(Closed) Help!! How to get caterer’s contract Down-negotiating tomorrow!

posted 9 years ago in Food
Post # 3
1565 posts
Bumble bee

Just curious – did your caterer say you can bring in your own liquor, linens, etc? Often they make their profits on higher-margin elements, so it’s an all-or-nothing deal. This was my experience at least. Also, the bar amount seems very reasonable compared to all-inclusive estimates I got. 

We personally went for an all inclusive package at a really nice venue and got prices down by using a place with good Sunday discounts. 

Post # 4
4485 posts
Honey bee

Do you really need 3 desserts? Will guests be happy with just one? Limit your cocktail appetizers to 3-4 different selections max, either passed or on platters. If you have a DOC already, do you really need an event captain? Especially if they are doing the same job? Also, what is a sanitation manager for that can’t be taken care of by other staff?

Check with your local laws (every state is different on what they allow and what they don’t) but you may be able to pick up sodas, alcohol, ice, etc at Costco. But before you decide on that, check to see if they charge a fee to pour what you have brought in yourself. Some vendors actually do charge extra. Also, if there is any liquor you want to serve that Costco doesn’t carry, you may be able to find it at a local grocery or liquor store cheaper than through your caterer. You have to shop around and get price quotes before you decide.

Let him know exactly how much you are able to spend and ask what he can offer in that price range without going over budget. Any vendor worth their salt will have no issues complying with that request. Be firm about what you want, what you don’t and what you can afford vs what you can’t.

Post # 5
2394 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

I’m also in NYC and I gotta say, that sounds like a pretty reasonable estimate to me.

We were able to reduce our catering bottom line by providing our own alcohol and reducing the number of passed hors d’oeuvres available during the cocktail hour.

The sanitation manager, btw, is no joke.  Cleaning up after 80 people in an complying with the NYC waste management codes is tricky, and leaving the loft in less than spotless condition is likely to result in your being charged far more than he’s being paid.

Post # 6
4464 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I have to say, that sounds pretty reasonable to me.  Leaving out your site fee (not sure what that is), that only comes out to ~$50/person.  My wedding is in upstate NY and we’re at ~$85 person for venue, food, drinks, etc. and that doesn’t include cake!

Post # 7
6661 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2010

Well, I would recommend figuring out what is most important to you. I told my florist I absolutely had to have our boquets, centerpieces, corsages for the mothers and alter arrangements, but linens, chair rentals, lighting upgrade, pew ends etc. were not necessary and to make them ‘extras’.

Unfortunately once vendors hear it’s for a wedding, especially in June on a Saturday! Suddenly everything is twice as expensive. My sisters limo driver even offered to give her half off the next time she hired him and she said “Oh, perfect my sister is getting married in June” And he was quick to take it back. “Oh well I didnt’ mean it for a wedding. Anything but a wedding I’ll give you 1/2 off”.

Post # 8
4485 posts
Honey bee

@moderndaisy, then people wonder why so many vendors are shady. Why can’t they abide by the first offer they give? Seriously though, using the limo as an example, there is nothing out the ordinary that they do different for a wedding than they do for a prom or taking someone to the airport. The same applies for any other vendor who jacks up their prices simply because it’s a wedding rather than a party.

Post # 10
1580 posts
Bumble bee

I’ll just chime in a say the beverage/alcohol fee sounds like a steal to me! That’s only $18 per person.

You can probably save the most money by limiting the hors d’oeuvres- those things are seriously expensive! You could ask him to do a display instead of passed hors d’oeuvres to reduce the number of waiterns needed. And maybe only having one dessert.

I’d be straight up with him and tell him that you started talking about a budget of $8000 and ask him how you can get closer to that number.

Post # 11
605 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2010 - Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

when i first started researching caterers in NYC, i was absolutely blown away by the high prices.  i was getting estimates for 60 people that were around $10-12K. so i know your pain.

definitely see if you can bring your own alcohol, and whether they’ll allow you to hire someone just to serve it.  some businesses are pretty strict about that though, because they do get such good profit margins from that.  or maybe go for a limited bar?

i would just try asking them how they could cut down the cost. like–this is over budget for us, do you have any ways to cut the costs or any suggestions? cutting down the hors and desserts is a great idea, as well.

i’m not a big DIY kinda gal, so honestly the thought of getting my own linens and other stuff piecemeal wouldn’t work–plus those costs add up as well! (delivery, tax, your time, blood sweat and tears coordinating the moving parts, etc.)  but if it would save a bundle, it’s definitely a good consideration!

Post # 12
399 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

I feel your pain.  Before we settled on our venue (which did its own catering) I got a few quotes from caterers.  They were quoting more than our entire budget just for food!  I have to admit I kind of freaked out.

My brother in law is a caterer and he would be happy to work with you to keep things within your budget.  I think if you ask your caterer what he might do to pare things down to $8,000, he will give you a new quote.  Be prepared to have it be different from what you are looking at now. Buffet cuts down on the number of waiters needed, so if you are not set on family style, that might be another option.  And if he is unable to meet your budget, he should just say so up front.

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