How much are you spending on Catering?

Hi Ladies,

I am currently finalising the catering for the wedding and went to meet with some caterers over the weekend.

I recieved a formalised quote yesterday afternoon and was shocked with the total sum of £7500!

This cost is based on 120 guests, canapes, three course meal, a cheese buffet, all table linen, tables, chairs, equipment and staff costs.

The trouble is that our venue has approved caterers, so we have a limited choice. We may be able to negotiate slightly but think it is unlikely we will get it all for under £7000.

Is this too expensive?


  • ashbrideashbride Posts: 377
    Our venue lets us have the choice of our own caterers thank god, we were looking at a venue in surrey and they said we had to choose from their approved caterers and we were quoted £32 per head for a bbq the same catering company charges £15 per head for a private party but because they know its a wedding and you have to choose them its a rip off. we then decided to look for a venue where we had more freedom and we have chosen a gorgeous barn in oxford and we are being charged by the caterers we have picked £10 per head for a bbq including, chicken kebab, handmade burgers and sausages, pototoe salad, 4 leaf salad, comndiments cuterlery, linens etc and we are having a hog roast for the evening guesta at £4.50 per head! bargain! The venue is only costing £2000 on a saturday in august inc tables and chairs all day use until midnight , our civil ceremony and the bar and bar staff and the use of their kitchen!

    I think you should maybe look around or try and haggle??

    I think that is its very expensive what you have been charged but do you really need the canapes and cheese buffet? as a 3 course meal for anyone is very filling and you may find if you order it all so much will be thrown away.

  • ashbrideashbride Posts: 377
    how much is your venue costing as surely tables and chairs should be in the venue cost otherwise what are you paying the venue for other than their space? x
  • lmbarklmbark Posts: 339
    The venue is £4000, we've already put a 50% deposit down on the venue so don't want to change that.

    We can't really shop around for caterers as there are only 6 approved caterers to choose from and the caterers who have provided us with this quote are one of the cheapest.

    I think you're right about the cheese buffet, it may not be necessary as people will be full up with a 3 course meal.

    The tables and chairs do come with the venue, but the chairs are basic wooden folding ones. We had the choice of paying £2.50 each for nicer chairs but have decided to stick with the ones provided to avoid the extra cost.

    We definately want a 3 course sit-down meal so that isn't really negotiable. A bbq or hog roast would be fab but the wedding is in April so we would have to pay for a marquee in addition if we were to opt for that.

    I'm a bit concerned that the costs are spiralling out of control!
  • gemmanicholsgemmanichols Posts: 227
    We're paying just over £6k for almost exactly what you have (114 guests, canapes, 3 course sit down, evening buffet (only catering for 80 in the evening as some people will be full) also includes linen, staff, equipment, cutlery, crockery but they are also serving our wine and running our free bar all night and not charging corkage).

    It's by far the most expensive thing. Our venue was £3k and does include nice chairs and tables.

    Even the alcohol for the entire day only came to £1.5k from Majestic Wine which I personally think is much more important than the foodimage

    Anyway, my only point was that my caterers are charging a similar sort of amount for a similar sort of service.

    Definitely haggle. I'm rubbish, rubbish, rubbish at it but I know other people who've got loads knocked off prices.
  • lmbarklmbark Posts: 339
    Thanks meg4,

    I'll definately try haggling. Glad to know that you're paying a similar sort of price.
  • hi i think this sounds about right considering you must have a fabulous venue judging by the rental cost....

    ours is £4750 venue hire

    then just under £9000 for champagne reception, canapes, 3 course meal (inc wine, and glass of pink champagne for toast) and hog roast for 75 people x x x x
  • lmbarklmbark Posts: 339
    Thanks's really reassuring to know that this isn't completely absurd.

    It's ridiculous how much everything costs as soon as you mention the word 'wedding'.
  • gemmanicholsgemmanichols Posts: 227
    Quoted:'s really reassuring to know that this isn't completely absurd.

    I know what you mean. It sounds crazy but I almost don't mind paying so much if I know other people are and therefore I'm not being taken for a *complete* mug. Actually, writing it down makes it seem even crazier!
  • Eleni87Eleni87 Posts: 214
    Ive been quoted £2310 for a 3 course meal and drinks for 40 people

    Im also having a posh BBQ in the evening for £1,105 which should feed 60. Im assuming that my day guests will only pick at the BBQ since they will have had a massive meal only 3 hours before.

    I thought that was expensive!
  • lrw0250lrw0250 Posts: 495
    Our venue is also a converted barn hire and is £2500 and all that is for is the space, no furniture or anything. Thankfully they will let us have any caterers we want , but ended up going with one they recommended who is local and knows the venue very well and is used to providing all the furniture and linen for weddings held there. We are paying just over £5000 for a 3 course sit down meal, with 2 choices for each course for 100 people and an evening BBQ for 200 people, including all the furniture and linen hire, staff costs , running the bar etc. We will prbably spend around another £1000 on bubbly and wine. It might work out more expensive than a hotel or the like, but its a completely blank canvas, so we can do whatever we like with it.
  • I dont' think it's ridiculous, I also had the same problem. I had 6 approved catering companies to choose from, went the cheapest and so far I've been impressed. The venue is charging £1500 for hire on top of that.

