Leah Answers “Questions for my Caterer”

You may remember my post from last week in which I asked questions about catering as I try to plan my wedding. Leah has graciously answered them, and we hope that those of you planning a big event, be it a reception or an office get together, will find them helpful!

Q. Practically speaking, I need to determine an appropriate allotment for my budget. What percentage of my funds should I expect to go toward the food and beverages for my reception?

A. This is different for every bride based on what they find important and what they want to emphasize.  However, in any case the Lion’s share of the budget is going to end up with your caterer.  I would plan on 50 – 70% of your budget.

Q. I much prefer the idea of a full dinner for my guests, but would heavy appetizers be more cost effective?

A. For any caterer, small appetizers are much more time consuming and usually use a larger variety of specialty ingredients, therefore costing a significant amount more than a full dinner.  If you would like to cut costs somewhere, look at using a disposable dish versus one that must be rented, washed and returned.
Q. Will I need to inquire about per person costs versus per items costs with most caterers?

A. Most caterers will give you a price quote in the terms they tend to use.  Most full service caterers will offer a per person price automatically.  Generally a per person cost is a better way to go because your caterer will know better based on experience how much of each item to prepare for a crowd. 
Q. Are there any hidden costs I should be aware of that some caterers may try to sneak by me?

A. Be sure you know how much labor they are bringing and what kind of service they are guaranteeing you.  Also, be sure that any “catering fees” are fully explained
Q. I’m aware that most caterers are able to bring the appropriate number of plates and flatware – will they be open to listening to my personal preferences and style ideas for place settings?

A. They should be!  Be sure you express all of your personal preferences
Q. What are some budget friendly, yet tasty, entrees you would recommend for a reception?

A. Any type of pasta dish is usually budget friendly and has the added benefit of holding well in a chafing dish
Q. Which is more cost efficient: a buffet-style dinner or a seated dinner?

A. As a general rule, a buffet meal is always more cost effective
Q. If there’s a specific dish that I simply cannot envision my reception without, like my grandmother’s chicken and dumplings, would most caterers be open to an outside recipe?

A. Most caterers will be open to trying a new recipe.  They should at least be willing to let you try their version.  Know that using your recipe may cause a price increase because the ingredients may be of a different price point than they allow for as a general rule.
Q. I’ve fallen in love with this charming wedding venue but the catering facilities are abysmal – does that really make a difference to my caterer?

A. It may make a significant difference to your caterer.  Doesn’t make it impossible, but know that you may incur more catering fees due to the difficulty of the catering process.
Q. How in the world can you decorate a buffet table besides slapping a pretty table cloth on it?

A. Buffet tables can be “prettied up” by using special platters and serving pieces.  You can add interest by building up layers underneath said cloth.  Be sure you choose a caterer that shares your vision and will be creative about his/her food display
Q. I’m dying to have a dessert bar! What are some cute, tasty, AND budget-friendly desserts that you’d recommend?
A. Cupcakes are always a cute idea.  They can be decorated in different colors with different decorations on top of each one.  Any type of bar or cookie can be displayed on a pretty paper liner. Desserts with a whipped topping can be dressed up with chocolate shavings and/or toasted coconut.  Again, the serving platters and stands make a big difference in the overall look of the table.  just be sure you offer a yummy display of fruity, chocolatety and caramely flavors so that everyone finds something that they can’t resist!


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