Food Stations (warning: long post)

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 10:54 AM

FH & I have fallen in love with a venue just a little bit of our financial reach--even with saving up for the next couple years I'm not sure I would feel comfortable handing over that kind of cash.

I asked for a free quote from the event planner there and she sent me a quote that said for 120 people would come to $18 000 CAD. This includes room rental fee, coat check, DJ, h'or douerves, a 4-course plated meal and an estimate on the bar (the bar is unfortunately a consumption bar--the bar estimate was at 5 drinks per person.)

I think our budget is going to be around $20 000 for the whole shebang--so with cake, photography, attire, invitations, flowers (although i probably wouldn't even buy centrepieces--I love the venue just as it is), gifts for the bridal party, etc. it would come to way over budget.

My thoughts were that if i managed to somehow get it down to $14 000 for the reception--than I would be able to fit in the rest (and maybe even be under budget.)

I looked over the wedding package she sent me that isn't available on the website and started scrolling through and ran into food stations. It really caught my attention and the prices weren't bad either! $19 PP for a pad thai station which can be vegetarian, $26 PP for a carving station, $7 PP for a baked potato bar, $5 PP for a salad bar.

I do have some concerns--does every single guest get charged for every single station whether they eat there or not? The bill is supposed to be settled before the event--so it must be, right?

I feel a little conflicted about myself and others being charged for a carving station if we didn't eat it (I am a vegetarian and there will be other vegetarian guests) or for guests who don't like thai food to be charged for pad thai. Also--if I get pad thai--I probably am not going to eat a baked potato--it just doesn't really go with the meal--however it does go with the carving station. And I think a salad bar is just a smart and healthy choice to have--lots of people like to eat salad. In the end--with having to pay separtely for h'or douerves ($700 total for 3 pieces PP)--the price would essentially be the same as the plated dinner option.

Also, while I love the thought of interactive stations, are there cons? Is there lots of traffic and waiting around the stations? Do some people not like them? How would grandma who can't walk feel when somebody else had to go get her food and she had to wait at the table and miss out on the "interactive" part, etc.

What do you know about the pricing of food stations? What do you think about food stations?
I would love some feedback!

PS. I think to also cut back we will try to cut the guest list--which also gets us into a room which is $200 cheaper (not a lot but every dollar counts--and cutting the list by 20 saves us about $2000)

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Agape14 Posts : 201 Registered: 12/31/08
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 12:04 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

What I've encountered with the venues offering stations is that you get to decide how much food you want them to provide per station (e.g. thai station to feed 50 people, carving station to feed 60 people, etc). So in that case you wouldn't have to pay for guest per station. But you will most likely end up spending more money doing stations (if you do that instead of a plated meal or traditional buffet) because your instinct will be to over-estimate the numbers to make sure no one's left hungry and that people have enough selection.

One way around that is to ask your guests when they RSVP to provide their preferences. That way if 80 people say they'd likely have meat over thai food, then you can estimate less thai/more meat. But either way, you'll probably end up over-estimating "just in case".

I know you said you loved the venue, but alcohol is where these places really get you (eg. $10 Yellowtail=$28 at a venue). And if you can find a nice venue that allows you to bring in your own caterer and alcohol, you'd likely be able to splurge more on food options since you'll be saving so much money on the booze. With this option though, make sure the place doesnt need too much added decor, because you'll spend your savings on decorations.

Good luck!

 

 

~~Life's tough, wear a cup~~

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 12:28 PM Go to message in response to: Agape14

I'm not sure if it's like this everywhere--but I know it's like this in Canada:

If a venue allows you to bring in your own wine (which this venue does) there is a corkage fee--$20 per bottle. It would be impossible to bring in my own wine and it be cheaper unless I bought $9 bottles or cheaper which you can't really find here in Canada.

So if I was doing food stations--I could ask them to select Pad Thai or a Carving station?
What if they changed their minds when they got there?

I wouldn't be too concerned about lack of food--even if they had to choose Pad Thai or a carving station--there would also be the baked potato bar and the salad bar--another option is glass noodle rolls which I love.


ETA: By the way--if I was to do these food stations--I would make sure there was going to be salad and a baked potato for everybody--they wouldn't have to say whether or not they wanted it--say I have 100 guests--I would get 100 orders of salad and potatoes. The only thing I might want to know before hand is pad thai or carving station.

I did the math and included their cost for h'or douerves.

Pad Thai eaters would cost me $37.75 and Carvery Eaters would cost me 45.75.
Significantly cheaper than the $65-75 plated options.
That would save me over $2000


Edited by: BrighterThanSunshine on Feb 26, 2010 12:29 PM

Edited by: BrighterThanSunshine on Feb 26, 2010 12:36 PM

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Agape14 Posts : 201 Registered: 12/31/08
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 12:56 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

I'm in Canada as well, and what you're describing is very venue specific. There is no blanket $20 corkage fee for all venues across the country. The venue you've picked has instituted that policy to ensure that you go with their extravagantly priced alcohol option. My venue allows me to bring in my own caterer, which in turn is providing me with two certified bartenders and we are providing all of the beverages (alcohol included). All we need to do is get a Special Occasion Permit from the LCBO to serve the liquor (about $75 I think).

In terms of asking guests their preferences, you wouldn't confine them to one item, but knowing what they're likely to pick will help you organize how much food each station would have. So, like in my example, if 80 out of 100 people said they'd probably want meat instead of thai, then you know you don't have to plan for that much thai food. And if all 80 change their minds on the day of the wedding, then they'll be out of luck because there won't be that much thai food.

