(Closed) Catering and Rental Quotes?

posted 10 years ago in San Francisco Bay Area
Post # 3
471 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2008


We used Alex’s Catering out of Vallejo, CA for our September 6, 2008 event in San Francisco. We paid a surcharge and did not get rentals through them per the recommendation of our event planner. We saved more by doing it ourselves through Classic Party Rentals, even with the surcharge added on. In addition, we were able to better control and deal with the specifics. 

When we were looking into caterer and event rentals, we looked into the following:

Caterers: Miraglia, Alex’s Catering, Global Gourmet

Event Rentals: Classic Party Rentals, Stuart Party Rentals, Ideas Events and Decor

I know what you mean by sticker shock. We went through the same thing. There are food costs, then labor, fire watches and permits, gratuity/service charges, and tax all on top of that. 

My best advice for cutting the catering and rental costs is to cut the number of guests and also reduce the number of courses and entree choices for your event.

What are your current quotes and what type of rentals does it include? This way I can tell you where to go based on who I spoke to.

Post # 4
513 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Oh SonomaBride. Private message me if you would like. My fiance and I had FOUR tastings in Northern Cali (Piper Johnson, Melissa Teaf, Wine Valley Catering & willowstone catering), but we requested a lot of bids. The proposals ranged from $5,500-10,000 (the depressing thing was- that those proposals were for a guest count of ~50-65 people. They all claimed it would be cheaper if we had more people though) 

Most of the bids included rentals of silverware, dishes/glassware, linens, wait staff, convection ovens (since our venue doesn’t have a kitchen!). All the caterers chose between two party rental companys: Classic Party Rental or Wine Country Party Rentals.

I WILL say my coordinator recommended a caterer not from Napa. We didn’t ultimately go with this company but why don’t you try Willow Stone Catering. Very professional, and far more affordable. AND shhh (the owner is pretty flexible in pricing so I have heard). They do tons of events in Sonoma.

Private message me if you want more info. I feel like I did a lot of research on catering this summer.

Post # 6
471 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2008


Let me apologize for this novel….! 

Regarding your venue, I know of many venues that have "preferred" vendors but if they DO allow outside caterers, the only persuading you would need to do is have the vendor provide sufficient and current liability insurance, timelines, and all that other good stuff. That usually does the trick.

IMO, $15K including ALL the rentals (set up and breakdown) as well as food, labor, and execution for 120 people, final price out the door is a good price. I know it’s major sticker shock, but considering everything that you are getting, it’s very inclusive at a reasonable rate. 

I actually got a steal from Alex’s Catering with our event, but that was because they had never done our venue before and had no idea what they were getting into until after the fact when they asked other caterers what they would have charged. 

We had 175 people and the cost was only for food, labor, fire permits/fire watch, and execution of the reception. (So, this does not include rentals, lighting, additional kitchen equipment…My venue required Alex’s to cook outside in a tent which meant more rentals. Yikes!)

Our invoice ncluded a beverage meet and greet of sparkling water and cucumber spritzers before the ceremony for an hour; an hour and a half cocktail reception where they served all the alcohol we bought ourselves without a corkage fee with 6 hors d’oeuvres, butler passed; room turnover from ceremony to reception (same space); setting up all the tables, chairs, linens, flatware, china, etc.; a soup, a salad, and 4 entrees for guests to choose from (prime rib, filet of halibut, a pasta selection which was vegetarian, or a child’s meal); service of our wedding cake without cake cutting fees, and a dessert buffet for everyone which included about 25 desserts. Of course, this also included labor, which was about 1/3 of the entire invoice I believe. We had a high ratio of their service staff to guests because of the venue. The entire bill for just this part was about $33K? I can’t remember the exact number.

Anyway, our guests are STILL raving at how good the food was. The portions were large and it was tasty. Everyone commented on how they broke the mass production of food stereotype; they said it was amazing! Factor in that the kitchen was a walk that is equivalent to a  good city block away..I’m blown away. The service was excellent; the staff was very attentive to everyone’s needs and my guests noted this as well. 

They closed the entire shop that day to do our event and didn’t take on any other client like they usually would so I expected good service  to begin with…But not to that caliber! In the end, their prices were very reasonable for what we got, especially compared to other caterers. We’re really happy with the decision, and Rolando was nice to work with. No regrets whatsoever and I would recommend them in a heartbeat.

Let me know if you want details on rentals.  

Post # 7
3 posts

SonomaBride –

I know my sister-in-law paid $13K for food, tables, staffing and all those extras for 150 people.   You should check CaterMarin out, she’s very reasonable.

 Does your estimate include alcohol? If you buy the alcohol you will save huge amounts of money.  My sister-in-law to-be went with CaterMarin, who let her buy her own alcohol.  It was a pretty big group of drinkers, but they still had wine and spirits left over after $1500 of costco and BevMo wine, beer and spirits for 150 people. So this makes a huge difference.



Post # 8
471 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

I will 2nd gidget on the alcohol. It is so important to go with a caterer that does not charge a corkage fee if you are stuck deciding between a few because you can save SO much.

We were not charged corkage or cake cutting fees. They served everything and even boxed the unused portion back up and hauled everything for us from the loading dock to our cocktail/reception area. We returned what our guests didn’t consume. Cases of wine can be returned by the bottle; once cases of beer are opened, the whole case cannot be returned. We bought our wine at a buy one get one for 5 cents sale at BevMo. It was amazing. We paid them a bit to deliver and they came at a specific time.  

While Alex’s had some extremely reasonable and competitive rates for bar/alcohol, it was still a lot more economical to do it ourselves through BevMo. For a full premium bar, I believe it was about $20..$25 a head for the entire event (from cocktails to end which was 5-6 hours) including your juices, sodas, garnishes, etc.  They were willing to work with us on a non-drinker and drinker ratio but in the end we spent about 1/3 or 1/4 of what we would have had to spend had we gone with the catering company…AND we used the same products or better as they would have provided

Post # 10
19 posts
  • Wedding: September 2009

Hi Sonoma Bride!

I am getting married at V. Sattui in St. Helena right in the Napa Valley and also have a guest count of 120.  I was shocked by the catering and rental expenses which were outrageous but found Grapevine, an amazing, younger catering company that is less expensive, more willing to accommodate specific requests, cooks all the food onsite and had the most amazing dishes we have ever tasted (go with the meyer lemon aioli crab cakes with caviar- to die for!).  With them we came out just a bit over $10,000 including rentals! Part of this is because they don’t charge all the hidden service charges that other companies did.  Because they were so reasonable we were able to spring for some rental upgrades from Classic, including the twig silverware, which is just amazing!  In short, they blew us away and I would really recommend them.  They have won a lot of awards for their food so they have the cred that makes any bride happy!  Good lcuk and do check out Grapevine, Jennifer is wonderful!


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