Post # 1
We are considering three caterers and have a bit of a dilemma. They have each given us very different estimates for number of staff and hours it will take to cater our wedding. I don’t know who to believe and am wondering what you all think sounds reasonable.
A bit of background – our wedding will be a tented recption for approx. 250 people at 25 6ft round tables. We are having a family style meal so platters of food will be brought to each table and guest will serve themselves. We are also planning to have bottles of wine on each table for guests to serve themselves. Before dinner there will be a cocktail hour with passed appetizers.
So here are the bids we received for essentially the same menu:
Caterer #1: 21 staff – 2 “service captains” for 14 hours, 15 staff for 11 hours (includes 2 lead kitchen assistants, 8 passers/busers, 3 beverage attandants, and 2 bartenders), and 4 kitchen assistants for 6 hours.
Caterer #2: 13 staff for 6 hours. This includes 1 on-site supervisor, 1 head chef, 2 prep chefs, 6 servers, and 3 bartenders.
Caterer #3: 12 staff for approx. 12 hours. He did not provide a breakdown of the various roles. However, what I like about him is he charges a flat fee for labor instead of by the hour like the other two. So we know up front exactly how much we will be paying even if it takes more time than he expects.
Does anyone who had a similar size wedding have advice for which one sounds most reasonable? All three have good food although I like #2’s food the most. But I worry that she may be underestimating what it takes to pull off the event. Or is #1 over the top? I don’t mind paying to have everything run smoothly but don’t want to pay more just because they are throwing in extra people unnecessarily. Please help!
Post # 3
I think something that is really important with the caterer that didn’t give you a breakdown of labor roles is: How many of those are dedicated bar tenders, and is there someone that is clearly in charge? With that many people, you really do want minimum two, 3 would really be best – otherwise you’ll have people standing in line more than they are actually socializing. Also, this is pretty obvious – you want to know who is the head person, and be communicating with them prior to the event. You need to make sure that person – the person who will actually be there and be in charge, not just your catering contact – knows your vision inside and out. It could be chaos otherwise.
Do you have reviews online of the different caterers that you could look at? That should also be a key factor in your decision!
Post # 4
@ crayfish: Thanks! That is a good point. The owner for #3 is the one we’ve been in contact with and he will be in charge on the wedding day. But we do need to get more info from him for sure. He was recommended by a family friend who has used him as a caterer for many years but he is really a small shop. I haven’t found a ton of info online especially for #2 and #3. #1 seems to be more widely known in the wedding world based on what I’ve heard from wedding planners I’ve interviewed.
Post # 5
don’t underestimate the power of a small shop. My husband is the manager of a catering company – and our wedding was about 85 people (bartender was included through our venue, so that’s not included here…) and my hubby’s Boss and 3 other servers were who cooked/served the food. Seriously 4 people total (5 including the venue’s bartender). Now, granted, we had a buffet and not plated – and also I can’t really compare what we were charged due to the fact that, obviously my husband is the manager, his boss gave us a smokin’ deal…just the cost of food – $850 for $85 people and that was everything – cake, servers, food, everything…and, of course, I know that most weddings’ catering bills are easily 5 x that, if not more… :p
But just wanted to throw it out there “DON’T understimate a smaller shop” 🙂
I agree looking for more reviews, if possible, though!