Choosing a caterer. This was possibly the most time-consuming and difficult of our decisions—one which I thought would be the most fun, with all the taste testing and yummy options! If you have decided for a catering hall or location that provides the food, then this is one of the pieces of the wedding that you won’t have to deal with.
Chris and I were very happy that we would have so much say in the type of food that we would be serving. So we started doing our research and asking around to friends. What we found in terms of pricing amazed us: While some places offered a really good price per plate, others were astronomical and ridiculous! Some included the china and the silverware in their prices, while other caterers we talked to billed that separately, and would charge for every single piece of equipment, down to the toothpick (yes, $0.03 per toothpick we saw on one estimate!). It was overwhelming.
After a few taste tests and radically different estimates, we narrowed down our field to two caterers that we were happy with and who fit within our budget. Here’s how the cost breakdown worked for us: We paid a set amount per plate; then we had to pay for rentals (china, glasses, utensils, etc.); we rented our linens; we had to buy our liquor; and finally, we paid for the staff. Each of these costs will vary slightly, so make sure to research and negotiate. Often, the caterer will be able to handle linen rentals, china rentals, staff, and alcohol, but make sure that the amount he/she is charging for these is fair—and that they’re not marking up the price of the rentals just for a little gain.
The winner for us? A small independent caterer who offered us several choices of meals for our guests and let us choose and customize each passed appetizer and each course. We opted for a mix of fusion hors d’oeuvres and Italian fare for dinner. He also took care of the staffing, at a price that we had already negotiated, and the china and glass rentals. We took care of linens and bought all the liquor on our own. We did have a bit of a hard time with the way our caterer ran our bar and some of the drinks (the mojitos were not as minty and lemony as we had hoped!) so make sure that you communicate with the caterer often and clearly about what you want in terms of drinks and food.
This may have been way more complicated than we ever thought; but the compliments we got on the food (and our friends posting pictures of some of the entrees on Facebook!) made Chris and I feel like the best hosts ever.