My Catering Will Cost HOW MUCH!
Congratulations! You are engaged to the love of your life and now
you are about to embark on a lifelong journey together, you set your
date and now you have to plan the wedding. You may only have a year
or less to do it in, this is a huge task for those unacquainted with
party or event planning.
One of the most important aspects of your reception will, of course,
be the catering. It is a fact that ten years from now most of your
guests wonít remember much about your wedding except how beautiful
the bride looked and how good the catering was; however, it might
come as quite a shock when you receive the catering quote. A good
caterer will cost you as much as 40-50% of your wedding budget. Sure
there are lots of budget caterers out there that will charge
extremely low rates, and you get what you pay for. Be careful.
When hiring a caterer, it is important to understand what you are
paying for and why prices are positioned as they are. It is not as
simple as paying for the food on your plate because there are
immense amounts of work that go on behind the scenes and costs are
extremely high for everything.
Basically, just like any other business, prices come down to the
costs of doing business. Food and labour are the two major ones for
a catering company. The days of foodservice companies getting
products for far less than consumers are long gone. Many times food
distributor prices are higher than the national grocery store chains
and if a chef wants to maintain high quality then he/she has to work
within those prices or spend a couple days at the grocery store.
When we are talking about buffet service it is even more difficult
to meet budgets as guests will usually take far more food than they
will ever eat and all that wasted food needs to be paid for.
Labour is the next huge cost for a caterer. Immense amounts of time
go into planning, prepping, organizing and executing an event. The
food doesnít just magically appear, and is usually the result of a
full staff of cooks and an event coordinator putting in a full weeks
work to get the job done properly. Then, of course, there is the
on-site service staff as well. Gone are the days when a server makes
minimum wage. To find the right service staff that will give a great
impression of the catering company is difficult and costs money.
These two costs will take up about 60% of a catererís revenue, and
there are continuous marketing costs, equipment costs, vehicles and
fuel, insurance and licensing, rent, very large gas bills, water and
electricity bills, bridal shows, cleaning costs and so many others.
In fact it is extremely difficult for any foodservice business to
pull out a profit from their revenue. 5% is considered pretty good.
So, taking all this into consideration, how does one know if they
are getting the best value for their dollar? First off, one must
understand the difference between price and value.
For example, letís say you are looking at two different caterers for
your wedding reception. Caterer A may serve a roast beef dinner for
$20 per plate and Caterer B for $32 per plate. The menus may even
look the same. So obviously the $20 per plate dinner is the better
value, right? Not necessarily! Caterer A may be serving outside
round and caterer B may be serving Prime Rib. In fact, the quality
of the two menus may be completely different altogether, so make
sure that you have a tasting of the menu before deciding.
There are two distinctly different ways that caterers charge for
their services as well.
Caterer A is charging on a per plate basis and the initial price per
plate seems quite low. However, they will charge for labour,
rentals, delivery, coffee/tea, wedding cake and more as add-ons to
the price. Unfortunately these all cost money and the end consumer
has to pay for them. You can expect to pay a service charge and tax
Caterer B specializes in all inclusive packaging on a per guest
basis and may include all the place settings, servers and chef
labour, coffee/tea, hors díoeuvres, linens and more in the price per
guest. Usually this is because this caterer owns all their equipment
and doesnít need to rent it or they rent the items for you and add
them to your quote/invoice. The price per guest seems high at first,
but there will be no additional charges other than those mentioned
in the quote including service charge and tax.
Both methods of pricing are perfectly acceptable as long as the
caterer is up front about what is included in the price. Read your
quote very carefully and ALWAYS make sure your caterer has a
licensed facility and is fully insured. This also adds to your price
slightly, but the peace of mind is completely worth it. You should
be able to sit back and enjoy your special day with no stress and no
This should give you a good idea what you are paying for when hiring
a caterer and make the whole wedding planning process a lot easier.