Post # 1
I requested quotes from 7 caterers (out of 12 on the approved ilst), only 6 bothered to respond, and 1 lady was unpleasant on the phone, so we are considering 5.
Of those 5, one was the first one on the list alphabetically, one we had tried some of their hors d’oeuvres at an open house, and three our venue director recommended when I told her I was more concerned with having great food and less concerned with price.
Two will not let us taste anything before booking. Three will. All the quotes are very close in price (once you add in all the add ons and recalculate a few things to make them comparable, which my dorky little accountant’s heart took great delight in doing) They are all about $150pp EXCEPT one of the ones the venue recommended, which is only $100pp. That is a HUGE difference considering we have 150 guests – they would cost $7500 less!!
We are in LOVE with the menu they put together too. It is so much more us than any of the other menus, which are all like “upscale generic.” I swear to you every time the lady sends me a new version to approve I sit in my office salivating and digging through my drawers looking for something to eat. So I wish I could just be like oh yay, so cheap! But being a city girl, it just makes me suspicious as hell. Why on earth are they so much cheaper?
They are one of the ones offering a tasting, so we are definitely going to go do that. Although I’ve heard you can’t even trust the tasting because cooking for 2 people is so different from cooking for 100+. But that won’t be for a few weeks and I need someone to make me feel better now. Can you think of a reasonable explanation? Did you have an experience like that that turned out well/badly? Is there a magic question I can ask them that will make them be like “Oh. Yes. Rat meat. But once it’s marinated your guests will never know!”
Post # 3
Have you looked online for reviews of the less expensive caterer? We got a really amazing deal on our DJ and I was terrified they were going to be terrible and they turned out being really awesome. Every once in a blue moon you can get lucky in wedding planning!
Post # 4
@TrousseauHorse: I am usually the first person to say “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t” but $7500 is a lot of money to save (and I’m a city girl too). Have you checked out reviews for the company online? Maybe they’re members of the BBB and you can check their ratings. Howabout asking for some references? I think the $7500 savings is well worth the leg work, especially if the food descriptions sound so amazing.
Also, I probably would say something like “wow, your pricing is so competitive. others in the area are charging much more for food that doesn’t sound as good”, see if they offer any insight into how they are able to stay in business with such low prices.
Good luck to you!
Post # 5
I selected “There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation which I will elaborate on below”. I can’t actually elaborate, however to me $100pp doesn’t seem cheap enough to make me suspicious. As my local Thai restaurant proves to me time and time again, delicious food does not have to be ridiculously expensive! I suspect that the other caterers just have a greater “wedding markup”.
Post # 6
Do they offer competitive wages to their employees? Or, is it a family operation where they all pitch in? There could be substantial cost savings there.
Post # 7
@julies1949: It’s funny you mentioned wages because their proposal actually says “Gratuity is not expected. We compensate our staff well above standard tipping wage.” Whereas one of the expensive places had a line in their proposal about “18% standard service charge – this charge has been waved as a courtesy to you and left up to your discretion” which I felt like was a little bit like “hint hint, this is what we expect, cheapo!”
I believe they’re a pretty big company, although I’m not completely sure. They don’t provide a breakdown of the food vs. beverage vs. service vs. equipment, which all the other places did show.
Post # 8
I don’t think they’re so cheap you should bbe suspicious. Defintely check reviews, but if you like them, then go for it!
Post # 9
I’m at the same place you are–and I have one caterer that’s coming in at $88/person when the others are at least $110 (we’re providing our own alcohol). I checked out their Yelp reviews (generally strong), and they’re actually the same company that did Mrs. Stilleto’s wedding. So I’m guessing they’re legit, but I want to go eat at their restaurant to see for sure.
I hear you on the menus–theirs seems more laidback and less fancy, but still good food.
I think some of the caterers charge more for their fancy factor, like making the servers wears tuxes and having super fancy presentation.
Post # 10
@TrousseauHorse: I didn’t read your answer choices before I replied–marinated rat?!? That’s awesome!
Post # 11
Well.. We’re spending about $10 per person on the meal, so I wouldn’t be too worried lol.