancellation policy?



Email Template:

This template gives your future caterer all of the basic information they will need

in order to create a proposal and prepare to discuss your event with you. The more

information you give in the beginning, the easier it is to discuss when you meet since

they will already have an idea of what to expect.


Hello {Catering Company},

My name is {NAME} and I am interested in using your services for my {EVENT}.

My event is on {DATE} and will be located at {VENUE} in {CITY}. I was wondering

if I could meet with you to discuss the menu and details about the event. We are

estimating to have about {NUMBER OF GUESTS} and our event will go from

{START} to {END}.

I am looking forward to your response and I hope to talk soon.

If you would like to call me, here is my telephone number:


Thank you,