    They quoted me just under 6K for everything except the cheeseboard, evening buffet of any sort would cost more. We've taken off the canapes to reduce costs and have opted for a cash bar for the evening, though we have to pay £200 for the priviledge which I think is really mean considering how much they'll get from it anyway.

    What really got me about these companies is that they charge you for feeding staff and getting staff home in taxis.

    I would ask about the linen hire as depending what I chose the price came down. Bog standard white/ivory linen is cheapest and the more fancy stuff costs more (obvious now!). I am even considering buying my own linen napkins to save £60! A £1 each they want to charge!
  • rossi350rossi350 Posts: 173
    We have had to do our whole wedding on a budget. We getting married then onto High Barn in Gt Bardfield. We're having Hog Roast + salads, pasta's + veggie option, for about 80 people then in the evening we are having a cheese buffet, with pate's, quiche, etc for 150 people. I have haggled ALOT lol and managed to get food bill down to £1005 for the whole day!!! We have also got to pay for table linen £40.

    Have haggled through the day really. Got alot of money off for paying cash! Worth a try to haggle everytime.

    I can't wait. Even if we had big budget we woldnt change a thing xxxxx
  • We're like you Rossi350 we've got a gorgeous village hall and havin a mixed meat hog roast with salads and rolls etc, followed by buffet ourselves and its costing £800 for 90 in the day 150 on the night!
  • rossi350rossi350 Posts: 173
    HIgh Barn have a recommended list that you ave to use really. You can use your own but its made quite difficult, hence why we went with their own caterier but this actually worked out the cheapest once i'd haggled lol.

    I can't wait. 174 days to go lol
  • carren123carren123 Posts: 15

    We're also having a village hall wedding and I've just started getting in quotes. The first one I have had was for £20,000!! I couldn't believe it! This is for 140 people, canapes on arrival and then 3 course meal. We would still have to hire our own furniture. Not even the evening buffet as we are doing this ourselves. They then wanted to charge us £2000 to handle our drinks! I'm hoping that the rest start coming in at a more reasonable price, and seeing some of yours has made me feel better that this is one off! I would want Gordon Ramsey cooking it for that! Had a real panic that this was just the price and we would have to rethink all our plans!

    My venue doens't come with any recommended caterers so I guess it should be easier to haggle and look around but not really sure where to look, has anyone got any recommendations?
  • Hi Carren I just literally thought of what food I wanted googled caterers in our area and emailed all of them and got a number of responses it was amazing the difference in price though but think I got a good deal now! image
  • nickkipnickkip Posts: 686
    We have a barn wedding, well reception. feed 78 in the day and 90 in the evening.

    Relatively simple menu, I would rather have a good solid menu exquisitely done and appreciated rather than feed very high end choices to a group of people whom I don't know that they would all appreciate.

    £3,8k inc VAT inc corkage. Corkage was the one that was killing me, some of the charges are just plain ridiculous. I would have had a fit paying £20 a bottle when I watched a pallet of 130 bottles get loaded onto one of my company vans last week to go to my caterers.

    Find a caterer you get on with, its invaluable. At our final meeting we had agreed to go for a bbq in the evening and although we loved their food, we wanted something sweet to finish with. Our catering manager handed us the trade price list for an organic ice cream company and let us choose mini-pots (ala Hagen Dasz) and then sent me the quote with the same prices + £10 for serving them. She could have screwed me into the ground but chose not to.
  • SummerBeetleSummerBeetle Posts: 478
    I have a marquee and am having hog roast plus salads / rolls / apple sauce etc for 100 people for 1045 pounds. I have got champagne from France and spent 300 on it. The bar is from the local pub and is free, and guests are charged normal pub prices, although FiL2b is putting lots of money behind the bar so guests won't have to buy many drinks themselves. I'm waiting for the pub to quote for wine for the tables and welcome drinks x
  • mousenosemousenose Posts: 304
    my mum is doing all my food fopr me in our village hall reception, not sure how much it will cos but i dont think it owuld come to much more than a few hundred pounds!
  • lmbarklmbark Posts: 339
    I started this thread as a result of being quoted £7500 to cater for 120 people which included a 3 course meal and cheese board in the evening.

    I was gobsmaked and wanted to find out if this was normal or a rip off. I have since found out that I think the caterers who provided me with original quote were pushing their luck as they know that they are one of only 6 approved caterers that can be used at our venue.

    I have since contacted a couple of the other approved caterers and am really pleased that one that was recommended on this website has quoted me £5280!!!!!!!!!

    That's over £2k cheaper, how can the other caterers justify their costs? I'm going to contact the original caterers to let them know that another caterer can provide the same menu for more than £2k cheaper.

    I think this acts as a reminder that just because it's for a wedding, doesn't take away your right to shop around for a decent price and haggle with suppliers. After all, it's a consumer's market at the moment as we're all skint and they need our business!!!!

