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Wedding Caterer Under $80-100/pp

My fiancee and I are foodies who love dive restaurants, cheap eats, as well as the occasional high end place. I used to work in restaurants and we both cook alot. We are getting married and are planning a wedding for about 100-120 people. We have talked to a bunch of caterers, and they seem to come in 3 types = high end caterers who charge $125-150pp on up, and you get excellent food but pay through the nose for it; lower end caterers who provide standard, uninteresting wedding fare; and independent caterers who are less established, less organized but might be able to do a good job. the more organized/established caterers on the low and high ends seem to throw in alot of extra expense on a variety of areas - you are still paying $40+/pp for food costs (flank steak with mashed potatoes plus a few apps?) and on the service end as well. We are doing invitations, wine, gifts, etc our selves, but are a little at a loss as to how to find someone who meets our budget for catering.

Does anyone have someone they can recommend who serves interesting, quality food and can do something simple and not outrageously expensive? We are hoping for $80pp +20pp alchohol which we will provide.


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  1. Which caterers have you already ruled out? That might help focus the replies to your question.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Small Potatoes, Left Coast Catering, Melons, Jane Hammond, James Stansfield. A few others, but those are off the top of my head.

    2. Could you do a morning wedding followed by brunch? Everyone loves brunch food, and it's way cheaper than dinner.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pikawicca

        That's a good idea, but we're doing a relatively late rehearsal dinner the night before, and have sent out invites with a 4 p.m. start time, so we're a little locked in.

      2. We used Insalata's in Marin 8 years ago and were very happy. We wanted it to taste like restaurant food not like a banquet. I don't remember what they charged but the food was great. I wonder if more negotiation is possible given the state of the economy??

        1. try Carrie Dove catering - she's doing a friend's niece's wedding and they loved their tasting.

          1. Try Grace Catering in Oakland.
            We used them for a SF reception of the same size
            and they were so easy to work with, aside from their food selections being locally sourced, creative and delicious

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hop

              I would recommend Daniel Ripley Catering in San Francisco. Great service and easy to work with in planning your wedding menu. I used him for a party with a very limited budget.
              The event seemed so grand even though it was not a budget breaker with the food really being tasty and interesting. He also made a beautiful cake to serve and the signature cocktail was out of this world.

            2. I can recommend (and often do) as do many others on this board as well Ann Walker Catering here is a link to other discussions about her on this board http://www.chow.com/search?query=ann+...

              Ann Walker Catering
              40 Kensington Rd, San Anselmo, CA 94960

              2 Replies
              1. re: chefj

                TOTALLY agree that Ann Walker is the best. I found her for our wedding in '09 through chowhound, and my guests still talk about how great the (affordable) food was.

                1. re: chefj

                  Third for Ann Walker. She did my wedding and two friends.