In need of a wedding caterer.
Hi all. I'm getting married in May 2008 up in Palos Verdes. Our venue "recommends" caterers from their preferred list. The least expensive caterer we've been able to find, for food, labor, wedding cake, and non-alcoholic beverages for 250 people, is around $17,000 (not including tips but includes taxes and service charges). We can bring in a non-preferred caterer but it'll cost an extra $500. Am I fooling myself in thinking there's full service catering available for less than $15,000? I'm looking for any catering recommendations that can feed and serve at least 250 for $15,000 or less (including equipment costs; the venue's kitchen doesn't have stoves or ovens). Thanks in advance Chowhounds!
I am getting married in January, and that price looks low to me. I did not research caterers extensively, but I do know that it was nearly impossible to find a venue that provided its own decent food (sit down dinner, non-Chinese food) for under $15000 for 100 guests.
At $17,000, you're looking at $68 a head. Think about it. A dinner is going to cost at least $40 (salad, entree, dessert), and then each person needs to have a few plates, bowls, cups, glasses, silverware, napkins (let's say $10, though that's low), chairs ($6), and each person needs drinks ($10 if you are doing no alcohol, though I've seen caters charge as much as $15 for unlimited non-alcoholic beverages).
So you're already at $60 a head for food and rentals per person. Then you need to rent the general stuff like tables, tablecloths, a stove to cook on, pay the catering staff, and have them haul their entire kitchen out and possibly bring a tent to cook under. It's easy to see that going over $8/pp when divided out.
Based on the few caterers I called, you can decrease your overall cost by:
-changing the style of meal. Lunch, buffet, or cocktail receptions cost less than a sit down dinner. Cocktail receptions also require fewer big tables and chairs.
-cutting the number of staff needed. Hourly wages or staff are a huge cost. If you do something that requires fewer servers (buffet instead of sit down) your cost will decrease. Of course, a buffet require more table and linen rentals, but that should be cheaper than waitstaff.
-providing your own rentals. Can your venue provide tables and chairs? You have so many guests it's probably not feasible to try this, but smaller parties could possibly borrow linens, serving trays, etc.
-providing your own drinks. Not all caterers will allow this, but some will serve drinks for a few dollars a person if you provide everything (ice, soda, juice)
-cutting the per dollar cost of your entree selection. If you can go $10 less a plate per entree, you will save $2500.
-cut elsewhere. Sadly, $17,000 is not a lot in LA for a 250 guest wedding, especially if you are a Chowhound and care about your guests being well fed. The only place where that's commonly done is a Chinese banquet style wedding. You are talking about trying to get it under $15,000. Can that $2,000 come out of elsewhere? I am saving myself over a thousand dollars by doing my own centerpieces, and over $400 by doing my own invitations. Of course I don't know about your wedding details, but those are possibilities.
Congrats and best of luck!
A few places I tried:
Kitchen For Exploring Foods
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Thanks for all the recs. Luckily we don't have to worry about tables, chairs & linens. All we're looking for is food & service for at least 250 (could grow to 270). Hmmm, sounds like we're asking a lot. My fiance suggested bringing in someone to make a huge pan of paella. The only thing I remember from my trip to Spain when I was 8 yrs old was attending a paella cookout. It was the yummiest! It looked like they were trying to break a world record for cooking the largest pan of paella. Anyone or caterers in LA do something like that?
Try Berookhim Royal Catering they are a persian caterer who does all different kinds of foods. I had them at my wedding and I have used them for other occasions. There prices are great. They can do buffet or sit down they also do appetizier stations ie sushi, meat carving etc. Speak to Nahal she is the one to deal with there. http://www.royalcatering.com/
Really do your self a favor and call these people I think you will be surprised at the quality and cost.
If you don't need a lot of rentals and you are open to doing something like paella where everyone's sharing one big entree, your budget is more than reasonable! You'll have some challenges finding a caterer who does things out of the ordinary, but that's what Chowhound is for!
Persian, Indian, Chinese, and Mexican immediately come to mind as fun for large groups and not too expensive. Or maybe even Japanese. I don't know the pricing, but a few large sushi boats and a chef behind a table making specialty handrolls would be super fun and visually striking.
There's a woman who used to be at the Hollywood Farmers Market every Sunday. Her food was very good, and she's a terrific character. She did catering events. She's not at the Market anymore, but she may still cater. I'm pretty sure it was "Mama's Spanish Sauces" or something like that. If you can't find her, I'm sure the Hollywood Farmers Market website could probably give you the name.