Comparing Apples to Apples...or filet to chicken
In last week's post, we provided you with ranges for catering contracts that we're seeing in the Baltimore/Harford County areas. We listed $25-$120 per person being the average cost. For a wedding of 130 guests, that range is from $3,250-$15,600, not including tax and gratuity. Huge range, right? Well, more often we see costs between $60 and $90 a person. With that said, we often have couples on a budget who come to us and say, "I have a friend who got their caterer for $18 a person! So, I don't understand why I'm getting quotes for $75 a person!" And this is what we say to that couple....
"WHAT IS INCLUDED?"
For example, a bride may get a quote for $18 a person, but by the time you add the $30 per person for open bar, the $7 per person cake and $3500 room rental fee, you're not getting any more than a bride who is offered $70 a person for food, bar and rental fee included or $75 a person that includes the cake!
So, moral of the story- be sure to include the following when comparing catering proposals:
-Room/Venue Rental Fees
-Tax: both food and beverage!
-Menu Choices: including quality of food, amount of courses/options, any upcharges for more than 1 option, number of hors d'oeuvres, dessert options
-Bar Options: limited or open, rail or premium
-Cake Cutting Fees
-Service Fees: including bartenders, servers, carvers, shuckers, event managers etc.
-Cook Truck Fees
-Presentation of Food/Bar: signature drink display, food and drink display and presentation options
-Decor: including table linen options, charger plates, chair styles, napkins, tables, stemware, china, flatware, lighting, furniture and draping
-Type of Dinner: seated, buffet or stations?
-Level of Waitstaff: uniform, professionalism, experience
-Bonus Options: overnight suite stay for bride/groom, valet parking, shuttle services, cake included, any music included, complimentary use of any technologies or extra spaces
-INSURANCE!!: Be sure to inquire if you will need to purchase insurance and if your caterer has insurance. Being liable is not worth a sub-par caterer for a cheap price.
-CONVENIENCE: This is one that is highly undervalued. You do not want to have to pick up your food from a local restaurant and hire wait staff. You also may not want to have to worry about how much liquor to purchase. Sometimes hiring someone to do it is worth your peace of mind and stress free experience.
And, most importantly, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CONTRACT! This contract is absolutely vital to the success of your wedding and is for your (and their!) protection. Read over it carefully before you sign and make sure everything discussed is included.