Post # 1
Just looking for some vendor help. So the FI and I have been looking for caterers for maybe a month now? The first contact never returned our emails so he was axed. Nice guy too but really unreliable this early in the game, it threw up some red flags.
These past three weeks we have been talking to a large caterer in our area. We went to a free tasting, loved the food and decided to have a meeting with them. We laid out all of our info and asked if they could make up a proposal. Now, I thought that we had an alright budget. The FI and I are doing most of everything ourselves so they didnt need to worry about rentals, linens, cake, or alcohol. We want a buffet style meal for 100 people though we estimate probably only 85 will attend. We said we would like everything (including tax) to come to around 3500, that was our cap. Now today she sends us back our proposal with three different options and the smallest one is DOUBLE OUR BUDGET! Hold up…what the what?! I can understand going a bit over budget, but double?? I think what was more aggrivating is that she didnt A) apologize in the email, B) give us options to lower the price or C) tell us we were way out of their league at the initial meeting. It just sort of came off like this is what I got, take it or leave it. I am beginning to think maybe our budget is too small for dinner? Do you guy’s think 3500 is do-able?
Bee’s am I being dramatic about this? Should I email her and ask her if there is anyway she could bring her proposal out of the stratosphere? Or should I just axe her too and go back to square one?
Either way, this caterering business is becoming way more stressful that any other part of our planning has been thus far. Jeez Louise.
Post # 3
$3500 is totally do-able, especially in the South, as it says you are from. I would either write back and reiterate your budget and ask if there are ways to work with it, and/or find someone else. Restaurants are open cheaper alternatives because they don’t rely solely on catering for their profits. Some will even deliver, setup and serve. Think outside the box on caterers. Nice grocery stores, restaurants, even little mom and pop set-ups can work nicely.
Post # 4
- Wedding: May 2013 - Walt Disney World
It doesn’t hurt to email them back and ask them for options to help you get down to your budget…removing some items from the buffet can do that. Our buffet menu initially started off at $110 per head (I think), but after we streamlined some items it got down to $88 per head.
Post # 5
To meet your budget, that’s over $35 per person (if my math’s right). I’m not sure the venue you chose or where you’re located in the South, but that seems very high to me. Buffet at our nice venue (Downtown, right in the city) would’ve been between $25-$30 per person and the higher end would be including two meats, such as prime rib and chicken. With only knowing very few details, it sounds like it’s overpriced.
What exactly does that buffet include?
Post # 6
$3500 for 100 people seems unrealistic to me. Quote a few other caterers and see where the numbers are averaging. What would she be apologizing for? I do think she should have told you that your budget is too low for them. They probably thought once you tried the food you wouldn’t be so worried about the budget.
Post # 7
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
We’re doing a buffet for 150 for $3700, so I think your budget is totally reasonable. (Although, we’re not having a ton of different food options.) Keep looking around, unless you are asking for a LOT of food.
Post # 8
It looks like for the cheaper menu they want to charge us 2,289.00 for the food, 800 for beverages (most of that I think is the champagne toast which I now realize is totally unneedable :), 716 for setup and rental items (a few tables for the buffet items I guess) and almost 2200.00 for service. 95 for rental delivery, and 150 for travel. Woof!
For the buffet, she quoted two entree’s, two veggies, rolls and a salad. Also a vegetarian option that she put plated instead of in the buffet. Coffee, ice tea, and lemonade.
Post # 9
I think your budget is reasonable. They should have told you if they were so far out of your budget. Honestly, it sounds like they’re being lazy and just sending stock options without individualizing it for your budget. So I would email them and tell them that those options too far above the budget that you gave them. Ask if they can alter the proposal work with your budget. You could also so that if that’s the cheapest they can offer, you understand but you’ll have to go with someone else. And I bet then they’ll work with you.
Post # 10
We had a venue change and when I called the caterer to see about switching the menu around to lower the cost, he took $400 off of our price and we didn’t have to change!
Asking is the best option. If they say no, go somewhere else.
Post # 11
Thanks y’all! I so appreciate all the assistance.
Post # 12
- Wedding: August 2012 - W Hotel Silicon Valley
It doesn’t hurt to ask, they’re not going to offer you anything if you don’t ask!
When we first got quoted for our wedding dinner, it was WAY out of our budget. I worked with them for several weeks trying to adjust the menu and the pricing so it fit into our budget!
Post # 13
I think it just takes some hunting around, honestly.
Initially the cheapest catering I could find in mid-michigan was about $17 per head before tax, but now we got it down to $13 (including tax) per person just by thinking outside the box and going with a restaurant and not having anybody wait on the buffet.
Everything included in our catering:
Ham &/or Turkey Subs (veggies include onions, lettuce, & tomato)
Tossed Salad (w/ 3 homemade dressing options)
2 Soup Options ( homemade white chicken chili & cream of potato)
Homemade Carrot Cake
Lemonade & Coffee
My point here is that sometimes if you think “outside” the catering business for catering, you can bring the cost WAY down, and get more bang for your buck. I never thought this restaurant would be within my budget because it’s a steakhouse and the food is amazing, but because I went ahead and asked I was pleasantly surprised.
I can’t even fathom somebody telling me it’s going to be $70 per head. I realize that a budget like that would probably include prime rib, and I’m just having subs, but I can’t even image paying that kind of money. I’d keep looking, because I think your original budget was MORE though enough to accomodate 85-100 guests.