How much should I spend on food for my wedding?

Finding a caterer for your wedding can be stressful. It doesn’t help that everyone that you call gives you a different price. There are too many factors to give you an exact number, but this article should arm you with what you need to cut cost where you can and narrow that decision down.

First let’s discuss some of the factors that effect the price.

Location: Where you’re getting married has a huge factor in cost. For instance weddings in Mobile Alabama where I am, will cost far less than weddings in New Orleans, arguably, for the same quality of food. The best way to check the going rate in your city is to get multiple quotes and average them out.

Quality: Another factor is the caliber of your menu. If you just go around asking for quotes with out a set menu in mind your numbers will be all over the place simple because caterers are giving you different qualities of their menus. One caterer might be offering you their lowest tier menus, while another is offering you their cream of the crop. If you compare some ones best to another’s cheapest chances are you’ll miss the best caterer for you and just settle on the cheapest. The best way to prevent this, go in with a set menu in mind! Even if you don’t know everything you want, if you know one or two must haves it gives them a better idea of what you’re going for, and you’ll get more accurate quotes.

Travel: Another simple factor that is usually factored in, is travel fees. For instance if I have a wedding that is 45 mins or more from my kitchen, they get charged a little for travel. Those fees aren’t just for gas like you may think, but if your venue is far away from their kitchen those fees help cover more supplies or equipment they may need. For instance If you have fried foods at a distance you might inquire a fee to transport a portable fryer. The best way to avoid travel charges? Book a venue with a full kitchen! It makes the caterers job a lot easier, and the food will be fresh and higher quality. If that’s not a option, talk to you caterers. Ask if any travel fees apply, and ask if any foods travel better than others. They will be more likely to plan a travel friendly menu, vs up charging you for items that aren’t make or break.

Wedding Theme: How much you should pay, varies completely on the theme of your wedding. If you are getting married on a beautiful farm, in a repurposed barn you don’t need to spend 30-35 dollars per person on catering. A high quality entree style menu doesn’t fit with your theme. On the other side, if you are getting married in a beautiful chandelier filled ballroom, expecting to pay 15 dollars per person is a insult. The best way to look it, try and keep a balance between your venue and your catering. High quality venue, high quality catering. Casual venue, casual menu.

To give you a simple answer, if you are getting a buffet style caterer and not plated you can look to pay between 14 and 30 per person. Anything cheaper than 14 you are going to start sacrificing things. The caterer might come under staffed or just drop off food and go. They might use canned or overly processed ingredients to cut cost. Ect. It’s up to you to find out these things and determine if they matter to you. Anything over 30 dollars with out a high quality steak or fresh seafood is more than likely over kill, and charging you for things you won’t notice. Example; They May have charged you for one of the things listed above, or They may be over staffed and you are paying servers to stand around. So do your due diligence, ask questions, and read the fine print.

How to choose the perfect venue for your wedding.

Choosing the right venue is a little more complicated then you might think. While most couples only focus on two things, price and aesthetic, they’re are a few other considerations you might want to consider. This article will cover a 3 things that might not cross your mind until it’s too late.

I might be a little biased on this one, but this is still a question you need to ask. “Is outside catering allowed on site?” Most venues will allow it, but a surprising number of venues have in house catering, and will not allow any others on site. Some may do it out of convenience, it’s one less thing for you to worry about. “Just pick your package, and we will take care of the rest”. Some may do it for the money, why just make $2000 off of the venue rental, when they can make an additional $3000 for food? Whatever their reason, you need to consider, are they capable of doing it? The last thing you need to do is spend money on this beautiful venue, only to settle on catering. Now don’t get me wrong they may have a qualified chef and staff, but I would highly recommend scheduling a tasting before making any final decisions.

Another huge consideration to take into play, where is the venue located? If your goal is for a big turnout, location is key! If the bride and grooms family are separated across the country, it’s reasonable to expect one half of the family to travel, but you can’t expect everyone to travel a great distance. There are so many factors that are involved with cross country travel, that I won’t even get into it, but the further you ask your guest to travel the lower your turnout will be. Rustic themed weddings have become all the rage in recent years, but when touring those shabby chic barns, keep your eyes peeled for lodging on your way in. Especially if there will be alcohol at your wedding. The last phone call you want to receive on the way to your honeymoon in Jamaica, is “one of the grooms fraternity brothers is in metro for DUI”. Even if your wedding isn’t full of heavy drinkers, you don’t want grandma to have to leave out early because it’s a hour drive back to the hotel.

Last but not least, does your venue have comfortable arrangements for the bridal party for the big day? This one may seem like common sense to you after hearing it out loud, but I can’t tell you how many places we have been to that didn’t have designated areas for the bridal parties to get ready / kill time. That may not seem like a big deal, but let me tell you why it is. The most important, Pictures Pictures Pictures!! A lot of pictures will be taken outside, whether you have an outside wedding or not, natural light is a photographers best friend. Both parties will likely have separate photo sessions. If you’re planning that beautiful spring wedding, it doesn’t take long for sweat to do its worst, a comfortable place to relax will be worth gold. Also a lot of photographers like to take photos of the getting ready process in general, if the bridal parties are in two separate locations across town, you sacrifice losing some of those precious moments. Another reason why this area is important, I hate to break it to you, but atleast one person in the bridal party is that friend that shows up late to everything. If everyone gets ready on their own time and are told to just show up 30 minutes before ceremony, you will likely lose a friend that day. It’s a great way to keep everyone in line and accountable, you have enough to worry about, take is Karen going to get here in time off the list. Another good reason to have this space, this is the perfect time to pass out bridal party gifts and share a intimate moment with your tribe. Give them a time to knock out the more intimate speeches your in-laws don’t need to hear.

So while out shopping around on venues consider these three things, none are absolutely deal breakers individually, but if a borderline venue has any of these issues I would keep looking.

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