Thursday, June 13, 2013

Financial Mistakes to Avoid with Catering

This was originally part of an older post but I felt it deserved a post of its own.

Usually the reception can be about 40% to 60% of the wedding budget.  The biggest cost is on food and drinks.

In the event that doing DIY with your food at the wedding isn't feasible, the option is to go to a reception hall and/or hire a professional caterer.

Mmmm.  Tasty. 

Here are some things to consider when seeking out a caterer and not losing another dime.


Image found HERE

Walk away if the caterer refuses to do this.  Some caterers prepare the food on-site (ideal) or hours before the event.  You can taste the difference.

Seriously, you expect to shell out all that money and just expect that the food will come out okay???

Don't book a caterer until you taste their food.

ASK HOW MUCH IS THE SERVICE CHARGE (and before you reverse with a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit!!!!)

Soooooo many people forget to calculate this when estimating the reception costs.
This is how a buffet reception that you thought would cost $2500 turn out to be $4000.

Most caterers/reception halls charge ENORMOUS service charges from 18% to 25%.

Some of them apply it to food and drink only, other caterers apply it to the ENTIRE BILL!

Service charge is also taxed, (the restaurant sales tax %).  Can you imagine how much more money you have to spend in the end?

You can look up sales rate tax information for Utah HERE.  The sales tax is generally lower in Provo than in Salt Lake or Park City.

And if you are throwing a big event, a lot of caterers don't like to negotiate the service charge but they are not going to turn down a big event even if it means turning down the service charge from 18% to 10%.

It's all fair game haggling on venue and food.

So put your negotiating powers to use!


I don't think it makes sense to have market price changes on a dessert bar.  It does make sense for fruit, beef, chicken, beef, or seafood.  But there should be a buffer on how much the market price should change, perhaps no more than 3%.  Make sure that is stated clear in your contract.

The goal is to make sure that your consumer rights are protected, so caterers won't take advantage of jacking up the price of food at the last minute.

The "corking fees"
Caterers do this since you're not using their preferred vendor for booze but supplying your own.  (so that you can return your own unopened bottles).  Plus you have to make sure there is control in how many bottles are opened...if they're making $5 extra on opening a bottle, chances are they're not going to bat an eye with serving to minors and especially to people who had way to much to drink.

The "cake slicing fees"
Caterers do this if you are not using them as their caterer or not using their "preferred baker" aka, someone who paid them a kickback so that they show up on their list.  I think it's stupid for a vendor to charge $1.50-$4.00 for A SLICE of cake.  How can you control how big or how little a slice of cake is??

Research the slicing fee, and get. this. out. of. your contract!!

Slice of our cake.  I just realized we've been married a year and forgot to eat a slice of it on our anniversary.
Oh well.
Somebody please bake me a new cake.  It was really good. 

With all of this, that was a reason why we went the cultural hall route.  It is a bit of more work making your own food, but less financial hassle and drama.

It is a business after all, and vendors will look for ways to have you pay more than you really need too.

Remember to read everything on the contract, and ask all your questions before booking a caterer.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome all comments, positive and constructive. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts at Dave is Home!