Post # 1
We are considering three caterers and have a bit of a dilemma. They have each given us very different estimates for number of staff and hours it will take to cater our wedding. I don’t know who to believe and am wondering what you all think sounds reasonable.
A bit of background – our wedding will be a tented recption for approx. 250 people at 25 6ft round tables. We are having a family style meal so platters of food will be brought to each table and guest will serve themselves. We are also planning to have bottles of wine on each table for guests to serve themselves. Before dinner there will be a cocktail hour with passed appetizers.
So here are the bids we received for essentially the same menu:
Caterer #1: 21 staff – 2 “service captains” for 14 hours, 15 staff for 11 hours (includes 2 lead kitchen assistants, 8 passers/busers, 3 beverage attandants, and 2 bartenders), and 4 kitchen assistants for 6 hours.
Caterer #2: 13 staff for 6 hours. This includes 1 on-site supervisor, 1 head chef, 2 prep chefs, 6 servers, and 3 bartenders.
Caterer #3: 12 staff for approx. 12 hours. He did not provide a breakdown of the various roles. However, what I like about him is he charges a flat fee for labor instead of by the hour like the other two. So we know up front exactly how much we will be paying even if it takes more time than he expects.
Does anyone who had a similar size wedding have advice for which one sounds most reasonable? All three have good food although I like #2’s food the most. But I worry that she may be underestimating what it takes to pull off the event. Or is #1 over the top? I don’t mind paying to have everything run smoothly but don’t want to pay more just because they are throwing in extra people unnecessarily. Please help!
Post # 3
I think that caterer #2 has about what we had at our wedding.
I think we had the Chef/Owner, his wife, then somewhere between 3-6 servers/busser (I really can’t remember though but this seems about right). Additionally the venue provided 2 bartenders, 1 bar-back, and 1 site coordinator.
We were planning about 180 people with a buffet dinner.
We did a mix of passed and station food for the cocktail hour.
I think #1 sounds like a bit much on the bartending side. I can’t imagine why you would need 3 beverage attendants just to replace bottles of wine. How are you handling water? Are you having goblets on the tables that will need to be refilled or will guests get this from the bar?
Post # 4
Make sure there is a bar-back available to the bar-tenders (responsible for re-filling etc). At our event we had some really heavy beer drinkers plus it was really hot. They had trouble cooling the beer down fast enough to keep up with the demand. You don’t want your bartenders to have to stop serving people so that they can refill their ice buckets, etc.
Post # 5
@ caszos: Thanks! Good point about the bar-back – I didn’t even think of that. We were going to have water glasses on the tables so I guess they would need to be refilled or I considered having a water pitcher on each table so only that would need to be refilled once in a while.
Post # 6
I’m not quite sure what to recommend to you, but this is how our staff breaks down:
8 staff with One Captain/Event Coordinator, Two Bartenders, and 4
servers for event. Two additional staff added to help with food service times only.
Event Estimate from 7pm to 12:15am-bar service until midnight.
This is based on an approximate guest count of 130, with passed appetizers and a buffet.