Post # 1
I’m trying to find ways to cut down my catering costs for our tented reception buffet at the end of August (I know I know, this should all be booked by now and I’m slacking!) I just got a quote from my top pick caterer and it came out to be wayyyyy over budget (like $2000 over budget!)
The price includes all of the rental equipment (glasses, silverware, napkins, chairs, etc) except the tent and the dance floor.
My question is where else can I cut down on costs? I’m already planning on doing my own appetizers, dessert buffet, and bar… so the quote didn’t include any of that other stuff.
They are charging me an extra $2.50 a plate plus an extra $600 for the labor cost of two chefs to come to the house and use the kitchen to cook the food on site rather than make it at their place and bus it in using hot boxes.
This looks like a good place to trim almost $1000 off the bottom line but will my food be all soggy and luke warm?
Will everything just be sitting around in chaffing dishes during the ceremony and cocktail hour?… ending up atleast 2or 3 hours old before anyone eats?
Has anyone had experience having precooked food brought to a wedding? Did you notice a differance in quality? Is it the norm to have the caterer cook (or atleast finish cooking) the food on site or to bring it in already cooked?
Post # 3
We are having a lot of prepared food brought in ready-to-go because our venue doesn’t have much of a kitchen. However, the cost difference isn’t huge—check to see what happens if there isn’t an extra chef there. If they still need the extra body based on the number of people to serve, they may just add another server instead, and with our caterer the rate differential between the two wasn’t huge.
I think it is the norm to prepare or finish food on site. Because of our not-exactly-a-kitchen situation, we had a couple of caterers specifically say they could not do certain dishes on their menus at our venue because they simply wouldn’t turn out well. It’s also possible that they will not consider taking off a chef an option, and will simply say no thanks to the event—so I would call them and tell them upfront that you need to identify a way to bring their bid into your budget, and let them suggest where to cut back. We did this with two different caterers and had very positive responses—they were happy to work with us, and had good strategies for cutting costs while keeping the basics of the event intact.
The extra plate charge seems odd—I would confirm that it’s really for the extra chef and not just for different types of food that the chef is making. I haven’t heard of linking plate charges to staff, since you typically pay hourly for staff anyway.
If you do decide to have prepared food brought in, you can also adjust your menu accordingly. We went with lots of cold dishes that would travel well, and eliminated salads that our caterer thought wouldn’t sit well for the couple of hours, etc. Lots of solutions out there—good luck!
Post # 4
Thanks for your suggestions.
I’m thinking about going with a new caterer now, one that is much closer to our venue (that way if we go the route of getting the premade food brought in we’ll save a little bit of travel time) and will probably be alot cheaper because it doesnt have the “award winning” status of the first one.
I was a little suspicious of the cost increase per plate too, because they are also adding $400 for the cost of labor of the two chefs to cook it on site. So why charge extra on top of extra?
I have a sneaky feeling that the first quote i got was the normal price because i said i was planning a “function”, and then once I mentioned the word “wedding” they upped the price.
Post # 5
If the caterer is reputable, the food will not be soggy or overcooked if prepared in their own kitchen. Many reception venues do not have adequate kitchens for preparing food on-site.
Post # 6
My venue didn’t have a kitchen so all the food was precooked and DELICIOUS. We are still getting compliments on our wedding food… esp the cake. That was included in our catering contract and it was amazing.
Good luck !