Wedding Cakes & Food Forum

Multiple caterers at reception - how to estimate how much guests will eat of each option?

We've got a venue that's very flexible re: catering, so we're looking at bringing in a few different types of foods that we love (and that are budget friendly!) to give people some fun options. Currently we have a crepe place and BBQ place in mind - and might add a third option.

Right now we're estimating a guest list of ~150 people, so my fiance thinks that for each restaurant we can estimate 60 to 90 people. However I'm thinking that people probably eat more at an event like this then they might ordinarily - and personally if I were a guest I would want to sample everthing, at least a little bit! I also think that having enough food is one of the most important aspects of hospitality and really want to be sure that we don't end up under-ordering. However I've never planned an event of this size, so I don't have great instincts for how to estimate how much people will actually eat. Does anyone have any experience with this kind of situation? Any advice is appreciated, thanks!

Re: Multiple caterers at reception - how to estimate how much guests will eat of each option?

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    You should have enough of each option for each guest.  Like you I would want to try each type of food and would be a bit upset if I went to grab a pulled pork sandwhich and they had run out.

    It is better to have too much food then not enough.  Always.

  • Agree with Maggie for sure.

    Also, you need to be asking these caterers if they will allow other catered food at an event with their food.  Many will not due to possible liabilities.
  • Thanks for the feedback! The BBQ place would simply be delivering the food - not acting as a full catering service, so there's no conflict there. And we've talked with the owner of the crepe place, and she is open to this kind of arrangement. I agree, better to be upfront with people at the start.

    Ok - this is confirming my instinct, people will want to try multiple options! However, won't they still perhaps want less of each than they might if we had only one type of food available? For example, ordering from the BBQ place you order per person - but if someone has already had two crepes, perhaps they'd only eat 1/2 or 1/3 of the amount of BBQ a typical 'per person' order would supply. In which case maybe we could get away with ordering for fewer people because more would be eating half portions.

    I suspect we could get away with at least a slightly smaller order, but where do you draw the line? I40 orders for 150 people? 130 orders for 150 people?  120 orders? and so on and so forth. When in doubt I'm sure you're right, better to err on the side of enough food... but it seems like if we had full orders of both types we'd definitely be wasting some. Hmm..  well in any case thanks for the help! We'll continue to mull...
  • Yup - it's kind of weird! But despite the lack of uh... thematic unity? we really love both restaurants and hope to give guests more real variety to choose from than is typically available. Of course we're still figuring it all out. It would actually probably seem less strange if we had a third option so it would be more like a street festival or fair where people just choose from a wide variety... but that makes the logistics/budgeting even more complicated! So we may just have to settle for being a little weird...
  • I would think that you still need enough for each person. What if everyone wants BBQ and no one wants crepes but you only had 140 servings and 150 guests? So 10 guests wouldn't get BBQ. That is what makes this harder.

     

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited May 2013
    I would still order enough for every guest.  Like I said, it is better to have too much food then not enough.

    You will be surprised how much people will eat at a wedding, especially since you are having different stations.  Also, if you are hiring staff to serve the food rather then the guests serving themselves the guests will get the regular portion of food no matter what since they aren't serving themselves.  KWIM?

    Also, cutting back by only 10 guests really won't save you that much money so you really should just order enough for everyone.

  • Ok - looks like the consensus is to expect most people to eat full servings of both! I know at this kind of event I tend to wish there were more variety of things for me to sample small amounts of, but sounds like I should not use my own preferences as a rule of thumb on this. In that case we may end up just going with one type of cuisine... hm. Well, thanks for the feedback!
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    In Response to Re: Multiple caterers at reception - how to estimate how much guests will eat of each option?:
    [QUOTE]Ok - looks like the consensus is to expect most people to eat full servings of both! I know at this kind of event I tend to wish there were more variety of things for me to sample small amounts of, but sounds like I should not use my own preferences as a rule of thumb on this. In that case we may end up just going with one type of cuisine... hm. Well, thanks for the feedback!
    Posted by ephysby[/QUOTE]

    What about doing the crepe thing during cocktail hour?  That way you still get the food you like there but you won't be needing to pay for so long of their time.  If, in fact, some of the costs is because of their labor and hourly charges.

  • I feel like if you are going to offer two really distinctive flavors/types of cuisine, your menu feels awkward.  On the other hand, if you have say 4-5 distinctive flavors, it feels like you're doing a foodie version of Epcot Center.  The place in that amusement park where they have little mini versions of a dozen or so countries.

    It seems to me that BBQ is American/Southern cuisine.  Crepes are French.  How about adding a stir-fry or sushi station?  How about also adding a taco station?  Or Italian? 

    I realize this changes your pricing, but it also means you will have a wide enough variety to satisfy the palette and dietary needs of all your guests.  I think you should be able to find a food truck or a small family-run local restaurant to serve tacos, or Italian sausage and peppers on a breadroll, or maybe some kind of Asian cuisine.  Or Greek/Middle Eastern?  I'd be sure to include at least one vegetarian entree, and some that are low salt/low fat/gluten free etc.

    If you do stick with just BBQ and crepes, I'd do crepes for dessert, with a range of toppings - flambee peaches, flambee bananas, whipped cream, sliced berries, chocolate, peanut butter, nutella, junior mints or other 'meltable' candies.  Make it interactive.

    Good luck! 
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