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Food and Cakes

Is it worth it to pay so much for food?

I am astounded by how much it costs to feed my guests. I am expecting about 150 people and the running rate of a full proposal is $10,000. At a rate of $55 a head. I have been on top of each catering company, breaking it down saying that I can only afford MAX of $25/$30 a head for food only. All of the companies that I have been telling this to, seem to be struggling with it and those that have gotten back to me, can only do min. $7000.

I will admit, I am a natural coupon lady. I use any discount that I can find on my normal day-to-day activities (i.e. scout-mob restuarants, always google for a coupon code anytime I buy things online.) So, with that being said, I feel like there HAS to be a way to find a cheaper option of catering. Should I consider an earlier reception time - so I dont have to pay for a huge meal? Or should I just get over this and pay the cheapest cost I can find?

Re: Is it worth it to pay so much for food?

  • I would change your wedding/reception time to a non-meal time if you cannot afford to feed folks. You can also do a punch and cake reception this way which is much more affordable.

    Also, $55/person isn't too bad (obviously, depending on your area).

    Have you considered things like doing pasta, etc. that goes a bit further for a more affordable price?

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  • We're doing an afternoon wedding with a dessert reception because a big fancy reception isn't necessarily what we wanted. I guess it depends if you really want a band or DJ and dancing as to when you time your wedding and how much food you need to serve. A brunch is cheaper. Or BBQ.
  • Check with restaurants in your area to see what they charge for catering.  Italian restaurants usually do a lot.  FWIW, our final head count was about 40 and our catering was about $2500.
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  • I think that is a reasonable pp cost for a dinner.  Options to save money include cutting your guest list, having a cake and punch reception like pp suggested, or having a brunch or lunch instead of dinner.  You can also try a pasta or bbq caterer, which tend to be cheaper.
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  • Check on your local board (see link to left "Local Wedding Boards"). They may know of places you have not contacted yet.

    We found that some gourmet stores locally do catering also. These types of catering options are more willing to negotiate because they don't make their entire profit on catering like a catering company does, but they also sell wonderful gourmet foods to customers in the stores. You'd then need to find a venue where you can bring in your own catering.

    The easiest ways to save money:

    Have your wedding in the "off season", ie November to March
    Have your wedding on a Friday night or Sunday
    Have your wedding at a "non-meal" time, ie the reception is between 10 am- noon, or 3 pm - 6 pm, then guests leave
    Cut your guest list
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited July 2012
    People always remember if the food at a wedding.  They might not remember the actual meal, but they will remember if it was plentiful, good or bad.   

    I've never thought spending money on food as being a waste.  I feel like you should get the highest quality food you can get for your budget.  If $55 is too much for your comfort, find a place less expensive but still good quality.  

    We spent $90 per head for just food, so I think $55 is not bad.  My wedding was in a HCOL area and my husband is a chef, so food was VERY important to us.  You might not feel the same.








    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited July 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_is-it-worth-it-to-pay-so-much-for-food?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:23Discussion:7850f147-f81e-4b97-afdf-0c990443932bPost:32a8b524-5c7d-4cec-b309-b857a2fd81c5">Re: Is it worth it to pay so much for food?</a>:
    [QUOTE]<strong>People always remember if the food at a wedding.  They might not remember the actually meal, but they will remember if it was plentiful, good or bad.  </strong>  I've never thought spending money on food as being a waste.  I feel like you should get the highest quality food you can get for your budget.  If $55 is too much for your comfort, find a place less expensive but still good quality.   We spent $90 per head for just food, so I think $55 is not bad.  My wedding was in a HCOL area and my husband is a chef, so food was VERY important to us.  You might not feel the same.
    Posted by lyndausvi[/QUOTE]

    This.  Your wedding and reception will probably be one of the most important events you host.  Cut costs by choosing an off meal time or picking a different cuisine, but definitely don't scrimp on the quality or amount of food that would be appropriate for that meal time.

