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Food idea - What are your thoughts on having Panera cater a wedding?

My fiance and I are in the process of planning our 2014 in Newport, RI. We are having a tough time cutting costs and the catering quotes we've gotten from local vendors are so much.

Panera offers catering in this area...I just wanted to get other people's takes on what they would think if they went to a wedding in a nice ballroom overlooking the Newport ocean and Panera was the caterer? We would do it up fancy so they were on platters and what not. We would also go "all out" with a ton of good sandwiches, salads, bread bowls, etc. A huge feast because we'd be saving over $5,000 from the lowest of the caterer quotes.

It is also special because Panera is our favorite place to go. So it would be a cost reduction and meaningful at the same time. We just don't want to do it if guests would be ticked and view it as tacky.

As a side note, we would also have an open beer & wine bar and have a few other unique touches to add to our wedding day (cool favors, photo booth, carousel outside of ballroom, etc.).

Thank you VERY VERY much for your time and help!

Re: Food idea - What are your thoughts on having Panera cater a wedding?

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    I would love to attend a Panera-catered wedding!

    I've gotta say, though, that sandwiches (even hot ones) seem incongruous with the venue you are describing.  Is the venue set for sure? Also, what time will the reception begin?

    I think you're the only other bride I've seen on The Knot who had a carousel at her reception. We had a waterfront venue as well (Long Island Sound).
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    I think it'd be good for a casual wedding, but I would side eye it at a ballroom.  There's really no way to"dress up" sandwiches, soups, and salads.   I would also side eye it because you would have all of the extras, but couldn't make the effort to upgrade the food.
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    fallbride1109fallbride1109 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    edited July 2012
    I think it would only fly if it was an afternoon/luncheon type wedding.  If I am invited to an evening wedding at dinnertime in a setting that you are describing, with an open bar, I think I would be rather shocked to find out that soup and sandwiches are being served.  And if there is a favor at my place setting, even more so.

    Skip the photobooth and favors and put that towards food would be my suggestion.  Be sure and come join us on the DFW board if we can help with anything locally!
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    I love Panera and used to work there for many years as an Assistant Manager, so I am all for them as a dinner choice for a cheap date night. I am not sure how I would feel about using them for your wedding day dinner. If you are looking to cut costs with the food...have you thought about maybe just doing appetizers/small plates and desserts instead of a full 3 course dinner? Some appetizers can even be done in a fancier fashion so that it wouldn't look too skimpy and you can do a dessert bar setup kinda thing? Just a thought. I am sure no matter what you choose, it will be what you want and in the end, that is all that matters :) !
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    PeavyPeavy member
    5 Love Its First Comment
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_food-idea-what-are-your-thoughts-on-having-panera-cater-a-wedding?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:b4011571-e0dd-4178-8f0f-9d87a8b68a12Post:696dda2f-61d0-4f97-8c39-d44b49421422">Re: Food idea - What are your thoughts on having Panera cater a wedding?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I think it would only fly if it was an afternoon/luncheon type wedding.  If I am invited to an evening wedding at dinnertime in a setting that you are describing, with an open bar, I think I would be rather shocked to find out that soup and sandwiches are being served.  And if there is a favor at my place setting, even more so. Skip the photobooth and favors and put that towards food would be my suggestion.  Be sure and come join us on the DFW board if we can help with anything locally!
    Posted by stephiehall[/QUOTE]

    This exactly!  This is not evening wedding/open bar type of food
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    I think for a luncheon reception it sounds great, or for a casual evening picnic reception.  For a dinner reception in a ballroom, it doesn't work.  If you can't change the time of day, then I think you need to find the extra money to serve fancier food.
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    I agree with PPs. I don't think I'd be mad, exactly, but I'd think it was tacky if you had a reception in a fancy ballroom with favors and a carousel and whatnot, and then served Panera. And on a more personal note, as a guest, I'd much rather have nice food than a carousel or cool favors. Much, much rather.
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    i'm not a fan to begin with so...........
    but that plus you're having it at a nice place just seems to not fit.
    the open bar is great. could you contact a nice restaurant in the area to see if they cater?

     

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    Panera would be great for a picnic on the beach. For a Newport, RI ballroom, I would expect something more formal than that. Skip the favors, photo booth and carousel rental. Cut back on flowers. But don't cut your food budget.
                       
