Wedding Catering Checklist

A celebration isn’t much of a celebration without food. Your wedding day is definitely the mother of all celebrations, and as such, a feast is in high order. With so many themes and flavours to choose from, not to mention special diets to consider, it can be a headache to choose a menu and arrange catering, especially if you leave things to the last minute. Following this checklist will ensure that you don’t forget any important details, and that your guests are utterly satisfied by the end of the party.


This checklist is, of course, only a guideline. Each caterer works to a different timeline and some caterers book up faster than others. If you have less than a year until W-day, follow these steps, in relatively the same order, but adjust the timeframes according to the terms that your caterer is willing to work by.

One Year to Go

• As soon as your darling pops the question, it’s time to start looking for venues and caterers – often, the two come hand-in-hand.

• Give some careful thought to the formality of your wedding, the type of food you would like served, and the way in which you would like it presented (i.e. buffet, outdoor finger food, six course sit-down meal) – convey this vision to each caterer you meet with, to ensure that they are able to meet your needs and draw up an accurate quotation.

9 Months to Go

• Prior to hiring, arrange some taste testings with your short-listed catering candidates. Make sure that you are completely happy with the taste, texture and presentation of the food, before signing on the dotted line.

• Don’t “um and ah” for too long. Popular caterers book up fast. Make a decision and put down a deposit.

• If you’re hiring an off-site caterer, check with your venue’s policies about extra fees, such as corkage and cake-cutting, and factor these into your budget.

6 Months

• Finalise the menu and come to an agreement on the final price. This may mean that you need to pay another instalment, if the original quotation differs greatly from the final quotation.

• Read the fine print of the contract carefully and make sure that you agree with all of the details before signing. Check to make sure that everything you need is included in the fees, such as chair covers, linens, glassware, cutlery, etc.

• Make a note of the final payment due date and mark it in your calendar.

3 Months

• By now, you’ve probably hired all of your vendors. This means that you probably know how many members are in the band and how many assistants the photographer will be bringing along on the day. Talk to your caterer to arrange a less-expensive but equally-delicious meal for your vendors.

1 Month

• You should have received all of your RSVPs by now. Give this final head count to the caterer. This may mean that the fee needs to be adjusted.

• Pay the remaining balance of the fee, unless your caterer has requested that the final amount be paid on the day.

• If you’re having a buffet, make sure that the caterer has a floor plan of the venue and knows exactly where you want the buffet tables to be positioned.

1 Week

• Make arrangements for one of the wedding party members to collect any leftovers after the reception and distribute them, while you’re enjoying your honeymoon, to whomever you deem worthy.

The Day Before

• Hand over the responsibility, of paying the final fee at the reception, to the best man, or someone as equally capable. This leaves one less thing for you and your partner to worry about on the day.

The Big Day

• Make sure you partake of the delicious food that you and your partner have painstakingly chosen. It can be easy to forget to eat when you’re busy doing the rounds and greeting all of your guests. Do try to sit down and enjoy the gastronomic feast that has been prepared in your honour. Oh, and forget the diet – this is your day to indulge!