Wedding Planner Abbey Nims Shares Her Planning Journey: Catering & Bar – Wedding Day Match

Wedding Planner Abbey Nims Shares Her Planning Journey: Catering & Bar Services

Contributing writer: Abbey Nims

Today we are talking about, arguably, one of the most important aspects of your wedding: FOOD.

I’m sure we’ve all thought about DIYing our wedding food at some point in our process. Taco Bell party packs if nothing else. The one thing I ALWAYS tell my clients if they are thinking of DIY food? HIRE. SERVERS. You can literally just hire servers. Thumbtack is a great resource for this, but even just a quick Google search will give you some idea of what is available in your area.

DIY: Headache or worth it? Let’s look at the numbers first.

Typical wedding food catering, beef, chicken, probably potatoes and some kind of vegetable, give or take a side or two, usually falls in the $75 a head range. For 100 guests? That’s $7,500. And that’s just food. We haven’t even started on drinks yet. On paper that seems like A LOT, but let’s break this down.

Let’s work with 100 guests. That’s probably three servers, two bartenders, possibly a lead server of some kind to run the show on the catering end. Then you run into rentals. Some caterers will have their own catering equipment. But often times, they rent them. This could be ovens, warmers, grills, tents, propane, dishes, etc. Let’s ballpark that at $1,000. Then you get into alcohol. Assuming you’re thinking of going with beer, wine, and signature drinks, a $2k bar tab will likely get you through cocktails and dinner…perhaps some of the party. However, you will probably have to either switch to a cash bar or raise your hosted amount.

Wedding catering and bar services

So, if we are looking at around $7,500 for food, it might break down like this:

Labor: $600-$1k (depending on staff)
Rentals/supplies: $1k
Alcohol: $2k

Which brings your cost of food to about $3,500 or $35 per person. This is your “golden number.” Now you can make all the diy dinner menus you want and if the cost of food is at or above this $35 per person range, it may be more worth it to hire out your catering. IF the cost of your food came out to $15 per person, go the DIY route! You can always take from the money you’re saving and hire a server or two to take care of food for you during the event. The last thing you want is your dad getting grease on his tie or someone getting spaghetti sauce on your dress because they tried to help serve.

Catering is something I’m currently working through. As Jeremy and I decide the time of day we want to get married, we are thinking about maybe a more afternoon, lighter fare for our wedding meal. This means we can save on catering rentals and keep our per person costs a bit lower. We have even considered a food cart!

If you are from the general Portland, OR area, you know that there is no shortage of food carts, or even bar carts, available. Especially for weddings. Sometimes it’s not any more cost-efficient to hire a food cart, BUT HOW FREAKING COOL.

Of course, at the end of the day, no matter what you eat, you are going to be married. But that doesn’t mean that you and your family don’t deserve a good meal. You’re probably picking up on the idea that that also doesn’t mean you have to compromise on service, or style. You just have to know where to look.

Until next time!

Abbey Nims wedding planner


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