Post # 1
We are hoping to do a Saturday evening buyout for our ceremony and reception in a nice restaurant in a large-ish east coast city. Our guest list has 60-80 people. We are willing to spend a larger percentage of our budget on really high quality food/drink/venue because that’s what’s most important to us. We’ve started to talk to a few places, but we haven’t really gotten any pricing estimates until we meet in person (next week).
However, one place that we really like told us that their food/beverage minimum is $15k plus tax and gratuity (27%, meaning $19k). Their capacity is just about the size of our list, so this price does not reflect any excess in venue size. We were a little shocked by this. We had thought a restaurant buyout would save some money (and stress) because we wouldn’t have to do any rentals / decorations. However, maybe this pricing is normal? We understand that they need to make back a whole evening’s worth of meals, which is probably equivalent to their capacity times 3 or 4. But this particular restaurant is not even particularly fancy or expensive compared to some of our other choices.
What kinds of rates have you guys seen? Is this pretty standard, or out of left field?
Post # 3
I’m not sure how you would save money because if you take the restaurant for the whole evening, your guests only fill those seats for ONE “round” of food and drink, but if the restaurant had regular patrons, they might be able to get in 3 “rounds” of people (eg, those who eat at 5, 6:30, and 8 pm, etc) who all buy a full dinner of food and drink.
That’s just a guess.
Post # 4
That seems outlandish to me! We did just that for our rehearsal dinner and it wasn’t nearly that much. For the sake of comparison, the restaurant was in Old San Juan in PR and very close to the cruise port (so a little touristy/pricey) and we had 80 guests. Everything was ~$4500 (including tax and tip). A couple of things contributed to the low cost, like the fact that it was on a Friday, it started at 8pm (so the restaurant was open to the public until ~7pm) and it only lasted about 2.5 hours (so the bar wasn’t open for too long). I would think even twice that amount would be reasonable for a longer event like a reception, but $19K sounds insane. Don’t be discouraged; I think you can find a better deal at another restaurant!
Post # 5
@red_rose: This, exactly.
Your quote of $19,000 for 80 people = $237.50 pp
If they didn’t book you, they’d turn the tables 3, maybe even 4 times. 80 people x 4 turns = 320 people. $19k divided by 320 people = $59 pp. Which could very well be a close estimate to their average check per person if they didn’t shut down for your party. You know?
Post # 6
That sounds a bit high for 60-80 people. Just to give you an idea for places here in Toronto:
One place that I contacted with a capacity of 145 has a 12k buyout on a Saturday (lunch, don’t allow dinner), Sunday 8k.
Another place that I contacted told me their Saturday buyout is 30k during high season. To me it’s not worth it since this particular place was too big, max capacity is 200.
Plus taxes (13%) and gratuities (15-20%) for both.
Hopefully some of the other places that you’re in contact with come up with better pricing!
Post # 7
East coast city
the fact that they won’t be able to turn the tables around as much as their regular business
possibly hiring more staff (bartenders/servers) to give you the real at-your-every-beck-and-call wedding experience
a Saturday evening where restaurants make their most business of the week (especially in the summer)
$$$ You’re going to have shell out a lot of money.
Changing the location (i.e. another restaurant in the suburbs or even another city), the date (not a Saturday), the time would all contribute to lowering the cost.
Post # 8
I looked into doing this at some of the nicer restaurants in Columbus Ohio and was quoted a $20,000 minimum so I guess this is normal. I was surprised too and thought it would be cheaper.
Post # 9
Yeah, as I said, I do realize that they need to cover several seatings for the evening. This place is new and very popular, so I guess it’s not totally surprising that they expect to be completely full for the whole night were we not to hold our event. Their seated indoor capacity is actually only 60, so their quote would be equivalent to 4 completely full seatings at $80 per person. Their menu is not that expensive; I think it would be quite a challenge for evey single diner to rack up an $80 bill. But then, they also have a bar area, etc. They have hosted other weddings, so obviously people are willing to pay this amount.
Thanks for the other comparisons! They all sound more in line with what I was expecting. Hopefully our other quotes will be similar to your experiences.
Post # 10
Get more quotes from other restaurants. One data point does not a statistic make.
For our rehearsal dinner, we rented out a private lounge at a sushi place for 35 people (high end in the most expensive area of San Diego, CA on the water) and even with an open bar, only paid $3000. If you have double the guest list, you can surely find something $10,000 or less.
Post # 11
Why don’t you have it at a restaurant that can accomodate you in their private rooms? We had ours at a restaurant, but used their private room. We had 53 people, but it can hold up to 80.
Post # 12
Just wanted to add an update to this thread, in case anyone else is looking for similar information. We got food/beverage minimums from two other nice restaurants in our city, one of which is also $15k + tax and gratuity (so ~$19k), and a second which is $12k including tax and gratuity. We were definitely relieved to find this less expensive option. We are planning to meet with 5-6 more restaurants in the next few weeks, so hopefully by then we’ll have a better idea of the standard range. Thanks again for your help and comments!