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Event catering that won't break the bank?

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Hi all -

My fiance and I are trying to figure out how to throw a nice cocktail reception wedding that won't cause us to go bankrupt. In DC, this is no small task. We've already ruled out dinners, and we'd like to stay in the evening timeframe, so we were thinking a later start time (like 8pm) and then light hors d'oeurves/cake/awesome open bar. (priorities).

Problem is, I can't seem to get caterers to respond promptly, and the few I have talked to briefly seem to start around $60 a head just for hors d'oeurves. So, we started thinking about possibly having a restaurant cater.

1) has anyone done this, and if so, how did it work? does the restaurant just drop off food and leave? do you rent plates/etc through them also? recommended or bad idea?
2) recommendations for specific restaurants? (if we could keep it in the $30-$40 range that would be great, but i might be ridiculous for even dreaming of this. i don't know - please tell me!)
3) if you have a recommendation for a standard wedding caterer that is cheap and good, let me know that too - we're not tied to a restaurant.

thanks in advance...
PChow

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  1. Start here:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829472

    One idea that comes up quite a bit is hiring one or two food trucks.

    1. I used Lebanese Bakery in Alexandria for a birthday party, it was appreciated by the guests and I could actually afford it!

      1. Here are some things that may help you. Ask all potential caterers/restaurants for reviews. Very important.

        To see if they are a good fit with your needs - some of this is obvious- identify the number of guests, how many are children, elderly. When/Where the Wedding Site is & does it have a commercial kitchen the caterer can use the day of the event, including refrigerator/walk-in space. Are you thinking of seafood, meat, veggies - and/or a combination for your hors d-ouvres. Do they have a personable & trained staff. Can they take care of rentals & delivery/pick up for you, after you make your selections.
        Are you going to serve Wine & Beer, plus? Or Cocktails?
        Cash Bar? that will help with expense, you can provide the champagne for the toast.
        Best of luck, hope this helps.