(Closed) Hiring servers/bartenders & bringing food? yea or nay?

posted 5 years ago in Money
Post # 3
3175 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I looked into this, but it actually ended up being cheaper to hire a reasonably priced catering service & pay for their food/servers together. We did bring our own appetizers & desserts, as their prices on these courses seemed a bit inflated, and they offered to serve those things at no additional cost to us, which was awesome. I would look into something like that (bringing a few things, but not all the food).

ETA: We also found that it was much cheaper to buy our own alcohol & hire a bartender. We paid her $150 in cash, spent around $350 on beer, wine & signature cocktails. We also spent $100 buying our own glassware. We had been quoted $14+/person for the caterer to serve Franzia & gross domestic beers out of plastic ware, so we got better quality beverages served out of glassware for a lower price.

Post # 4
16 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

I agree that you won’t save much by buying the food and service separately, and it could even cost more than getting a package deal.  If you are a good cook and have a smallish wedding, you could make the food yourself and hire someone to serve it.  We had a pig roast for our rehearsal dinner, and we made all of the side dishes and dessert so that we just paid for someone to make the pig.  It saved a lot of money and people loved the food, but we only served 60.  I couldn’t imagine doing a wedding with 100+ people, so you need to be realistic. 

You could save money by buying your own alcohol (if that is allowed at your venue) and making appetizers or desserts.  We had a very simple cocktail hour with platters that we made in advance with meats, cheeses, fruits, and nuts.  It was definitely cheaper than going through our caterer.

My other piece of advice is to negotiate!  My caterer originally quoted us $40 per person.  I told her we could only afford $25 per person.  She dropped one of the side dishes, and then agreed to the $25 rate.  This is especially effective if you have the wedding at an off-peak time, but the worst they can say is no.

Post # 5
1217 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

@les105:  +1. Our venue provides the catering so I’m not sure about that, but that sounds right – I would guess that the catering company wouldn’t charge a lot extra for the servers. My friends in college worked for catering companies and weren’t paid too well, so I don’t think there’s a huge price differential. Also, the servers for catering companies always seem to be really professional at weddings and events.

But on the drinks thing, it is so much easier and fun to pick out your own drinks and hire a bartender. Our venue is BYOB so we’re hiring 2 bartenders at $200 each, and we provide all the alcohol, including mixers. Any bottles that aren’t opened we can return to the liquor store/grocery store with a receipt!

Post # 7
3886 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I used to manage a restaurant and we’d occasionally hire temp staff for specific days when we knew we were going to be beyond busy.  This would be like once every few years.  And it always sucked. Every single time. Not only are you at the mercy of whatever service you use to find these folks, there’s no real quality control over their skills, and some of those guys didn’t even know which end of the knife was the sharp end!  Plus they have never worked together before, don’t know how to organize or manage each other, and are in an unfamiliar location.  I’d count this as “risky at best” and probably not the best way to try to save money.

At least when you use your caterer’s waiters, there’s a designated captain, at least some of them have worked together before, and chances are, your caterer has already gotten rid of any of the really bad ones, leaving just decent, solid staff.

Since they will interface with every single guest, I’d be really reluctant to go out looking for my own wait staff. 

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