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Sarah
Curious September 2021 Ontario

Catering question from a novice

Sarah, on June 15, 2020 at 00:07 Posted in Wedding reception 0 14
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Hi all! My fiancé and I are in the beginning stages of wedding planning. We're having a small ceremony/reception of 50 guests max. We're getting married in SW Ontario (near London) next September.



I have started to reach out to vendors for some quotes. There's one who weren't seriously considering - food looks wonderful, great reviews, prompt and helpful responses. When they initially asked me what my budget was, I let them know that I'd like to keep it to $75/plate. The provided me with a quote of just under $6700, which includes hors d'oeuvres, 3 course meal (played), late night snacks, 2 chefs, 2 servers, 2 bartenders, and rentals (linens, flatware, curlers, glassware). We will be providing our own alcohol for the bar.
Anyway, am I being ripped off? Or is this a good price for what I'm getting, with the size of my wedding?
I can provide more details if that helps!

14 Comments

Latest activity by Sarah, on June 18, 2020 at 17:07
  • Sarah
    Curious September 2021 Ontario
    Sarah ·
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    Good to know! Thanks so much again, you've been so helpful!

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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    No, you're better off getting your own alcohol. If you're only doing beer, wine and cocktails, you can definitely maximize that dollar to go further. I'm paying my venue $6000+ tax and gratuity for an open bar, which covers things like whiskey (which some people will have) and peach schnapps (which no one I know will have lol) and I know for a fact that half of my guest list won't drink their worth. But a cash or host bar is too cumbersome for us.


    Just make sure to ask the venue if you need to procure your own Special Occasion Permit.

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  • Sarah
    Curious September 2021 Ontario
    Sarah ·
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    Thanks again for all of your insight, I really appreciate it! Should I be concerned that this price does not include the alcohol? Caterer told me that we would provide our own, which I'm okay with because whatever we don't use can be returned. We are planning on serving beer, wine, and cocktails.

    There is a nominal fee for hall staff to set up any of the items we choose to use; this is something I will consider for sure.

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  • Sarah
    Curious September 2021 Ontario
    Sarah ·
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    Thanks for your reply, Vinod!

    General consensus is that the price is fair, so that brings me comfort! I will definitely ask if gratuity is included. This is what we have decided on for our menu:

    - 3 hors d'oeuvres for cocktail hour

    - 3 course meal (salad for starter; choice of tenderloin, salmon, or vegetarian for entree; dessert )

    - Late night snack (2 options)

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  • Vinod
    Featured August 2017 Ontario
    Vinod ·
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    Your budget per person sounds reasonable and the quote provided for what is being offered seems fair for the price of hiring staff and bartenders certified separately. The cost per person being $134 isn't bad and the rentals included is excellent considering that does add up easily too separately.

    Ask if the gratuity is included in the price so you don't have to pay more tip over the amount. Food tasting and menu options would be good to be good questions to know what they offer.

    Compare with other companies given the same deal and if they don't come close, this company seems to give the best deal so far.

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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    The price sounds fair for a steak and salmon option, maybe on the high side of average. Typical GTA prices for those entrees in a three course meal + hors d'oeuvres and bar is $125+. Once you factor in the labour, additional food for late night, all the supplies you're using from them instead of the hall, plus travel (you said near London and not London itself, so I'm guessing you're in a smaller town in the area), it sounds more or less what a typical price for wedding food. That being said, your vegetarian price is definitely on the high side but who knows, maybe you won't have vegetarian guests!


    If you got the linens, glassware, and utensils from the hall, would they set it up for you as part of your rental fee? Normally they would. I know you said you'd rather get everything from one group but you're at the hall regardless, and if their staff is ready to work, might as well use it.


    Unless you're only serving bottled beer and wine, I wouldn't skimp on the bartenders. If you're serving mixed drinks and cocktails, lineups could get long and if I'm at the back who just wanted a bottle of beer, I'd get antsy.

