Shopping around for a caterer for your wedding reception can be a tedious task, but it’s also one of the more important decisions you’ll make as part of your wedding planning. Whether you’re planning on offering a plated dinner, a buffet, or anything in between, the fact remains that there are some questions worth asking any caterer upon requesting a quote for their services.

Does the Quote Include Linens and Chair Covers?

Catering companies differ greatly in the packages they offer, so if linens and chair covers are a must for your reception, make sure the quote you’re requesting already includes these items. Some catering companies will only quote you for the cost of the food, beverages, and wait staff unless you explicitly tell them to include the linens, chair covers, and other accessories.

Do You Offer Flexible Options for Alcohol?

If you’re on a budget, then paying hourly per-person for an open bar just might not be feasible for you. This is where finding a catering company with flexible options for alcohol can really save you money. For example, some may allow you to purchase and bring in your own alcohol, whereas others may allow you to pre-pay a bar tab with a certain dollar amount. This way, you can provide your guests with some free booze, but you won’t be on-the-hook for buying a full open bar.

Is the Service Fee and Gratuity Included?

This is huge. Check with your caterer to find out what fees and taxes have already been included in your quote. It’s not uncommon for service fees for bartenders and members of the wait staff to total 20% or more, so the last thing you want is for this not to be included and end up with a significantly larger bill than you were expecting. Also, getting a quote that includes gratuity can save you from having to remember to tip on the big day.

How Do You Charge for Children and Vendors?

If you’ll be paying for food for your vendors (photographer, DJ, etc.) and/or will have children in attendance, make sure you find out how your venue handles these guests. Often times, children are put into a separate head count and receive a different, cheaper meal than the rest of your guests. Some catering companies will even offer discounted meals to your vendors, which can save you a pretty penny when all is said and done.