Help: Catering Cost(s) For Wedding in Montreal
Hi I'm new to this board and I love, love, love great food. But, Im soooo confused. I'm getting married on a Sunday next year, and am clueless as to what I should expect when encountering a catering company and moreover what questions to ask. Do they charge for tastings of their food. First off, I'm treating the reception that I will have of 150 ppl as a medium size party where I want ppl to eat, eat, enjoy and be happy, and dance.
In my fantasy world I dream of a 45 min to 1 hour cocktail event, a buffet style evening dinner for 5pm (with 3 food stations or so), and a sweet table (dessert table), and would love, love, love if I can bring my own wine, supply liquor for open bar, and have the utentsils (dishes, cutlery, and so provided by the caterer). I want all this for $10,500,00 (about $70 per person). Is this reasonable? Can it be done for a little less? Keep in mind that I'm looking at places like Java U, Simply Wonderful, and others that have been mentionned on this board. But, there's never an estimate for those wonderful referrals. Just that the food was great, but expensive. What is expensive, what's reasonable. If anyone out there hears my cries of confusion, please help:) Thanks.
BTW: Im not looking for duck or filet mignon on the menu, but great meat choices, like chicken and beef, that are done differently than the normal (dry chicken breasts) and things on skewers for cocktails (shrimp, chicken, pineapple).
First off, I'd be shocked if any caterers charged for tastings... though as someone mentioned, don't expect to get dinner for 6.
We were married in 2005 and planned a "cocktail dinatoire"-style evening (ie: fancy cocktail food all night, no sit-down meal). For the equivalent of "mains" we had a rotating table serving sushi to start, then lamb, then duck. All kinds of other types of hors d'oeuvres floated around the rest of the time, and we had a rather spectacular dessert table at the end.
If I recall correctly, pricing was somewhere on the order of 50$/person for our menu choices. But, this was just for the food. We paid staff separately (based on the caterer's given pricing), rented all the tables, chairs, dishes and cutlery, and set up our own bar.
The bar was probably the biggest cost savings. We chose two wines based on some of the caterer's suggestions and stocked beer and a full selection of hard liquor and mixes. For a more cost-effective solution, eliminate the hard liquor and offer only red and white wine, beer, and maybe one type of mixed drink.
By the way, the caterer we used at the time was John Doig at Bice. He was fabulous to work with, I can't recommend him enough. Since we had to pull all the elements together separately, he was invaluable in telling us what we needed -- from how to lay out tables and chairs in the space to how many cases of club soda to buy for the bar.
And our guests were raving about the food. Too bad we didn't get a chance to eat any of it... :-(
You can talk to the caterers that interest you about the type of food that you'd like to do, get copies of their menus (most will at least have a starting point for you), and work with them to see what you can fit in your budget.
We just got married in Old Montreal at the Chateau Ramezay, catered by Vanilla Twist and the rental by Bravo Party Rental. The Chateau was an amazing location for an outdoor wedding but it's pretty complicated because they don't provide anything... at all. Vanilla Twist provided awesome food at a very reasonable price, everyone was raving about the food. Everything was fine with the rental, it was quite expensive at the end of the day. We went with Dolce Piu for the cake and it was amazing. Highly recommend them. Actually, the whole day was beautiful and I would recommend them all.
We used Agnus Dei in Old Montreal and would recommend them to anyone. I can't remember how much it cost (I have probably blocked it out of my mind!), but I can tell you that the food was fantastic (our guests all remarked that they had never eaten so well at a wedding), and the service was exceptional. They will sit down with you and work out the event to your liking--you can choose from a multitude of cocktail tidbits, hot and cold buffets, sit-down service, whatever. They have suppliers that will set up all tables and chairs if need be. We were 4 at our tasting day (my husband, myself and a couple of good friends), and we ate a serious amount of food before deciding on the menu. I am pretty sure we were under $70 per person, but I can't remember if that included wine. We brought our own wine and champagne, but did not have any other liquor (we only offered wine, champagne, or water:) At any rate, you should definitely give them a call and have a sit down and see.....the food is really exceptional.
Hmmm...that sounds doable...how long ago was your event? I've contacted a few places so far at $85 per person (but that doesnt include staff or rentals). Does anyone have any idea of what a caterer includes typically. I find that the price per person ($85) doesn't include staff, rentals, gratuity, etc.) and makes it very pricey. BTW what are servers typically paid...what's standard $20.00/hr.
staff, rentals and gratuitiies really add up !!
If you have a photographer lined up, consult them regarding timing; I've found that in the last weddings I attended, the cocktail period was very long, due to extensive photo sessions after the ceremony- for example, if the church is at 3 in Outremont, then the guests are at a downtown location at 4:30 at the latest; one wedding last august had us in cocktail mode till 6:30, at which time the bridal party returned for the reception line, which took another hour, lots of drinks and appetizers were consumed in all that time. I'm mentioning this so you bear in mind what your cocktail budget will be, I think it's worth it that you investigate your wedding/cocktail/dinner timeframe in order to know what to expect as far as costs go. Don't let the photographer advise you a month ahead of time that he'll need the wedding party for 90 minutes, which will stretch to 2 hours really and all you've planned for is a 45 minute drink service.
A caterer you should add to your list is Poivre et Sel. A couple of hounds have used their services and been pleased with the results and price. Going by the prices shown on their website -- www.poivreseltraiteur.ca -- $70 pp should be very doable.
Ask the caterers you speak to about bringing your own wine and spirits and, if they're open to the idea, inquire about the "reunion permit" that someone -- the caterer, the provider of the venue or you -- may have to obtain to serve booze at the event.
Whether you provide your own wine and liquor would depend on where the event is held.
I know Java U does really decent catering - they just did an event this Saturday that was quite lovely, food-wise, although I couldn't tell you what the price was, but I don't think it was too high at all.
I think your best bet is to contact some of these caterers, tell them what you're looking for, where it will be held, and what date you have planned. They can give you a rough idea of costs with that information. At that point, once you have an idea of costs, you can ask about trying the food. As far as I know, caterers should be happy to provide you with a sample meal at no charge, but don't expect a sit-down dinner for 6 - likely just one meal would be typical, more for presentation and to try a bit of the food.
You need to ask the caterer if they provide dishes, cutlery, etc. Otherwise, you can rent them. Then there are things like tablecloths, chair covers if needed (I assume you have tables and chairs at the venue you will be using). Centrepieces? And if you have your date set, you should be looking at booking your music, and photographer/videographer (if you haven't already).
That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many more details to look at, but a caterer that has done this many times before should have an idea of what you will need vs. what they provide.
Good luck and congratulations!