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    coopman41ecoopman41e member
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited July 2012
    Thank you all for your input and ideas!!  When I say Ballroom, it is definitely not as nice as the name.  It is in a great location, make no mistake.  But the actual ballroom is just an open "rotunda ballroom" which is basically just a large open oval.  Very plain where they leave it up to each bride/groom to decorate.

    Also, in regards to the carousel, that is included in the ballroom rental so no extra cost associated with that. And the photo booth was very cheap through our DJ as an add-on to the package.

    Here is a link to the ballroom just to give you an idea of the view/look:
    http://www.cityofnewport.com/departments/enterprise-fund/ballroom/images/450_inside_dugan.jpg

    Thank you for all the feedback, it is greatly appreciated :) !  Keep them coming :)
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    QueerFemmeQueerFemme member
    First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited July 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_food-idea-what-are-your-thoughts-on-having-panera-cater-a-wedding?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:b4011571-e0dd-4178-8f0f-9d87a8b68a12Post:02760da8-d870-4080-9ea2-881da6aafe22">Re: Food idea - What are your thoughts on having Panera cater a wedding?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Thank you all for your input and ideas!!  When I say Ballroom, it is definitely not as nice as the name.  It is in a great location, make no mistake.  But the actual ballroom is just an open "rotunda ballroom" which is basically just a large open oval.  Very plain where they leave it up to each bride/groom to decorate. Also, in regards to the carousel, that is included in the ballroom rental so no extra cost associated with that. And the photo booth was very cheap through our DJ as an add-on to the package. Here is a link to the ballroom just to give you an idea of the view/look: <a href="http://www.cityofnewport.com/departments/enterprise-fund/ballroom/images/450_inside_dugan.jpg" rel="nofollow">http://www.cityofnewport.com/departments/enterprise-fund/ballroom/images/450_inside_dugan.jpg</a> Thank you for all the feedback, it is greatly appreciated :) !  Keep them coming :)
    Posted by coopman41e[/QUOTE]


    I still think that venue is a little too "nice" for sandwiches and soup, unless you are going to do it very casual and maybe around noon.   I just don't see how open bar/indoor ballroom (even a casual ballroom) goes with sandwiches and soup.

    If you want to do an evening affair with an open bar, you might want to consider doing a BBQ or even italian food. Lots of restaurants will do pasta pretty cheap.
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    Okay, thank you all for your input!  My fiance (the bride) probably would not consider Panera unless I had some feedback before hand ha ha.  So I just wanted to get everyone's take before seriously considering it.  Looks like we shall pass :)

    Does anyone know of any cost-effective yet nice caterers from past experience in the RI area?  Or is anyone a good cook that we can fly out, ha ha ha

    Thanks again!
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    Trays of Italian food from a restaurant can be relatively inexpensive. Try the local board to the left for recommendations for your area.
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    fallbride1109fallbride1109 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    edited July 2012
    Yeah, try the local board for RI on the left (and again, let us know if there is anything we can do for you in Dallas).

    Afternoon weddings can also be really lovely if you really want to use Panera.  Then everyone would have a nice view of the water.  You could always host an after party with your friends if you wanted to keep the party going (or just start the HM early!)
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    HobokensFuryHobokensFury member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    edited July 2012
    Ditto PP. I love Panera but it's way to casual for the venue/ type of wedding you are describing. To be honest I would be upset if I saw all the money you spent on a beautiful venue, a photobooth and a carousel and then got served a sandwich. Even if these things are included or cost very little as you say your guests will not know and think this.  Food is the one thing people remember at weddings.
     
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    Did you already book the venue?  If so, you need to find a way to offer something other than Panera.  I would be disappointed to attend a wedding and find the same Chipotle Chicken sandwich I had for lunch the day before being offered to me.

    If you didn't book the venue, I highly suggest looking around for other options that will fit in your budget.  Figure out the budget first and what you can get for your money and then book everything!  Don't try and fit a square peg in a round hole.
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    I have a hard time picturing any place one could have a wedding in Newport serving Panera.
    I love me some Panera, but Newport Wedding and Panera just don't go to me.
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    I love, love, LOVE Panera.  

