Post # 1
My fiance and I looked at venues last weekend for our Oct 2013 wedding and we saw several that are pretty and in our price range. But, now we’re stuck on how to make a decision without having an exact catering package.
We are on a MAJOR budget ($5000 / 50 people), so one of our major worries is how to keep our food/booze bill low enough. We’re pretty flexible on having a brunch, or maybe just a cocktail party with appetizers, etc., and maybe just a beer/wine bar.
(I should note here that our wedding will be out of town for both us and guests… so it’s not really feasible to have a potluck or make our own food).
On the one hand, I feel like we should nail down a date and venue ASAP, and then surely we can find SOMETHING for food in our price range.
But then I worry that we’ll book a venue and then find that food is too expensive!
We’ve done some research into caterers, but it’s frustrating bc they will typically say ‘of course we can work with your price range, tell us what you want!’ but I don’t have a set menu in my head… and I feel like that’s too detailed to get into right now when I just want to set a date and location!
So what do you think? Just book a venue and have faith that we can find someone who can do us for about $40pp? Or wait until we have a for-sure caterer?
Post # 3
- 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
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
- 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
Venue first, then look at their list of usable caterers and start interviewing from there.
Post # 7
- 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
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
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
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
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
definitely book the venue first. most venues have rules about bringing in outside catering.
Post # 13
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 # 14
Thanks everyone – I kind of thought the venue first was a better plan, but thanks for the reality check.
And yeah, I’m hoping that on a $5000 overall budget, we can spend about $2000 on food and bev. Not sure how we’ll get a photographer and all that too… but I’d rather cut dancing if we have to and have a nice meal and bar, than have people come from out of state just for cake.
Post # 15
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.