Unless you give catered parties frequently, you may not know what questions to ask. A sampling of wedding reminders:

Approach several caterers with a maximum dollar limit to compare. Be sure to note whether their prices include supplies (china, silver, etc.), staff salaries, gratuities, taxes and setting and clean-up duties. A written contract is essential.

Ask if waiters/waitresses speak English. This may seem like a silly question until Aunt Tilly needs directions to the restroom.

Unless you ask, caterers may provide a menu that looks good on paper, but in reality leaves guests hungry. This is particularly important if your serve only finger food and not a meal. Ask a caterer how many pieces per person and how many of each food per person.

If you want to have a caterer prepare or serve a special family recipe, be sure to ask if this is permitted.

In some instances, tipping the help before the reception will make a big difference in the service you receive.

Buy wedding cakes by the pound. One pound of pound cake will serve 5 people, but one pound of fruit, carrot and some chocolate cakes will not serve as many.

Ask photographer and musicians whether they expect to be fed at the reception.

Make arrangements in advance with your caterer, wine merchant or liquor store to return unopened bottles for a refund or credit.

Guests usually drink more when waiters/waitresses pass drinks than they do if they must get the drinks themselves at a bar.

If you are buying champagne, bottles larger than magnums are no saving; you're paying extra for a specially made bottle.

A good rule of thumb for buying champagne is to figure one-third bottle per guest if it is offered for drinking throughout the reception. For toasting only, estimate about one-quarter bottle per guest.