(Closed) eeeeeek! MAJOR sticker shock on catering quotes!

posted 11 years ago in Money
Post # 17
4566 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

That… actually sounds like a pretty good price. I know that ours is going to be substantially more because it’s the one of the most important things to us. People always remember how good the food is, and we both LOVE food. That and centerpieces. And photography. Those are our three most important things, and we plan on spending on them accordingly.

Post # 18
3761 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

We just found a great deal going with a meat market / gourmet shop.  They do $30 pp including dishes, service, etc.   Try to think outside the traditional caterers. 

For 175 people in central FL we are expecting to pay about $6,500 total (food, service, gratuity, etc) for appetizers, dinner, and table wear.  So it doesn’t sound like the quote is too far off.

One other thing we found with several caterers was that they did not allow us to supplement the food they provided.  It was 100% their food.  The reason being that they do not want to get in trouble if someone gets sick, etc off of your mom’s potato salad (I’m sure they won’t but you get the point).  Also, they have a repuation to uphold and they do not want guests to think that they made the potato salad that tastes bad (again, not true, just the example here).

What about seeing if you can provide your own appetizers and do platters from the grocery store?

Post # 19
2204 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

We has 140 guests and paid about what your estimate was, without having to rentany linenes, silverware, dishes.  And I got married in the suburbs!

I think unless you’re willing to go with plasticware, or purchase your linens, etc second hand you can’t get much cheaper.

Sticker shock is a hard think to deal with at first, especially when the money seems like it won’t stretch, but I would consider a different game plan for food if you want to keep your guest list (tone down the food–do a simple pasta or just appetizers). 

Post # 20
162 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

Yeah…hate to say it, but I also agree, particularly for the Bay area that sounds like it would be on the cheaper end of things.  I’m sure you could find even cheaper, but it would take some work and I think the majority of caterers there would be even more.

Post # 21
687 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

I live in the bay area. Smile  Does that figure include drinks?

Is changing venues an option or something you’d even be willing to consider? You could do a restaurant reception here which would cost less since they already have the set-up, china, linens, etc.

Also, when you got your quotes from the vendors, did you give them your budget? It seems like many caterers are willing to work with you if you tell them what the max you can spend is. Also, generally a gratuity and service charge are the same thing, so if they’re adding both to your quote then I would question that.

Have you considered doing heavy appetizers rather than a buffet? Have you looked into the cost of buying your own linens and tablewear and then later reselling them (or keeping them)?


Post # 22
687 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

By The Way, Wedgewood does all-inclusive weddings in different parts of the bay area (includes ceremony, DJ, buffet, bar options, etc.) and there are some other locations that do similar things. I would check the Bay Area board if you haven’t already.

Post # 23
330 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2010

I suggest avoiding having guests help out, if possible. Also, hiring college students can be risky – they’re not always reliable/professional/etc.  Though I have seen it work. 

As others have said, try to get quotes for just the food & check with separate rental companies for pricing on non-food items. 

Also, you could try looking into ethnic foods… I did an event where we had a local mexican restaurant cater for a great deal…. If it’s summertime, what about BBQ?  There are caterers who will come out with a ginormous BBQ grill and do chicken, steak, shrimp, etc.

Does the quote include alcohol?  Sometimes you can lower the cost by purchasing your own alcohol or doing a limited open bar – beer/wine/signature cocktail or 2. (For that same mexican fiesta – we had practically a vat of sangria, a few margarita flavors and a few types of mexican beers). 

You could also do a lunch rather than dinner.  Or brunch.  Or plan for an off-time where people won’t expect a full meal & just do a heavy rotation of passed apps with a few stations (i.e. cheese & fruit)

Finally – often, people assume that a buffet is the cheapest way to go – and many times it’s not.  Caterers have to really guesstimate on how much people are going to eat & go with the over rather than the under.  Can’t hurt to ask what the cost for a plated dinner would be. 


Post # 24
59 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

Try Elizabeth Rupp of Tri-Valley Personal Chefs.  She’s in Livermore, and she will likely be catering our wedding out in Marin (amazingly enough, with no travel charge, even though it’s over an hour away).  She’s been fantastic to work with so far with prompt, detailed responses and nothing but professional.  I was ready to give up with finding an affordable caterer, but she’s been amazing.  No travel fees, cake cutting fees, or anything like that.  I gave her a budget, and she came up with 3 proposed menus within 24 hours.  We went to a tasting the other day, and the food was really good.  It wasn’t a foodie’s dream come true by any means, but I am on the pickier side when it comes to food quality, and I couldn’t complain. 

The most amazing thing is that by comparison to everyone else, she’s CHEAP!  We asked her for the price of the following menu: fresh fruit and cheese/cracker platters for appetizers (which she is willing to deliver to our separate ceremony site for no additional charge), salad, marinated tri-tip with au jus, grilled & sliced chicken breast with a garlic chardonnay sauce, 2 types of vegetarian quiche, pasta, and assorted breads. It will cost us $27.15 per person for 150, which includes tax, service, plates, water glasses/carafes, and silverware.  At our tasting, she gave us multiple options, including adding a bartender for $130 (we supply all drinks), and tons of really practical advice.  The one thing she doesn’t supply are table linens (but for the buffet), but she offers to extend her 10% discount with the company she uses and pick up/drop off for you at no additional charge. 

I’m certainly no expert at these things, but my fiance used to work for Hornblower as part of their event staff when he was in college, and he was impressed with her knowledge of how to run an event.  I liked that she was really flexible but at the same time, very cognizant of what her company’s limitations were and provides explanations of why something isn’t doable. 

Oh, and perhaps the best part?  No deposit!  You sign a contract agreeing to pay a $250 cancellation fee, and that’s it.  Payment isn’t even due until a week before the wedding, the same time as the final head count.

Hope this helps!  The other way to do it for cheap is ethnic, and the Bay Area is full of possibilities . . .

Post # 25
2767 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

That quote is probably pretty decent for LA.  I paid 4,000 for 100 people but I’m in the middle of nowhere, MN.

Post # 27
1 posts
  • Wedding: June 2010

I found the perfect spot for my wedding, and in my price includes chairs,furniture linens, staff, set up break down etc. and if i choose a recomended catere i get a discount. So its all in the location and the style of wedding, mine us rustic antique country vintage, so its at a bed and breakfast that also does weddings, my budget is small so i got creative on a lot of things without cutting anything. Your venue counts for more then a look, so get the most out of it as possible. I’m just getting heavy appatizers thats it, and if your guest care about you, you shouldnt have to give a fancy meal, just get what you can afford.

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