(Closed) Is bringing in an outside caterer cheaper?

posted 9 years ago in Food
Post # 3
Member
4765 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2011 - Vintage Villas

I have definitely heard that bringing your own alcohol can save you a ton of money, but I’m unsure about the caterer. It probably all depends on how much the venue charges and what type of food you’re planning on having. 

Our venue has in-house catering, and from the research I’ve done we’re actually getting a pretty amazing deal on the food. I don’t know if this is true of all venues, though.

Post # 4
Member
4485 posts
Honey bee

You have to price both options and see which is more economical for you. As with anything else, there is no blanket statement either way that works for all situations everywhere.

Post # 5
Member
17 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: May 2018

I think it depends really on what you are looking for. We opted for our own caterer because we were set on having a certain caterer (and this was really important for us). But it was alot of work finding a venue that would allow an outside caterer so you may want to keep that in mind! We ended up looking at alot of public venues. We are saving ALOT on the alcohol since we are buying it wholesale and paying for the bartenders.

good luck!

Post # 6
Member
1347 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

Also, sometimes a venue might allow you to bring in an outside caterer instead of using in-house, but they might charge an exorbitant fee. The place we’re 99.9% sure of booking lets us bring in any licensed caterer, and serve our own beer and wine without hiring a bartender!

Post # 7
Member
253 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

It really depends.  The benefit of being able to choose your own caterer is that you can compare price and quality before selecting the caterer, whereas with venues that have exclusive caterers, you’re stuck with what they’ve chosen for you.  I think you can often get much better food for the price with an outside caterer because they have to work for their business.  However, you also want to make sure you get a caterer who is familiar with the venue and any quirks it might have — my venue, for example, doesn’t have a full kitchen and the set-up can be a little tricky, so I needed a caterer who had the experience and equipment to work with it.  Luckily, they also handle all the rentals for us, so we didn’t have any extra work to do as far as that goes.  With the exception of alcohol, where we will definitely save a lot by bringing our own, I think our reception cost will be comparable to a lot of the all-inclusive venues in the area, BUT we have exactly what we want.  We definitely could have done it more cheaply with a different caterer, though.

Post # 8
Member
820 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2009

I think it totally depends, but we saved money by doing this. We wanted a specific ethnic meal that our venue couldn’t provide, so we found an outside caterer and somehow managed to get them to let us bring him in (they don’t usually, but we said we’d go elsewhere otherwise). Well, his meal – which was better than the hotel’s- was a good chunk of change less than the hotels, and even moreso if you added the tax onto their meal. However, we did have to pay a “head count” charge to the hotel per person, that just covered the cost of bringing in an outside caterer or something. Even with that cost though, we still saved money! Check with your venue and caterer, I’m sure there are a million variations and options available, but it is definitely a possibility to save money doing this. 

Post # 9
Member
241 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

 Just like monalisa said it depends. I brought in an outside caterer, and it was not the cheapest option. When you bring in an outside caterer to a venue that does not already have a setup be prepared to pay for everything. My caterer has been great by not bogging me down with every detail, but every table cloth, every tray, every chair, every waiters salary I am paying for. All of those items get added up and divided by the amount of guests I am having. Unfortunately this venue is not a BYOB, but in my experience in when I was looking in Philadelphia the venues that are BYOB make up the costs in other ways like charging more for the space fee…Just to give you an idea of the costs.

These prices are listed per person including tax and gratuity:

Open bar 5 hours- $27

Staff(severs, chef, bartenders)- $48

Rental costs(silverware, plates..)- $22

Food- $73

 

I was most shocked at the cost of the staff, and the 18% gratuity and 7% tax really take a huge chunk out of the budget. Hope this helps.

 

 

 

Post # 10
Member
407 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

Bringing in your own alcohol can definitely be cheaper but you have to make sure that your venue doesn’t have a “corking fee” where they charge you a certain amount for every bottle they open. My friend had that and in the end, they actually opened bottles that no one drank, just to beef up the fee. It was a little ridiculous!

Post # 11
Member
510 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

I’m sure it depends on what type of outside catering you are going to have or where you choose your location, but for me hiring an outside caterer was DEFINITELY cheaper…even with the costs of hiring the staff seperately and the rentals…we saved TONS of money…just to give you a price comparison, most venues that included all costs (space, tables, chairs, linens, place settings, food, alcohol, cake etc) were between $65-150/pp…we had 235 guests attend our wedding…if we would have paid even the lowest cost it would have been $15,275 just for the reception…by hiring an outside caterer were were able to spend 8,742 for ALL of the above reception costs….almost half of what we would have spent for around the LOWEST price we were quoted.  So shop around, look for venues that only have outside catering…that’s what I did.  Then shop around for quality catering companies that have good prices…even restaurants usually have catering and they are alot cheaper than going with a catering company because their price for meals is usually b/t $10-25 whereas hotels for receptions charge you double that.

Post # 12
Member
3332 posts
Sugar bee

As other folks have said, it all depends on your venue.  I know our venue did not allow outside food/drink except our wedding cake (for which we got charged a per guest cake cutting fee).  For us, it made a lot of sense to find a venue that had everything we needed–food, drinks, linens, supplies, etc.  We were both really busy and on a budget, so I wanted to deal with as few vendors as possible.

For us, the main thing that saved money was keeping our guest list low–this way we saved on everything.  We also cut the cocktail hour, which saved a lot in appetizers and drinks.

Post # 13
Member
426 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

I’m going with an outside caterer, BUT my venue has no restrictions on catering.  Every other venue I looked at had catering on site or certain caterers you could only use at that venue.  The way we are saving the most is on alcohol.  Our caterer provides food (duh) and bar service.  We provide the booze.  Since my FI is in the military, booze is tax free!  This was obviously the more economical choice for us, but as someone else said, chairs, tables, etc. add up.  My caterer is a blessing and provides linens in the overall per person price.  SO I think what is most important is the caterer you choose for an outside caterer.

Post # 14
Member
12 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: August 2009

Don’t bring an outside caterer!  The food will be SO awful. We went to a wedding recently where they did this and the food was full of condensation when they opened the lids…it was totally gross. most of the plates went back not eaten.  It’s like the plates were just sitting in condensation.  I would totally recommend that the venue cook the food. Unless of course, the food is not where you want to invest the money into…

Post # 15
Member
253 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

Wow, papples, what a generalization.  Just because you went to a wedding with a bad caterer doesn’t mean that all outside caterers are bad.  And not all venues have on-site catering — my venue doesn’t, and I know of many others in my area that don’t, either.  To be honest, the food at most of the weddings I’ve been to with on-site catering was pretty lackluster (and in one case, downright gross) because they don’t need to compete with anyone to get the job.  The most important thing is just finding a caterer that does a good job and has lots of good referrals, not whether it’s an exclusive or an outside caterer.

Post # 16
Member
2681 posts
Sugar bee

It definitely depends on the venue, what they provide and what the caterer will provide.  Some venues are still going to charge you a per person rate and provide everything except the food (including staffing, china, etc).  Then you have the pay the outside caterer on top of that which is MUCH more expensive.  Look around and compare pricing between the outside caterers and in-house caterers before you decide, but Im gonna guess its cheaper to go with an in-house caterer the venue has.

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