It’s been awhile since I’ve done a wedding post that isn’t craft related so I figured I would talk about what everyone remembers from a wedding.
As I mentioned in my post about venues, you should make sure to ask about catering before booking a venue.
Now I already had spent so much time searching through hundreds of vendors for venues and photographers so I was actually relieved to see our venue had a list of caterers we were required to choose from.
The craziest part about this list is how versatile it was. It went from Hoggys- a chain BBQ joint that’s around $15-20 per person to some premiere caterers that quoted me at $500 per head MINIMUM.
Yes. You read that right.
Now for some people the sky is the limit so you go ahead and book that $500 min per person caterer. Me on the other hand? I’m on a mission to plan this wedding for under $15k.
So first you need to decide what type of cuisine. As I mentioned previously, we are doing a carnival theme so I wanted to choose fun foods.
In the beginning I was set on doing the popular theme of food stations. They sound really cool. However in the end you might realize they cost more because someone has to run the station. It also can create a mess if people are lining up in different directions.
Our venue was actually going to allow us to bring food trucks in which I also was into until I realized the chaos.
People will be spending time standing in line and there’s minimal options. I have seen a solution for the line length though and that is to either hire two food trucks or have them make several portions at a time to set out on a table beside the truck so people can grab and go.
Price was another factor. Food trucks run about 3k and I felt like people would still be left hungry.
So back to the list of caterers. Like I said, I knew the theme and semi had an idea of what I wanted so I went through each caterer to determine who offered what we needed. That being said, if you are looking for something specific and you don’t seeit, ASK! Just because it’s not on the menu doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
So my goal here was to stick to under $7k for food. Thankfully I ended up being way under and I’m sure everyone will love it but now I’m getting ahead of myself.
With this budget I was able to narrow it down to four caterers.
Then comes the fun part. Tastings! People always told me not to eat beforehand but man were they not kidding. I’ve never seen so much food.
This is when they are trying to win your business so they are going to wine and dine you like no other.
Three of the four caterers did not charge us for a tasting. The one that did charge us ended up being credited to our overall bill for the wedding because we booked with them.
I know this is when they are trying to earn your business but you shouldn’t necessarily be turned off by paying for a tasting. Often times they had servers waiting on us so we ended up tipping them the same amount we would’ve paid anyway.
We had a fee of $50 for ours and could add additional servings for a price if we wanted to bring family or friends along.
We have it easy since we are funding this mostly on our own we don’t really have to care about anyone else’s input on decisions. – something else to consider
What to expect at a tasting? Besides a ton of food I can’t really say. Each one we went to was vastly different. I established with each one what items we were interested in beforehand and they put together a menu from there.
The first was most impressive quantity wise, they made all 20 items I was interested in and everything to go along with them. There was seriously a banquet table full of food for just the two of us and they also gave us a bottle of wine! Before we came in they suggested we tip the waiter but there was no fee for the tasting.
Our second was pretty fancy! We didn’t have to pay here but I had a ton of frustration in even getting in for the tasting that I was too annoyed to enjoy it. They did have the best chicken wings I’ve ever had and the rest of the food was good. They set us up in a private dining room and brought about 5 options out for us to taste.
Why was I annoyed? They cancelled on me THREE times before we went in at the last minute EVERYtime. Are you going to do this to me on my wedding day? – no.
Anyway Mark still wanted to go for free food and we did. Then when we went to tip the guy actually tried to convince us to double the tip to distribute evenly amongst his staff…okay…..Mark was pretty upset then but again, the food was excellent so they were still in the running.
The third. This was by far the best and most personable experience. Even beforehand I had immediate responses to my questions and they really understood what we were going for and our budget.
We sat in a cute little room with the woman who was assigned to our wedding. She was awesome. It was awesome. I wish everyone could work with her. They brought the food out all at once and she would discuss serving options as we stuffed our faces. I really liked this because the others kind of had a “we can do whatever” mentality. I’m a planner so I like detail!
In the end we tried to tip them and she refused to take it – because she was “just doing her job”.
That was it. The deal breaker. Mark was amazed at her generousity compared to the last place and we went ahead and booked without leaving the parking lot. Meaning we canceled our final tasting.
So tip or no tip? Offer one and you’ll see what kind of people you’re working with.
You’ll also want to find out some things such as if they supply linens, dinner ware options, gratuity included etc.
One thing I think isn’t mentioned enough is the timeline as to when you need your guest count by. We have to have our guest count 30 days prior to the event which means that our bill estimate could be lower depending on our RSVP rate which we might secretly be hoping for. You don’t want to pay for hundreds of people if they aren’t planning on showing up.
Another suggestion to look into? Discounts. The caterer we wenteith procided $200 off if we booked by a certain day. I took advantage of it and it allowed us to be able to afford to add grilled cheese and tomato soup shooters to our menu which were Marks favorite. Seriously he still mentions them on a regular basis.
So good luck in your search and remember there’s never too many questions! It’s your day so aim for what you want!
I posted this already but here’s the deliciousness which awaits us. Only our late night snack is missing because sometimes we all need a little surprise in life.