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Mar 3, 2008 10:08 AM

Catering for wedding reception in Central Florida

Hi all. I'm getting married late summer/fall and one of my main priorities for the wedding is great food. Unfortunately, I'm on a tight budget. Any ideas for great caterers or even restaurants that would be good for a wedding reception in Central Florida for around 50 people? Any past experience would be very helpful. We like pretty much all kinds of food, except I cannot eat pork. Thanks in advance!

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  1. I'm not sure how their pricing is but check out Arthur's catering also Bagel King does catering as well.

    1. Without knowing your price range, type of reception (sit down dinner, buffet, heavy apps, cocktail hour ahead of time) etc. That is a tough one since everyone has a very different definition of "tight" when it comes to budgeting. :) Here are some resources to get you going.

      Caterer- Cuisiners (407) 975-8763 5470 Lake Howell Rd Winter Park FL 32792

      White Wolf does catering and they have a private room (a few doors down from White Wolf) called Harrison Graham's, but I think that is on the pricier side.

      50 people is managable for a restaurant. Harvey's Bistro downtown has very nice events in the private building lobby area, which is *very* pretty set up. We had our rehearsal dinner there and they did a great job, no problems with sticking to budget for our 30 person dinner.

      Dubsdread has a full wedding and banquet facility. We had a large family dinner on the porch and pub area of the regular restaurant and everyone was very happy. Very nice to deal with, they have a full wedding team that handles larger parties and weddings.

      All of the hotels have wedding teams or banquet teams in place, but that can get pricey, very quickly....$90-$110 per person including linens. (Not including flowers.) For a non premium menu. There are a lot of restaurants that have private rooms that you could swing a reception in. has local boards (under the "talk" section) When I was getting married I got all kinds of great local vendors info, recommendations and prices. I'm sure that there is a ton of info on places for rehearsal dinners and receptions.

      Keep in mind, bar service is a separate charge and open bar is a per head charge for a contracted amount of time and type of liquors served. Most restaurants will charge you a cake cutting fee on top of your per slice fee from the baker...this means you are paying $2-3 per person more to have a cake brought in and served. See if your venue has a perferred partner that does wedding cakes (cupcakes, desserts whatever you are serving), so you get a better rate or that can really end up being an expensive cake.

      Good luck!

      3 Replies
      1. re: winechic

        Thank you for this reply! I would prefer to have a sit down dinner, and depending on price, maybe some apps while we take pictures post-ceremony (although maybe this would be overkill)? For the entire wedding, we are probably looking at 5-7 K....yes, I know, not much, but my fiance and I are fresh outta college and are paying for it ourselves. However, food (aside from the actual marriage part!) is my number one priority in terms of what I want to spend on. We're going to have very simple centerpieces, have the reception in a very simple location (or a restaurant, depending) etc., simply because I feel providing my loved ones with a good meal that reflects our personalities is much more important. I will check out the places you have mentioned...thank you!

        1. re: Luna4

          You're making a great move by not breaking the bank over a single day. While I'm not dissing the concept of a big wedding (they're great, but they are also expensive). If you're having to foot the bill for your wedding, then your budget is wise. My wife and I were married last year and our budget for the whole affair was similar to yours. Suggest a restaurant like Sam Seltzer's in Altamonte Springs (which has a private room) or Buca de Beppo's in Winter Park (who can cater large parties). My wife and I had our reception at a local restaurant with about 25 people and the bill was around $40-45/person.

          1. re: Luna4

            exkwco is dead on. Nice to have a big day, not so nice to have to pay it off for a long time or feel strapped because you spent more than you could afford. Start an excel spreadsheet, if you haven't, to track what you are spending and plan to really helps as you get closer in. Also works as a great way to keep track of tasks that still need to be followed up with.

            Season's 52 in Altamonte has a private room, I know it hold 50 people-60 people when holding a walk about tasting. Flemmings in WP has a private room. If you don't want to have a "planned menu" (with food RSVP's ahead of time) most places will have you pick a few entrees that your party can choose from the night of, to make sure the kitchen can handle the orders.

            Once you've worked out the venue, get it in writing and be firm about the budget. Don't forget that restaurants will automatically add in tip. DIY centerpieces should be easy and affordable. Plan on making arrangements for someone to drop them off earlier in the day to your venue.

            I think a cocktail hour is nice while you are doing pics. I did it and have been to weddings that had a cocktail hour. If you run over a few minutes with pics, no one will care because they aren't starving. : )

            I've been to plenty of weddings that cover the drinks for the cocktail hour and then cover the part of the bar (1st hour) for the reception. Great way of controlling costs is to just have beer and wine. Bar tabs add up quickly, so think about that ahead of time and discuss with the venue.

            Best of luck on your big day!

