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How much does YOUR caterer charge?

We are currently looking at a venue that would require us bringing in a caterer for our cocktail hr, sit down meal, etc. They sent us a 'preferred caterer' list, but we are allowed to use anyone we like. What are some questions we should ask when we get in contact with these vendors, and I was curious as to what some of you are paying for YOUR caterer..Just wanted to get an idea/range of what's out there :) Also, if you have any rec's....I'd love to hear 'em! Thanks!

Re: How much does YOUR caterer charge?

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    edited December 2011
    You should ask questions that would help you decide which cater to choose.  Food option choices, sample menus, will they print the menus or do you have to.  How many appetizer options do you have, use and cost for wait/server staff, etc. etc. As to price, that will depend on how much you want.  If you wanted passed appetizers and also stations, that'll be different than just having stations; if you want 3 or 4 entress instead of 2, that'll be different.  Choices for dessert, open bar, etc. - each caterer is truly different that you can't really say what one charges is necessarily comparable to another. I say pick 4 or 5 caterers, meet with all of them.  Find out which ones will let you sample their food and/or view an event they are hosting.  Whichever company is giving you the best bang for your buck within your price range will be the one to go with. Good luck.
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    edited December 2011
    It really depends but some of the caterers that I have worked with to give you an idea of what you are looking at per head on average: Sterling Affair 130-150 range Great Performances 200-250 range Creative Edge 175-225 Neumans 175-225 Of these I prefer Creative Edge. Who is on their preferred list?
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    jbwed1jbwed1 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Creative Edge is listed as one....along with Marcy Brownstein, Lowerline, Scoozi, and Cleaver Company...there were others...but I'm blanking right now. I don't have the list in front of me.. Thanks ladies for the info so far! It's very helpful!
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    edited December 2011
    I love Marcy - she is the in 200-250 range. Never heard of lowerline Scoozi - don't know their prices Cleaver Co. - she is great too - just not sure of her pricing.
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    edited December 2011
    What is your price range that you are looking to stay in? Maybe I can make some recommendations.
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    jbwed1jbwed1 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    as inexpensive as possible! haha..Ok, actually...we are having a SMALL group - about 20-30 people. We'd like welcome drinks, cocktail hr, and either a seated dinner or buffet. Most of the food will be vegetarian...I'd love to stay below 200 per person...as 'below' as possible, and still have yummy food.
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    edited December 2011
    I asked questions about how many waiters per guests, how many bartenders, how many chefs, how many captains, etc.; whether they had worked in my venue before (this was a requirement) and if so, how often and how recently; whether they foresaw any problem turning the ceremony space into the dining space during cocktail hour.  I did a lot of negotiating on price - could we bring in our own alcohol, would the cost change if we added a couple of hors d'oevres, how much for additional stations.  I asked a lot of questions about ways to bring the price down, since a number of the caterers I spoke to were way more than I wanted to spend.  I ended up using A Sterling Affair, which gave me a great deal for the quality, quantity and service.  Without rentals, it was $132 per person, and (here's the big thing) no automatic 20% service charge that almost ALL the other caterers added on.  There were a few caterers who were less expensive but I had concerns about their service.  Sterling Affair came recommended by my venue, a recent bride, a guest at a recent wedding, and my band leader.
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    jbwed1jbwed1 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Great tips and great questions to ask - thanks again ladies! This brings up something I was wondering about..Are most caterers ok with you bringing your own alcohol? I would love to do this...only about half of our guests will be drinking, and I'd prefer to just purchase what we need. Is this possible, or do caterers frown upon this?
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    edited December 2011
    In regard to alcohol it all depends. Some caterers have the ability to purchase and serve and others will recommend what to order and how much but you need to pay for it. It all has to do with if they have a liquor license or not. Sometimes it is better to do the caterers alcohol because if you don't use it all you don't have to worry about returning it. FYI some liquor stores allow you to purchase and return bottles that have no been chilled and the label isn't messed up. On the flip side, if you run out, they will have more and you won't have to worry about sending someone out for more. Places that have their liquor license will not allow you to purchase your own liquor. In the case where they have their license they need to buy it and serve it unless it is donated. Donated by the distributor and unfortunately not your to be father in law. In regards to mayflower's post. Some caterers will be more flexible on price but just because you have 8 hors d ouevres instead of 10 doesn't necessarily mean it will be cheaper, guests will eat the same out they will just eat a smaller variety. also with waitstaff, I have seen a lot of people try to cut back on waitstaff. Some caterers will be flexible with that others won't, remember this is a reflection on them and there is a potential customer out there at one of those tables. The general rule of thumb is that for every ten guests there is one waiter, which usually translates into one per table. Some weddings have 1.5 waiters/every ten guests. I wouldn't advise doing less waiters - serve out times become and issue. If staffing costs are an issue, switch to a buffet. But before you make that commitment see what the rentals for a sit down dinner will cost and what the rentals for a buffet will cost. Sometimes with a buffet, depending on what you serve the extra rentals can cost just as much as the staff would. Check out Ben Zion of Smart Catering. He is really good at vegetarian and all budgets.
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    citygirl411citygirl411 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I went to a wedding done by Creative Edge and it was great.  Another caterer I have used and love is Sonnier & Castle
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    jbwed1jbwed1 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    So far, I've emailed quite a few caterers just to get an idea of their work and services. Creative Edge is the only one that's responded quickly..and they seem great to work with. Definitely going to check into using them...I've also found Red Table Catering that seems to look pretty good for what we need. I went on the Smart Catering website...which a pp had mentioned - it looks GREAT! Thanks for the help ladies!
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