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  • Sarah
    Curious September 2021 Ontario
    Sarah ·
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    Hey Stephanie, I appreciate your reply!

    I will definitely double check to see if gratuity is included in this price and ask about the bartenders.

    Nope, just asked me what my budget was per person! The menu is quite customizable, but no costs were listed per item like I've seen other vendors do. Maybe the numbers will change a bit once everything is set in stone - but it sounds like I need to confirm with the chef about price per entree option. Just feels like right now they heard $75/pp and that was it.
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  • Stephanie
    Master July 2018 Alberta
    Stephanie ·
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    That seems reasonable to me. I would double check that it includes the gratuity because every quote I got had taxes and gratuity included. I would also ask if 2 bartenders are needed for 50 people. Most places I looked at had 1 bartender per 50 people.

    Did they give you options for other entrees at a lower cost? It sounds like they asked you your budget and then gave you that price--did they have any listings of cost? Our venue had three meal options at different costs, so we could see the difference between the menus.

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  • Amelia
    Master October 2020 New Brunswick
    Amelia ·
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    Ahhh I see what you mean. The venue were using I'm familiar with through work and we get a price per option for sure. When we create our work party budgets we always pretend that everyone gets the most expensive entree and drinks so that we over budget rather than under budget.


    You could ask them for a break down of the cost of other entrees, maybe fib and say you're thinking of other options?
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  • Sarah
    Curious September 2021 Ontario
    Sarah ·
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    Hi Amelia, thanks for responding!

    I haven't looked into hiring separate bar staff yet but will explore this option. In terms of rentals, the hall also provides linens, flatware/glassware/cutlery/etc but I kind of like the idea of everything coming from the same vendor, just for continuity and convenience. So I guess I'm paying for that, which is fine!

    I think what is throwing me off a bit is that I was expecting there to be different price points for different items on the menu (we chose salmon, a mushroom tart for veg option, and tenderloin for our entrees), but on the mock-up invoice, the caterer just said $75 x 50 for menu; another vendor I was talking with before had the exact price of each menu item so it was easier to gauge how much we were spending. Maybe this will change once the menu is set in stone and he will provide me with prices per item. I think I also expected the late night snacks to be included in the $75/plate, but again, I don't really know what I'm doing haha.

    I don't really know why I'm fixating on the price so much because I know we can afford it, I just don't want to be taken advantage of because I an new and naive to all of this, you know?

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  • Amelia
    Master October 2020 New Brunswick
    Amelia ·
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    It's over your budget but seems to include a lot of bonuses. Had you looked into the cost of hiring separate bar staff, or renting the linens/glassware etc.? Of so does this match up with those quotes added to your original $75 budget?
    It might be nice to have one company do it all so you don't need to try to wrangle several different vendors, sometimes the extra cost that saves you time and energy is worth it. Even the reviews and the prompt response sounds like they will be worthwhile!
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  • Sarah
    Curious September 2021 Ontario
    Sarah ·
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    Thanks for your reply!


    We have three entree options: salmon, striploin, and veg. #6700 includes tax, but I don't think gratuity. It's an external caterer that we are bringing to our venue (town hall).
    I'm not necessarily displeased with the quote, just want to get an idea if this is a fair price. I gave the caterer a $75/plate max and on the mock-up invoice for food, it just says $75 x 50 - I guess I was assuming that the different entrees would vary in price and not automatically just come to $75/plate because I said that was my budget. Does that make sense?
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  • Sarah
    Curious September 2021 Ontario
    Sarah ·
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    Thanks for you reply!


    We have three options for entree: salmon, striploin, and beg
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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    Hey Sarah, without fully knowing what the menu choices are, that price sounds reasonable considering all the labour you need. If your entree is a decent cut of beef or seafood, then it's about right but if what you're getting is burgers, chicken, and tacos, then it's on the pricey side. Is the $6700 including tax and gratuity?


    Is this quote based on a venue's caterer or is this external catering that you're bringing to a bare bones venue?

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