        2. Can you tell us where your ceremony will be? That can help us whittle down some places. Offhand:

          - Winter Park's Luma On Park's Cellar Room will hold up to 50 people, the room is beautiful (but modern), and their food is fabulous. They have a $2000 min to have it for the entire night (includes set-up, alcohol and food, and you can have them do the cake as well, doesn't include tax/grats, - but the pricing may have changed). I was supposed to have used this place for our wedding receiption until going to Vegas seemed like a better idea.
          - In Vegas, we actually used Maggiano's Little Italy (there is one on International Drive in Orlando). You can purchase one of their banquet, and the room fee is minimal (we wanted to spend as much as possible on the food). I like their food more than Bucca di Beppo, and the menu choices were really expansive, which let us choose dishes that would appeal to a variety of tastes. They will also manage your cake if you want. You can find their special occasion/group event menus online: The nice thing about Maggiano's is I think our package ended up being around $40/plate for everything, including alcohol.

          4 Replies
          1. re: jazzy77

            Wow, again, thanks everyone for your great replies. We are thinking we may get married at either the Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando, or at the Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales. I was looking into reception sites in Orlando, but we don't want to get married in a hotel (usually expensive anyway), so I am awaiting a quote from the Ballroom on Church Street...will prob be too much but the pictures looked nice online. Any other suggestions? Thanks again for all your help!

            1. re: Luna4

              Has the Ballroom on Church Street reopened? I know my friends were supposed to get married there last year, but the Ballroom and all the other businesses (Toojay's, etc) lost their licenses, and left my friends high and dry.

              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                What?? Hm, maybe that's why their website is so vague. All they had was a phone number. Guess I will have to call soon...thanks for the heads up!

                1. re: Luna4

                  My friends actually appeared on the local news after they were left without a venue weeks before their wedding. "FIRST DANCE... DENIED!", the headline blared. Luckily a downtown hotel saw their plight and offered them a good deal, but don't leave yourself in a situation like that!

          2. I saw a sign on the outside of the Ballroom that said something to the effect that a re-opening was eminent - seemed that they were "under new management" or something like that.

            On Leu Gardens, I was going to have the ceremony there as well (on the Leu House Lawn, which you may prefer, because the Rose Garden has absolutely no shade, although it is very nice, and the clock is...well...a big clock.). You can also rent their rooms for the reception as well (they are nice, mauve in color- and they have a lovely screened in porch on one side - very Southern looking). The downside is that they have an approved caterer list you have to choose from. I didn't plan to have my reception there ( Luma is so close, so it was a no-brainer as to where we were eating). Just as a note, if you choose Leu Gardens, they open their spots the first day of the month a year ahead, and Saturday spots fill up quickly in the Fall, so you'll want to call them ASAP and put down a deposit if you're really interested.

            The Bok Sanctuary is extremely beautiful, and unique, but it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so you'll probably want to cater something there if you can. And driving to Orlando takes about an hour and a half from Winter Park (about an hour from Disney). But it's really so peaceful and lovely there.

            If you're open to something funkier, then you might also look at using the Albin Polasek Museum ( in Winter Park, or even the Maitland Art Center, which both have smaller venues, and great chow is delightfully close in proximity.

            Oh, and one last venue, I don't know what your budget is, but I absolutely love going to events at Casa Feliz in Winter Park. I know the rental fee is around $2000, but that's for the entire day, and you can easily do both the ceremony and reception there if you have a small party, and I think that includes tables and chairs (everything but linen). Their events coordinator is great too.

            5 Replies
            1. re: jazzy77

              Thanks for your replies! The main reason Bok Sanctuary was on our list is because we got engaged there, it did seem like a pretty desolate area though in terms of food so I may reconsider that.
              I absolutely LOVE your last two ideas though....I did not even consider a museum, and the Maitland Art Center seems very reasonably priced and looks really unique! I will have to check them out in person. Leu Gardens is still on the list, but we've never been there either, so I will have to see the areas in person. Thanks again for your suggestions!

              1. re: Luna4

                Another thing: If you want to use a caterer, I recommend Big City Catering. I have no idea how much they cost, but the quality is always excellent, and they will certainly work with you on the menu. I think they are willing to travel too - I think they mentioned that they've gone as far out as Fantasy of Flight, which is near Lakeland.

                Still, for the budget concious, I recommend trying to find a private room in a restaurant, because you may be able to avoid a room/linen/setup/teardown fees.

                I know it seems like I'm just droning on and on, but I did all this homework on a wedding not even a year ago and, in the end, didn't use any of it.

                1. re: jazzy77

                  Truuuuuust me, all advice is much appreciated. There's so much advice out there if you want the typical hotel wedding with a budget of $15K+, but that is not me! So I'm having to think outside of the box to get as close to what we want in an affordable way, and the personal experience of others is proving to be my best resource. I will definitely look into that catering company- Puf n' Stuf seems to be the overwhelming favorite of most reception sites in the area, so it's hard getting information on others. We are also looking into a room at a restaurant, it's just going to be sooo had to narrow it down to one type of cuisine! But you're right, it would be cheaper. Thanks so much!

                  1. re: Luna4

                    I just hosted a family event at the Polasek and it was very nice....but not inexpensive.

                    The Polasek rents the outside gardens out and is "rain or shine" a tent must be rented if you want piece of mind for weather concerns. Admission to the museum is not included with the garden rental but you may use the restrooms inside. Like Leu Gardens, you pay a rental fee for the gardens and you must use an approved caterer from their list. The caterer provides all food and drink, plus rentals for tables, linens, chairs, etc are ala carte.