    BUT (and it's a big but), people will really be expecting a hot meal at dinner; sandwiches and soups are just not going to go over well. 
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_food-idea-what-are-your-thoughts-on-having-panera-cater-a-wedding?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:b4011571-e0dd-4178-8f0f-9d87a8b68a12Post:f61d0bf7-d765-42e2-87f1-38c0cbce9ff5">Re: Food idea - What are your thoughts on having Panera cater a wedding?</a>:
    [QUOTE]To be honest I would be upset if I saw all the money you spent on a beautiful venue, a photobooth and a carousel and then got served a sandwich. Even if these things are included or cost very little as you say your guests will not know and think this.  Posted by HobokenBride2012[/QUOTE]
    I just wanted to emphasize this. Unless you DIY a sign that says, "Super Cheap!!" or "They wouldn't lower the price if we skipped this!" people may see these as extras that diverted the funds that could have been spent on their comfort.
    While some of my favorite weddings have had deli trays, the deli trays were consistent with the overall budget of the wedding.
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    Hi,

    Seriously? I'm not an expert but I have to lean on the side of: your friends and family are going to be excited to celebrate YOU!  As long as you feed them (and FILL them), I don't see what the big deal is!

    Panera is great, filling food.  I'd say go for it.
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    I just don't think Panera would cut it for an evening wedding. It's not fancy enough.

     

    Can you try italian restaurants? Pasta can be "dressed up" and can relatively cheap.

     

    I agree with others. Skip on the other stuff and give them a nicer meal....or change time of wedding to be earlier...or much later and have a "dessert reception

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    Zombies!!!!



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    kchakoian said:
    Hi,

    Seriously? I'm not an expert but I have to lean on the side of: your friends and family are going to be excited to celebrate YOU!  As long as you feed them (and FILL them), I don't see what the big deal is!

    Panera is great, filling food.  I'd say go for it.
    @kchakoian - Why are you responding to a thread that is over a year old?  Chances are the OP had her wedding.

    And FWIW, ballroom and Panera don't go together.  They just don't.
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    Of all the zombie threads to dredge up this is a strange one. Panera?



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    No way! I would have a pot luck over a chain restaurant cater. Or even go to a local market like Whole Foods and have them make some platters and such.
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    Ionewton said:
    No way! I would have a pot luck over a chain restaurant cater. Or even go to a local market like Whole Foods and have them make some platters and such.
    Potlucks are not appropriate.  Your reception is your thank-you to your guests for attending your wedding-they should not be expected to provide their own refreshments.  That's your responsibility.  If you don't want to do it, then don't invite anyone to your wedding.
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    melbelleupmelbelleup member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment First Answer
    edited October 2013
    My fiance and I are in the process of planning our 2014 in Newport, RI. We are having a tough time cutting costs and the catering quotes we've gotten from local vendors are so much.

    Panera offers catering in this area...I just wanted to get other people's takes on what they would think if they went to a wedding in a nice ballroom overlooking the Newport ocean and Panera was the caterer? We would do it up fancy so they were on platters and what not. We would also go "all out" with a ton of good sandwiches, salads, bread bowls, etc. A huge feast because we'd be saving over $5,000 from the lowest of the caterer quotes.

    It is also special because Panera is our favorite place to go. So it would be a cost reduction and meaningful at the same time. We just don't want to do it if guests would be ticked and view it as tacky.

    As a side note, we would also have an open beer & wine bar and have a few other unique touches to add to our wedding day (cool favors, photo booth, carousel outside of ballroom, etc.).

    Thank you VERY VERY much for your time and help!
    I would absolutely love this!!!!

    ETA: awe zombie thread got me.... I'm just craving panera :/
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    Maggie0829Maggie0829 member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    edited October 2013
    Ionewton said:
    No way! I would have a pot luck over a chain restaurant cater. Or even go to a local market like Whole Foods and have them make some platters and such.
    @ lonewton - How is this any different then using Panera?

    And so you would rather have the potential for food poisoning due to improper food handling and possible allergy issues with a potluck then have a restaurant who knows the health guidelines and how to properly handle food cater your wedding?  Um, okay, sounds awesome.

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    Ionewton said:
    No way! I would have a pot luck over a chain restaurant cater. Or even go to a local market like Whole Foods and have them make some platters and such.
    Um, nope.  Panera is yummy - depending on the formality of the event, I wouldn't mind this.  I've had way worse wedding venue food.

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    Ionewton said:
    No way! I would have a pot luck over a chain restaurant cater. Or even go to a local market like Whole Foods and have them make some platters and such.
    I'm assuming this is a joke right?

    @KnotPorscha can we shut this thing down?



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