You’re going for the real big wedding and will be serving food. You call a catering service, rent the hall, or whatever you use for the reception. Now what? Catering services provide all the food, as is their business, and most have table settings. Ask if they provide table dressings, décor, tables and chairs, etc.
Some provide full-range supplies and some only offer the bare minimum. Prices vary and some only by quote. Get RSVP head count and work off that. Most caterers will charge for no-shows, so be sure to get as accurate a count as you can. Some offer meals only. No extras such as dessert, drinks, even breads are included in the pre-priced events.
Quotes are generally given by the number attending and what you want for each plate. If you want , for example, a chicken dish you will pay for the entrée, one or two side dishes and service. Drinks will be an extra charge as will bread and dessert. These are usually one to three dollars per setting over the cost of the plate cost. If you go with a quoted price these will be offered in the overall cost.
One way to save on these events is to find a new service who is looking to build their clientele list. They may offer discounts, or lower prices simply to get their name out there for the first few months of business. Another way is to look for a catering school.
Like hair schools, these events are run by the students and give a good cost break over what an established company gives. Some charge as little as $10-$15 per plate plus drinks, dessert and breads for an entrée plate and $5-$12 for picnic style snack plates plus drinks.
Decide which you want to go with and do it at least six months in advance. Most catering services, even schools, will require a guaranteed count within two weeks of the event and, full pay will be required at that time by many, as well. It might be less expensive to have a buffet style banquet.
Count your pennies and see what you can and want to go with. Ask for a full price-per-plate including tax. Go as fancy or as laid back as you want that special day to be, and at a reasonable cost, but keep in mind not all catering prices include delivery.
Use the same shop-around attitude for the wedding cake. You don’t have to use a cake shop. Do you have a family member who bakes? Do you, or a family member know of anyone who bakes? A friend asked around at church and found a member who worked at a store bakery and used her talents to make extra money on the side. Her cake cost was cut in half by using this contableection and the cake was beautiful.
Make sure however you go to ask about delivery and setup of the cake. You don’t actually have to go pick it up- like you see on a television shows where the bride’s brother is running all over town with a three-tier wedding cake in the back of a station wagon. Just have the final location available to them when they need it. Most bakeries will deliver and set the cake up on site for you.
So will the side-job baker in most cases since the cake trim has to be done once the tiers are set and standing. It’s an art to get the cake standing straight, and staying that way, and the baker wants future referrals, so they will usually do that as part of their quote. You can have it your way at your cost if you’re willing to shop and find the treasures.