                    There are set up and breakdown fees charged by the caterer and when you are budgeting your rental time, keep in mind that you must allow an additional 1.5 - 2 hours for set up and breakdown. (time TBD by the caterer) I think the set up and breakdown rental time cost $300 at the Polasek, plus the caterer labor charges.

                    The Presidential Ballroom was shut down as referenced above and was pretty expensive when they were up and running. If you are trying to operate on a budget, you really might want to shoot for the restaurant private room so you don't have to pay for the additional rental fees, etc.

                    Check out other caterers besides puff-n'-stuff.

                    Leu is nice and rental fees aren't too bad for the Leu house. The Camellia Room is the largest room, adjacent to the screened in porch and usually the first to go as it seats 200 or over. There is big demand for Leu and most Brides call exactly 1 year out when the calendar referenced above.

                    Best of Luck!

                2. re: Luna4

                  Leu Gardens is very nice. So is the Longwood Community House and the winter park farmers market.

                  This wesbite helped me out a lot when I was planning my wedding.

              2. I was in the same boat you are in when getting married last fall (also in Orlando). I could not have been happier with my wedding day. We chose Arthur's Catering (ask for Lori) and rented Casa Feliz in Winter Park for both the wedding and reception. Great food was our concern and Arthur's provided just that. I was equally happy with our cake, florist, DJ and photographer. I would be happy to share more info with you. Congrats and best of luck!

                8 Replies
                1. re: bnoflk

                  I would absolutely love more info! Anything you can provide would help- what were your favorite dishes from Arthur's? Were there any unexpected costs? ANY info you have would be helpful! Thanks :)

                  1. re: Luna4

                    We sampled Arthur's, Puff-n-Stuff and John Michael's. JM is the cheapest but I was not impressed with the food. Puff-n-Stuff had good food, but they had a lot of "extra costs" which ended up being way over budget. Arthur's includes everything. When they give you the price it is the glasses, dinnerware, linens, etc (p.s. many caterers do not include glass, only paper. Arthur's only uses glass). We decided to do something really different and had a Moroccan themed food and decor. We also found out after the fact that Arthur's is a preferred vendor at the venue we chose (there are pics on their website). We did one hour of passed hors d'oeuvres followed by a full buffet, coffee & dessert bar. I can email and/or post my full menu or pics. We did not select it, but the margarita grilled shrimp are delicious! We did a cocktail party style reception because we did not want people to be stuck at one table all night, especially since it was all family. In lieu of a full bar, we did beer, wine and signature martinis (chosen by us in colors that matched the decor). Will post a list of vendors shortly.

                    1. re: Luna4

                      My biggest unexpected cost was the photographer. My photographer was going to do the wedding for the cost of film. However, 6 days before the wedding she was in a nearly fatal accident. I opened the phone book and started dialing. Charles Waddell was the only photographer I could find that was available on such short notice and that we could afford. So this little mishap is what put us over budget. Anyway, here are the vendors.

                      Wedding Vendors:

                      Venue: Casa Feliz, Winter Park (407) 628.8200
                      Caterer: Arthur’s Catering (407) 331-1993
                      Cake: Incredible Edible Cakes (352) 735-3956
                      Florist: Winter Park Florist (407) 647-5014
                      Photographer: Charles Waddell Photography (407) 242-7210
                      DJ: Silva Entertainment (407) 681-4386

                      1. re: bnoflk

                        This is absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much. I will definitely look into these options, and I appreciate you taking the time to write all of this out!

                        1. re: Luna4

                          I am happy to provide any info. I know how stressful it can be to do this on your own.

                          Also, I saw on one of the previous posts that someone said Casa Feliz was $2K. It is $1,500 for Saturday, less for other days and they include the table and chairs for indoor seating. The only potential added expense for that venue is additional parking. They give you the option of renting the parking lot of the church across the street for the day of the event. If I remember correctly it was $100-150.

                          Anyway, I found my original menu so here it is.....Butlered: Tuscan Grilled Shrimp, Oat and Brie Medallions. Buffet: Roasted Lamb Skewers, Moroccan Chicken, Roasted Baby Vegetables, Moroccan Duck Pastilla, Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms, Lamb & Rice filled Grape Leaves, Toasted Pita and Lavosh with Humus, Eggplant Zalouk And Sundried Tomato Olive Tapenade. Coffee and Dessert Bar (mousse shots). $28pp. This rate did not include the additional staff and rentals that we requested, but that should give you a starting point.

                          1. re: bnoflk

                            Hey! You really have no idea how helpful this is. Just because I feel bad and don't want to take up the boards, would you mind giving me your e-mail address so I can ask you a few questions? I got a quote from Arthur's that was much more, AND didn't sound as delicious! Again, I really appreciate the help.

                    2. re: bnoflk

                      Hey I saw you said you had your wedding at Casa Feliz. I am thinking about doing so also next April, but I wanted to ask you, Were they strict on the music? On the noise level? Just wondering. I heard the cops come all the time and get the parties shut down.