    Good Luck Ladies
  • feline761feline761 Posts: 1,477
    Hi Imbark - just wanted to support what you just said. We are getting married in a barn conversion and our paying £3K venue hire (space only - but they only do one wedding per week). They have recommended caterers but don't object if you use others not on their list. I got like for like quotes from 3 with exactly the same menu and requirements and the difference was astonishing.... one of them was over £1.5K more expensive just on food, another wante dto charge us £300 (non-refundable) for the privelege of using their pay bar etc etc. Eventually (after feeling pretty gobsmacked and fearing for our budget!) we settled on a lovely company who are charging £4.5K to feed 125 people canapes and a 2 course sit-down lunch, as well as 175 people sausage butties and cones of chips in the evening.... this includes service, VAT. They aren't charging us anything for us to serve our own alcohol and are running an evening pay bar for free. Additionally they are providing an ice cream trike for 150 guests and a sweetietable for kids in the afternoon. Our alcohol costs and equipment charges are on top of that but this still compares so favourably to the other quotes....that it really really really is worth shopping around....

    good luck everyone
  • nickkipnickkip Posts: 686
    lmb glad you found a better price!

    I would totally agree, I'm days away from the big day and last night my brother was round with his girlfriend.

    "When you guys get married, I'll hold your hand all the way through but there are 2 things I insist you do. Take out insurance the moment you book a date and learn to haggle"

    I think, unfortunately for most consumers, there is a habit here in England of us just accepting whatever we are given as read. We've certainly not had to scrimp but we have saved money everywhere. It almost feels like if you have the money, you should accept whatever quote you are given.

    Suit hire:- I smiled politely and told him I would sign when he knocked £xxx off the bill. It was only 5% but I didn't care, every little I save on stuff I know is overpriced goes towards my honeymoon

    Photographers:- Ordered our pre-wedding shoot pictures for my parents gifts and put a pre-order in for more pictures of our kids over the next year, saved 20% off the costs by just asking.

    Florists - Swapped some marketing knowledge for a reduction

    Finally my favourite proof of how the word wedding equals rip-off Britain

    "I'm getting married, I need a people carrier just to take some guests from my parents home to the church"


    "Hi, I need to get some delegates to the conference centre next to the church via people carrier"


    That's some mighty expensive ribbon they haveimage

    [Modified by: lilelf on June 08, 2009 08:14 AM]

  • JoannannzJoannannz Posts: 1
    Typically with catering, they charge per head. For my 150 guests, we are paying close to 7,000. Make sure you ask them for any specials they are having. Try to negotiate.. Even if they stand firm on their price quote, it's totally worth the try.. =) It also depends on what season of the year you will be having your wedding. I'm having a winter wedding.. Meaning, thousands less expensive.. I did ALOT of research before choosing a caterer.. Time consuming, but worth my time.. It's important to have delicious food, but saving money is a plus also. With our economy, i got great price quotes for my wedding and i didn't have to settle for less. So it's been great for me.

    I have started a blog about my wedding planning. Check it out!
  • katiejones2bkatiejones2b Posts: 996

    It all depends what you are prepared to pay, my eyes nearly popped out of my head at the 20,000 quote! Our highest quote was £4,000, but we are having either hog roast or fish & chips which will work out around 2,000 for our 120 guest including ice cream van for dessert image

    good luck with haggling everyone image xx
  • marlonbabyukmarlonbabyuk Posts: 243
    Ours is about £17.5k for room hire, two courses (using wedding cake as dessert), half bottle of wine and third bottle of champagne each, another glass of champers for the toast, fruit juice, water, unlimited tea/coffee, evening buffet of cheese and crackers. Linen is £1,200 on top from a separate company.

    This is for 152 guests.
  • Count yourselves lucky girls! I'm having a kosher weddings, so it's costing just under £18k for the catering (canapes, three courses, all the alcohol) plus we have to pay another £12k for the hall. It's really bad! That was actually one of the more reasonable caterers as well...
  • aliceelizabethaliceelizabeth Posts: 1,533
    we're buying loads of buffet stuff from waitrose and having a bbq lol

    total estimated cost...errr... £1600 image and that is for a realllly reallly nice deal, £20 worth of food per person
  • steph_xuksteph_xuk Posts: 541
    Wow £7500 is crazy expensive!! Im paying £9.95 per head for a BBQ.. Maybe im just a cheapskate tho :P

  • Wedding Caterer from Oxford here. Just to let you know that caterers are often looking at a cost of around £30 when they are providing a 3 course sit down meal to include bringing in kitchen equipment, staffing, food costs, equipment and linen. Just wanted to point that out so it puts figures in to perspective! No real reason to charge more for a wedding for us. The costs and the costs - and they are high for one off events!

  • Mrs S 2BMrs S 2B Posts: 366 New bride

    I'm looking at paying about £50 per head for canapes, 3 courses and a cheese board but this is for a summer weekday wedding in a rural area. I know friends have been quoted double this in London and the home counties. I might be providing my own linen napkins too though since I want them a specific colour and I'm not bad on a sewing machine. I don't think your quote is completely unreasonable for what you are getting but there is certainly room to haggle.Its amazing what changing one thing can do the quote - I have been told that having a vegetarian starter can bring the cost down significantly.

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