HELP! BALTIMORE WEDDING CATERER
I'm planning my wedding for Sept 11, 2010 at the 1840s Ballroom, City Lites Room. The room/vibe is kitchy/eclectic. As with many locations, a specific caterer list is provided that we must choose from. We have approx 160ish people that probably would attend. We are on a budget so I'd like to try and figure out the most economical way to cater our wedding. We are open to the buffet option but I just don't want the food or ambiance to feel like a lunch line! My fiance' has connections to the liquor business so a MUST is that we provide our own alcohol. I heard this saves on a lot of cost:)
As we both aren't HUGE foodies but love great food, here are the caterer options. I do like beautiful presentation but I also don't want people to be hungry because the garnish is larger than the "food."
Please respond with any recommendations. Thank you!
Absolutely Perfect Catering
Catering by Carlton
Chales Levie Inc
The Classic Catering People
Hunt Valley Catering
Putting on the Ritz
Here's my take from a few years ago when I used to be a caterer, and was on the 1840's list
Absolutely Perfect Catering-- creative but uneven
*Catering by Carlton-- very good, good bang for the buck, looks elegant
Chales Levine Inc-- expensive, small servings, trendy (just what you don't want)
The Classic Catering People -- expensive, paying for reputation
Hunt Valley Catering-- low cost, menus sound ok but I don't know of food and service quality
Innovative Gourmet-- very good food, may be on the high side for you, ask for TOTAL PRICE as they have hidden add ons
Linwoods-- expensive, good, foodie
*Putting on the Ritz-- inexpensive, simple but good-- this should be on your short list
*Sascha's-- imaginative, fun, can produce good food to your budget if you are clear w them about limited resources
*Simply Elegant-- less flexible, but they have a hhigh level of customer satisfaction
Squire's Catering-- low end, traditional
Uptown Catering-- a DC caterer, so you will pay DC prices
I starred the ones I think may be best for you. Good luck, and tell us how the search goes!
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PS: get two separate buffet lines, one on each side of the room, so you don't have the first table finishing before the last table gets their food
We used Linwoods for our wedding in 2007. Like you, we got our wine elsewhere, which they were OK with. Overall, food was very very good, but quite expensive. We did a cocktail hour with hors d'oeuvres and then a sit-down dinner, which is probably more expensive and formal than what you are proposing. The Linwoods employee who we worked with was very competent but also a bit difficult to work with. She had very clear ideas about the "right" way to do things, and seemed put off when our ideas differed from hers. We were trying to create something a little less formal, and had to fight her on some of the details.
Before deciding, you should arrange for tastings at the places you shortlist. Each caterer will do these differently. Some will prepare things that you may actually want to serve at your wedding, others (such as Linwoods) will just sit you down for a meal in their restaurant. But you definitely need to try the food yourselves before signing a contract. Among the places on your list, we tasted at Ritz, Sasha's, Simply Elegant and Linwoods. Ritz and SE did not impress us, Sascha's was good but not great. The meal we had at Linwood's for our tasting was fun/memorable, and we were prepared to pay a bit more for food and save on other stuff.
General advice: The costs can get away from you if you're not careful: the waitstaff/labor charges, the linens, etc., so keep a close eye on every single detail, and be prepared to negotiate. Good luck!
I appreciate your response! I have been in the Baltimore area for 10ish years and have heard of Linwoods but heard it's on the more expensive end as well. Someone from there did contact me today. It's interesting to hear people's "take" on their catering experience. Your review is exactly what I am looking for. They don't tell you this stuff in those silly Bride magazines! While I am open to suggestions, my taste is simple. I don't respond well to someone telling me what to do because they think that's what is SUPPOSE to be done. My ceremony and venue site are non-traditional and eclectic. I want everyone, including me and my fiance to feel comfortable, not stuffy!!!I I truly don't have time or energy for someone to challenge my decisions because I have a hard enough time making one! My plan so far is to contact caterers, have them submit/email menu, we'll review the menu and reply with what we'd like to see in our menu, have them list any additional costs, cake fees, bartenders, linens, etc. Then set up appt to try food. I am detail oriented but no one really tells you how to negotiate all this stuff and frankly, I don't have the time to read all those wedding planner books! Thanks again for your insight.
If you start with a seated salad, which the staff can set out during the cocktail hour, you dispense with the long buffet line. My daughter and son-in-law escorted each table to the buffet in lieu of a receiving line. (Staff cleared away salads while guests were at the buffet.) No lines, period!
I've used Classic for everything from work breakfasts to large receptions and always been very pleased, but they are definitely expensive. They are always on time, their servers are great and there is ALWAYS a ton of food. I think it would be worth your while to at least include them in the first phase of your review and ask for a proposal - their estimates usually include everything (except linens, which can add up depending on what you choose - I believe they rent everything from Gala Cloths by Dulaney). My experiences with Ritz and Absolutely Perfect have not been as good.
Thank you for your reply! As we are on a strict budget AND with the amount of people invited, I think Classic may be out of our price range. I have heard great things about them as well....I have looked into their website and contact them. I will email with my budget which includes EVERYTHING and let them tell me what they could do. Again, your post/suggestions are appreciated!