The best questions to ask your caterer

How much will it cost for a reception? We get this question all the time. The question, though simple, has a complicated answer. There are a large # of variables involved in catering your reception and what you final cost would be.

1. Costs change based on things like guest count. Remember that your per person price when you have smaller guest counts will be larger because of fixed costs (delivery, rentals etc). So if you are looking at your budget as a per person price vs an overall budget, you should keep that in mind.

2. What type of service do you want? White glove? Plated meals? Buffet style? Cocktail reception? Stations? Some of these types require more staff than others. Think about what is ideal for you and ask about it. How much does an average buffet run with 2 entrees is a better question than a blanket, How much question.

3. Where are you having the reception? Do they have tables and chairs? Do you like the chairs? Do you hate the chairs enough to spend money renting different chairs or getting covers? Do you need chairs for an outdoor ceremony? It is difficult to take a guess without knowing some of that information. You want to know what you need up front so you can prepare for the cost if necessary.

4. When are you having it? Food costs change little throughout the year. You may get free mobile slots in your pocket venue discounts for off season, but your food essentially costs the same with a few exceptions. One example is seafood. Prices can vary greatly. Prices could change on an item like Sea Bass or even shrimp (think any disaster in the Gulf will affect prices on things like shrimp).

5. What food do you want to eat? Prime rib and lobster will cost a good deal more than chicken and pasta. So think about what is ideal for you and your group. Then the question of I really want prime rib and chicken rolitini, what is the average cost for that on a buffet? What meats can I substitute for the prime rib to make it within my budget?

6. Equipment – this includes the china, silverware, glassware and linen. But don’t forget it will also include chafers for a buffet, coffee set ups, table ware (bread baskets, salt and pepper shakers, cream and sugar sets). You have to consider your caterer is going to bring all of those things into the venue. This brings to mind the question of What equipment do you supply and possibly what can I do to keep equipment costs lower. You might be find with the really nice disposable-ware that is available.

The idea is to A. Consider the things you really want. B Consider what you are willing to give up or change. C Consider what you can spend overall. D Ask questions. We don’t mind.

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