You’ve begun to envision your perfect wedding, and finally narrowed down your wedding venue choices. Both look the part and have great amenities. The primary difference? One wedding venue has their own catering, the other venue uses outside catering.
We have five things to consider when deciding between off premise and on premise catering.
#1 Compare Apples to Apples
The trickiest part in deciding between a venue that offers catering and one that doesn’t is figuring out pricing.
When looking at independent venues or hotels that offer their own catering, they often charge per person. The price of the venue itself is wrapped in the per person catering price.
Venues that use outside caterers charge a rental fee only.
To get an estimate of what the bottom line looks like at both locations, pull pricing from some of the caterers they recommend. Have them send you an estimate for the type of dinner service you’re considering, whether plated or buffet. And be sure to ask about additional costs such as china, delivery and service charges.
Taking the extra steps to look at the big picture will help you make a final decision.
#2 Recommended Catering List
If you do choose a venue that doesn’t offer catering, they will likely have a Recommended Caterers List. The list of caterers will vary in price and cuisine style, giving you plenty of options.
Some venues will only allow you to use caterers on their list. Don’t see this as a negative. These caterers have proven their quality and service with previous couples. The caterers will also be familiar with the venue, creating a seamless experience.
Should you want to bring in your own caterer, talk to the venue. They may be flexible if your caterer is well-established and well known.
When choosing a venue that allows outside caterers, you gain the flexibility on your choice of catering.
#3 Balancing Your Wedding Professionals
Each wedding professional you bring on board for your wedding is an additional contact and payment to maintain.
Choosing a venue that provides catering simplifies this process. Your venue contact will not only assist you the day of the wedding coordinating details, but will ensure your food and drinks are executed properly as well.
For example, as you do your tasting, you’ll also conduct a final walkthrough and make layout decisions. Your meetings may be longer, but you’ll cover more ground in a shorter period of time. One less contact may save your sanity for couples with busy schedules or without a wedding planner.
#4 The Rental Question
When deciding between on premise and off premise catering, consider the impact this makes on what you’ll need to rent.
Venues that provide their own catering include china, glassware and silverware in their cost. Some venues even provide basic wedding chargers. This means you won’t see this as a separate line item on your bill.
However, if you bring in an outside caterer you may need to rent these items. You’ll be able to rent them from your caterer, or you may choose to use a rental company if you have a certain pattern or design in mind.
#5 Taste Your Way to a Decision
Foodie couples may be hesitant to book a venue that provides their own catering. They may be nervous about flexibility, range of culinary cuisine options and overall food quality.
Don’t feel pinned down. These venues have experienced chefs that can offer a wide range of culinary options and ability to meet the dietary needs of your guests. Chefs love a challenge. So if you have an out of the box idea or culinary style you want to go with, ask to meet with the chef before booking the venue. They’ll likely be as excited as you are to do something unique.
If you’re still nervous, book a tasting. You may have to pay a small fee up front for a tasting if you haven’t booked the venue yet, but if you’re particular, it’s well worth it.
The same goes for optioning off-premise caterers. A tasting is more than testing out the food quality. It’s an opportunity to work with their team and see if they have the service, creativity and responsiveness you’re looking for.