(Closed) Full-service venue vs. budget catering

posted 8 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
2031 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

We are getting married in the Chicago area too and are going with a full service venue (actually a restaurant venue). I looked into doing everything separate but it seemed to be around the same cost if not more and a lot more work.  You have to spend thousands just for the venue.  With all in one venues often there is just a food minimum and not an additional charge for the space.  We live out of state and will have about 150 guests- an all in one venue made way more sense and I think it will make the reception run smoother too. 


Post # 4
1113 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@goblueca:  My Fiance and I choose to go with an all inclusive venue. It makes things SO much easier. The problem…there is really no wiggle room. The price is what the price is. Looking back, being we had an 18 month engagement I would have rather choose a venue where I could pick and choose everything to make it cheaper. We ended up cuting our guest list from 150 guest to 100 guest.

Post # 5
6592 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@goblueca:  I’ve have two weddings and done it both ways for a guest list of 60.  It was way less stressful to go with the restaurant over DIYing my own buffet.  While the restaurant took care of everything, I had to rent everything and hire a day of coordinator for my DIY buffet wedding at a cheaper venue.  All in all the cost of both events was about the same but in the end it was worth it to go with the full service restaurant venue.  Only thing I can say is to check the service charges and tips to make sure it won’t put you any more over.

Post # 6
572 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@goblueca:  I think it depends on what you want and what your skill set and budget are.  We ended up going with a more full-service option, largely because my parents loved that option and wanted to finance it. 

We probably would have gone piecemeal if we had to pay for it ourselves, but it would have been a ton more work.  You have to make a decision on every vendor, and hope they work together, or pay the additional expense of hiring a day-of coordinator.  I think having an a la carte option is better if you are going really budget, and have a lot of organizational skills and time to plan.  If you want something more traditionally wedding-y an all inclusive venue will definitely save you time and possibily money if they already have things you would otherwise have to bring in.

Post # 7
2202 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Wynn Las Vegas

For the ease alone I would pay for the full-service. Well, we did go the full service route at a restaurant. I was never stressed once, and everything turned out fantastic.

Post # 8
365 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

@goblueca:  I think 18k for 150 guests, housed, fed, boozed, served, provided restrooms, heat/AC, etc. is a good price. Then add in a dedicated wedding coordinator that I’m guessing comes with the deal & the support you get in that (priceless), and I think you’d be hard pressed to do better on your own, piecemealing it together.  If even you did a little better dollars & cents wise it would be a lot of headache & work.  I don’t see how your final DIY cost could less than the full service enough to make it worthwhile.  IF comparing apples to apples.  If you want to DIY an afternoon picnic at a park shelter with beans & rice then that’s a different story.

One tip (from someone that is going the piecemeal route, regretfully) is you must be VERY organized & strict managing your budget when dealing with so many multiple vendors & details.  It’s easier to keep an eye on it when at least the essentials are provided by one vendor on one bill.  Organization is not my strongest suit!  I definitely would have saved money getting married at a full service venue.  But lots of brides/grooms are the opposite & probably do very well managing their budget in a DIY scenario & probably get a thrill from it!  Maybe that’s you 🙂


Post # 10
2884 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@goblueca:  In my experience, getting a venue that allowed outside catering was much easier, and allowed for more customization.

I went with a venue that already had tables, chairs, & linens, plus they offered to let two of their staff members bus the tables at the wedding for $10 an hour each. Also, the venue allowed us to have the ceremony & reception at the same place. Our venue was also beautiful & perfectly in line with my style.

For out outside catering, we went to our favorite local restaurant & they allowed us to cater out dinner wedding with their lunch menu. We did soup, salad, & sandwiches, with red velvet sheet cake. It was really good & only 8.50pp!

We were able to stock our own bar for $7pp w/ bartender fee included (& we had a lot left over).

 In total, the whole reception including venue, decor, servers & bartenders, & catering cost is $3,500 for our 100 person wedding.

Post # 11
536 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@goblueca:  I think $120 a head for what you are getting is good. I understand both sides, as we are doing something similar in NYC, and it’s just crazy how difficult/expensive it can be to get everything put together. 

We decided to do the non-inclusive route, as we did not find anything that fit our needs that was inclusive at a price we deemed reasonable. We lucked out and picked a venue that already had some rentals, so it’s a little less than renting EVERYTHING, and we picked a CHEAP caterer. It’s still working out to about $100 per person for the reception with the venue rental, staff, catering, bar, and chairs.

It’s definitely more of a headache to do things piecemeal, but maybe totally worth it. 

Post # 12
1029 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

If you search the bee, you will find lots of budget wedding tips.  So many people do (big) weddings for under 10k by thinking outside the box.  My friend did a budget wedding for 120 guests.  She rented a beautiful hall that was city owned, and did very little decorating.  She ordered in ethnic food from a local restaurant and served it buffet style. Her cake was home-made from a relative.  Her dress was from China.  If you’re worried about the stress and hassle, you and your Fiance can plan everything but get a Day-of coordinator.  There are lots of caterers that will do setup for you, provide you with linens and a bartender.  If you’re not comfotable with spending 18,000k, don’t spend it, you can have a wonderful wedding for less.      

Post # 13
129 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - The Heathman Lodge (Vancouver)

We went will catering at the venue (the reason we picked the venue was mostly the food). It includes pretty much everything but the cake (which I WON at a bridal show).

The Diamond Package
· $1,500.00 site facility fee to include basic amenities
· Complimentary consultation with Lodge approved wedding coordinator with $750 consultant/planner
credit for services
· Use of ballroom for ceremony and separate ballroom for reception
· Complimentary rehearsal room evening prior
· Rehearsal dinner: Complimentary chefs choice of appetizer with catered dinner
· $5.00 corkage fee (Up to 24 bottles)
· Complimentary cake cutting fee
· Changing suites available for day of event
· Complimentary overnight in honeymoon suite night of reception
· Bottle of champagne and chocolates in honeymoon suite
· Guestroom block with discounted rates for out of town guests

Basic Amenities
· Custom menus prepared by your wedding coordinator & our chef
· Mirrored tile centerpieces with votive candles
· Dance Floor (21 x 21 Maximum)
· Complimentary parking
· Place Settings including China and silverware (stemware if desired)
· Set up, clean up and tear down of room
· Selection of linen colors

I added things up seperately, and with the rental space, rehearsal dinner, bartender fees, taxes and possible license/insurance fees, plus linens t, it made sense to do it as a package. Add in the consultant credit and its an amazing deal.

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