    We've been cutting coupons and our general expenses and saving like crazy since getting engaged so we could have a nice reception (and honeymoon!). 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_is-it-worth-it-to-pay-so-much-for-food?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:7850f147-f81e-4b97-afdf-0c990443932bPost:32a8b524-5c7d-4cec-b309-b857a2fd81c5">Re: Is it worth it to pay so much for food?</a>:
    [QUOTE]<strong>People always remember if the food at a wedding.  They might not remember the actual meal, but they will remember if it was plentiful, good or bad.  </strong>  I've never thought spending money on food as being a waste.  I feel like you should get the highest quality food you can get for your budget.  If $55 is too much for your comfort, find a place less expensive but still good quality.   We spent $90 per head for just food, so I think $55 is not bad.  My wedding was in a HCOL area and my husband is a chef, so food was VERY important to us.  You might not feel the same.
    Posted by lyndausvi[/QUOTE]
    Yep, very true. After a hell of a lot of searching and haggling, I was able to get $57pp which is a STEAL in northern NJ. OP, if you absolutely cannot afford it, then use the suggestions of the PP regarding changing the time, day of the week or even month. Obviously, you could cut the guest list. To me, the reception & food was top priority and where we spent about 60% of our budget. It was worth every penny. But those were pennies that we could afford to spend. <div>
    </div><div>Definitely check out your local wedding board to find out recommendations to more locations in your area. You may be surprsed that there can be a few more you hadn't seen yet.</div>
  • OMG!!! I could not disagree more with the other brides. Paying $10,000 for FOOD that is for SOMEONE ELSE on YOUR day is absolutely ridiculous! My budget is a lot smaller for the reception as well, and we researched some local restaurants who cater for a lot less. I found a really great italian place to cater for 1/3 of the price that it would cost through a catering company. It can be done. You could also make sure to find a venue that will allow you to bring in your own food in order to cut costs. Yes, guests may remember the quality of the food, but you're going to remember what you paid and how much debt you took on longer than they will remember your reception.
  • edited July 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_is-it-worth-it-to-pay-so-much-for-food?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:7850f147-f81e-4b97-afdf-0c990443932bPost:35769d29-81b8-4ba7-9322-b83d2e6d895b">Re: Is it worth it to pay so much for food?</a>:
    [QUOTE]OMG!!! I could not disagree more with the other brides. Paying $10,000 for FOOD that is for SOMEONE ELSE on YOUR day is absolutely ridiculous! My budget is a lot smaller for the reception as well, and we researched some local restaurants who cater for a lot less. I found a really great italian place to cater for 1/3 of the price that it would cost through a catering company. It can be done. You could also make sure to find a venue that will allow you to bring in your own food in order to cut costs. Yes, guests may remember the quality of the food, but you're going to remember what you paid and how much debt you took on longer than they will remember your reception.
    Posted by daniellemartens33[/QUOTE]

    <div>
    </div><div>No one would ever suggest going into debt to provide great food for your guests.  However, ALL of us will say that providing the BEST that you <em>can</em> afford is always very appreciated by the guests and if you provide anything less it will not go unnoticed. Shiiity food is always remembered.   I would rather a wedding with bare bones decor, no favors, simple dress, etc. and great food than a wedding with the other bells and whistles with cruddy food or not enough food.   That's how every single guest will feel too. </div><div>
    </div><div>Host what you can afford.  Never overspend. But do the BEST you can with the food and make food a priority because it's the number 1 thing guests will care about and remember.</div>
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_is-it-worth-it-to-pay-so-much-for-food?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:7850f147-f81e-4b97-afdf-0c990443932bPost:35769d29-81b8-4ba7-9322-b83d2e6d895b">Re: Is it worth it to pay so much for food?</a>:
    [QUOTE]OMG!!! I could not disagree more with the other brides. Paying $10,000 for FOOD that is for SOMEONE ELSE on YOUR day is absolutely ridiculous! My budget is a lot smaller for the reception as well, and we researched some local restaurants who cater for a lot less. I found a really great italian place to cater for 1/3 of the price that it would cost through a catering company. It can be done. You could also make sure to find a venue that will allow you to bring in your own food in order to cut costs. Yes, guests may remember the quality of the food, but you're going to remember what you paid and<strong> how much debt you took </strong>on longer than they will remember your reception.
    Posted by daniellemartens33[/QUOTE]
    When did someone say to overspend and go into debt to feed your guests? Everyone has a different budget and $10K is a drop in the bucket for some, or 10x the life savings of others. Only do what you can afford, but do it well. <div>
    </div><div>Like PP, it is much better to do little or no decorations, favors or other completely unnecessary things and then spend that money on better quality food. Thanking your guests for taking the time out & spending money to attend your wedding is far more important. </div>
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_is-it-worth-it-to-pay-so-much-for-food?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:7850f147-f81e-4b97-afdf-0c990443932bPost:35769d29-81b8-4ba7-9322-b83d2e6d895b">Re: Is it worth it to pay so much for food?</a>:
    [QUOTE]OMG!!! <strong>I could not disagree more with the other brides. Paying $10,000 for FOOD that is for SOMEONE ELSE on YOUR day is absolutely ridiculous!</strong> My budget is a lot smaller for the reception as well, and we researched some local restaurants who cater for a lot less. I found a really great italian place to cater for 1/3 of the price that it would cost through a catering company. It can be done. You could also make sure to find a venue that will allow you to bring in your own food in order to cut costs. Yes, guests may remember the quality of the food, b<strong>ut you're going to remember what you paid and how much debt you took on longer than they will remember your reception.</strong>
    Posted by daniellemartens33[/QUOTE]

