(Closed) book venue or caterer first? Or both together?

posted 6 years ago in Logistics
Post # 3
7311 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast

Book the venue. You can’t book anything else until you know when and where.

By The Way…. $40 pp for food and drinks is a perfectly respectable amount. As long as you aren’t expecting 4 courses or something otherwise lavish, you should be okay. 

Post # 4
241 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I would book the venue first. Some places seem to be picky or don’t allow outside caterers so what if you loved a venue and already had your caterer and the venue doesn’t allow outside caterers? The venue would be more expensive so if you had that first you would be able to budget the rest.

Post # 5
3471 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA

Book the venue first, when you sit down to pick a date you need to be flexible within the venue’s availability– if you have to call the caterer and try to change your date, you will likely have to pay a fee. 

Choose your venue and plan from there.  Also, you don’t need a set menu to talk to the caterer, just get an idea of what you want and see what menus they come up with for you, based on  your budget. 

Post # 6
1427 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

Venue first, then look at their list of usable caterers and start interviewing from there.

Post # 7
663 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017 - Vegas Wedings

I think it would depend which is more important to you. I would think since you are focused on keeping costs down it would behoove you to choose a caterer who is well priced and can give you what you want,  then find a venue that they can work with (i.e. maybe the need a full kitchen or wont supply chairs). That being said, have you found any venues that are amazing and well priced and very flexible? If you come across a crazy deal span that up so you have more $$ to put towards food.


Post # 8
11356 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

You should book the venue first, so that you will know what restrictions exist regarding caterers.  Some venues have their own caterers, and others will only permit you to choose from a list of caterers.

Post # 9
633 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

It really depends, but as you don’t have a set caterer you want, then I’d do venue first. I have friends who are caterers, so we booked them first, then found a venue that was available and allowed outside catering. Even when we moved our wedding date, I gave up the venue so we could keep them as our caterer! Of course, they now have their own venue, so we’re hoping it will work for us…my fiance actually did some repairs and painting for them on it, so we’re getting a great deal already…but at the time we thought it would be too small for us…looking at it again this week to see if it will work, especially since they fixed up the outside! 

So pick a few venues, and if they have preferred caterers, check those out. Get as much info as you can before actually booking anything. If the catering is too expensive, then find a caterer you CAN afford and find a venue that will let you bring them in. It’s a little more difficult that way, but at least you’ll be within budget from the start!

Post # 10
201 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Does the venue that you like allow you to use any caterer?  If yes, you should be ok booking a venue first.  Many venues only allow a few caterers to come to their venue.  If that’s the case, you really need to find out if those caterers can work with your budget before you book.  For example, we found a historical house that we would have loved to have as our venue, but they only allowed two different caterers to come into the venue.  When I talked to the caterers, both wanted over $100/person for the meal I wanted to serve.  In the end, that was too much and we found another venue.

Post # 11
705 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Yes! Book the venue first! You never know, you might fall in love with a venue that requires you to use thier caterers or staff…

Post # 12
846 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

definitely book the venue first. most venues have rules about bringing in outside catering.

Post # 13
9578 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

Book the venue first.  It wouldn’t be fun to book a caterer and then have to change your date with them or find a new one because the venue you decide upon is only available certain weekends. I don’t think $40pp is a crazy low amount for a budget.

if you can find a venue that lets you bring in your own caterer, then you will be able to find a caterer to fit your budget!

Post # 15
11167 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

If you are on a very tight budget I would be hesitant to advise to book the venue UNLESS they allow the option of outside catering. What happens if the in-house or preferred catering options aren’t with your budget? You are then quite honestly stuck.

If outside catering is allowed then move forward. If the in-house or preferred catering are the only options you need to sit down and discuss your budget in detail before signing anything. Get whatever they suggest in writing before booking including the cost of catering and what that includes. Venues will make promises they can’t keep to get you to commit.


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