    <div>
    </div><div>I agree if you can't afford it's ridiculous, but if you can afford it why is it ridiculous?</div><div>
    </div><div>Some of us didn't go into debt  or regret spending $10k (or even more in my case) for food for our weddings.  We enjoy hosting our family and friends.</div><div>
    </div><div>If you can't or just don't want to afford to spend that much, don't.   But the OP asked if it was worth it to pay so much for food.  My answer still is you should spend as much as you can afford for the best quality of food.  It's not an expensive that goes unnoticed. </div>






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • edited July 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_is-it-worth-it-to-pay-so-much-for-food?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:23Discussion:7850f147-f81e-4b97-afdf-0c990443932bPost:35769d29-81b8-4ba7-9322-b83d2e6d895b">Re: Is it worth it to pay so much for food?</a>:
    <strong>[QUOTE]OMG!!! I could not disagree more with the other brides. Paying $10,000 for FOOD that is for SOMEONE ELSE on YOUR day is absolutely ridiculous</strong>! My budget is a lot smaller for the reception as well, and we researched some local restaurants who cater for a lot less. I found a really great italian place to cater for 1/3 of the price that it would cost through a catering company. It can be done. You could also make sure to find a venue that will allow you to bring in your own food in order to cut costs. Yes, guests may remember the quality of the food, but <strong>you're going to remember what you paid and how much debt you took on longer than they will remember your reception.
    </strong>Posted by daniellemartens33[/QUOTE]


    The reception is to thank the guests for joining you on your special day and <strong>spending their money to get you a gift. </strong> Plus, where someone lives is a big determining factor.  I lived in a really small town when I got married but the ceremony and reception were in a large city that offered nice accommodations and activities since all of our guests were coming from out of town.  As a result, the money we spent on food was triple what we could have paid had the reception been in the small town I lived in.  But location and food was important to us - so we put the bulk of our budget toward that.

    In my opinion (I know some will blast me for this) if you can't afford a wedding you shouldn't have one.  You are just as married by going to the justice of the peace and having a very small reception at a restaurant.  I don't think a wedding is something anyone should go in debt over, but if you have the money saved up and can afford the wedding - then go for it.  We didn't go into debt when we got married (and we paid for the entire wedding/honeymoon ourselves).

    Now, back to the OP: it seems like you have done your homework and this is the price for catered food in your area.  The best way to reduce cost is to reduce the number of guests.  This affects everything...The number of invitations you need, table linens, chair covers, center pieces, food, alcohol, pieces of cake, favors...
  • Yes, $10,000 is a lot for food (anyway for me).  That is more than i am spending on my entire wedding.  But the food is important so you have to find ways to afford it (you can't have a reception without food).  I would still look around and see if you can find places that cater (not necessarily 'catering companies') willing to offer you a deal.  I have heard Mexican restaurants charge as little as $10 pp so that might be a better option for you.

    honestly, cutting my guest list was not an option for me (i want the semi big wedding) so i scoured the web and the yellow pages and called every caterer I could find until i found one in my budget that offered everything I wanted.  3 months out and I finally have a caterer.  So while it took some time, it paid off: i am paying less than 10 pp and it includes 3 apps pp, main course meal, dessert and table linens and a sparkling wine toast.
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