But like I said, doing stations won't necessarily save you any money. For 100 people you'll be paying for more than 100 total servings. You might pay for something like this: 60 people, carving station; 30 people, thai; 85 people potato; 100 people, salad. That's 275 "people" for only 100 actual guests. And in the end a lot of food might go to waste.

Definitely go with stations if that's what you have your heart set on, but I would throughly investigate the cost first and compare it to a traditional sit down or buffet. Also check out the cost of doing stations for just the cocktail hour. That could be another option.

 

 

~~Life's tough, wear a cup~~

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 1:12 PM Go to message in response to: Agape14

I don't really consider the potato or the salad as a meal though--it's an accompaniment.

So say out of 100 people I had it so that about 25 people for thai, 75 for carvery and than 100 for potato and 100 for salad--to me that is still just "100."

For a person to eat 3 h'or douerves, an order of pad thai (tofu, shrimp, chicken, eggs, onions, bean sprouts, carrots and sweet peppers) as well as have a salad and have a baked potato--that I consider "1 person" and that is the $37.75 I mentionned earlier.

There probably will be extra food. I would probably for more than I needed to--but I don't think I would be paying nearly as much as a plated dinner.

I was considering looking for other places that allowed me to bring in my own catering--but I think I would feel less stressed with less vendors involved and my venue just taking care of the catering for me. I like the idea of getting to go to one venue and them dealing with the room set up, the food, the bar and the DJ. I will probably continue to consider the option of looking for a venue that allows me to bring outside catering--but I might be willing to pay an extra few dollars for the ease of mind that having a venue that deals with everything will bring.

I still am a little concerned about the bar--her estimtae was 5 drinks per person at about $7 a drink--so $35 per person. I know lots of people will drink more than that. Especially with things like 2 glasses of wine at dinner would only give them 3 drinks during the cocktail reception and the after-dinner celebration combined. I know plenty of people who will probably have over 10 drinks. But I also know lots of people that won't drink or may just have a glass of wine or two. A lot of people will be driving, there will be minors and there will be the parents of young children.

I am thinking way too much about a wedding so far off--but since we just bought a house that we will start renting out in May (we got the lease signed) we are about to have some extra cash flow and we want to start to put it towards the wedding. We don't just want to have the reception that we can afford right now--we want to have the reception that we want--so we are kind of organizing through some logistics to get a rough idea of how much it will cost so that we can start setting aside an appropriate portion of our income towards it.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 1:33 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

I've had a couple of experiences with food stations.

Officially, I love them. I think the food is better when it's served at stations (cause you're making small, specifiied portions, rather than mass-producing the same flavor-less dish) and you also encourage people to walk around, which I think helps the overall "party" atmosphere.

The problem, though, is that inevitably there will be very popular stations. At the one I remember best it was the sushi station and the meat carving station. By the time I'd gotten around to doing sushi, all the good sushi was gone. Which sucked. However, it didn't really bother me, cause I was already full, but you should be aware of some stations will be waaaaay more popular than others. I mean, no one ever really goes to the salad bar. You've got to have one cause of the vegetarians, but it is always the least crowded of any buffet or food station venue.

Still, I love them. I think that if you choose food well, you can be forgiven if someone doesn't get to something in time. And I really do love the mingling atmosphere they create.

__________________________________________

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 1:48 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

So Ms. D

would you actually recommend me not budgeting for every person having a salad?
say I have to tell my venue "I want to be able to have X amount of portions being made" so they know how much to charge me--I shouldn't do 1 salad per guest? FH & I are in our heads are going to aim for 100--it will be hard to cut it down--we both have large families and we have a very large circle of very, very close friends. Should I not ask for them to prepare for 100 salads?

I am a vegetarian and I know there will be at least one other vegetarian there as well.

What I love about the stations that they offer is that many are vegetarian friendly.

Pad Thai--my favourite option from the stations they offer (pad thai is actually my favourite food) is so versatile--it can be vegan, vegetarian, have shrimp or have chicken.

Also the Baked Potato bar can also be vegan or vegetarian. The toppings are cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, green onions, salsa, sundried tomato pesto and basil pesto.

So the vegetarians don't really "need" the salad bar.

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 2:09 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

Brighter - I know that some venues do things different. If we had done PP stations, it was based on how many people were there, not how many I thought were going to eat at the station. My point, check with the venue.

 

 

 

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 2:16 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

Just sent the event coordinator an email!

I just asked whether there would be charge for each guest for each station--or whether I can have an amount prepared and be charged according to that.

Fingers crossed!

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myras Posts : 396 Registered: 2/26/10
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 2:18 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

I agree that the bar is where they're really getting you. Five drinks per person? That sounds like a lot. I hate "comsumption" pricing, because you really have no way of knowing whether each of your guests has consumed one or five drinks. Is every single one of your guests even of drinking age? If you can, negotiate a per person charge ahead of time. Also, you do not have to offer a full bar at most places. You often can opt for something like wine/beer/soft drinks, maybe with a specialty drink as well.

Cutting the guest list is very effective in bringing your price down.

I do like stations, but I never have been asked ahead of time which station I will visit (I visit them all LOL!) Usually, stations serve small portions, not full dinners, and people may visit a particular station more than once. Calling people by tables can eliminate too much of a jam at any individual station. So, estimating how much people will eat is not always easy, and it's always better to err on the side of too much, rather than not enough. If your venue has a good banquet planner, you should get reasonable advice on how to plan. But, if you think they're trying to extract money out of you, rather than working for your best interests, then you might consider working with a day-of professional wedding planner, who might save you more money than her services will cost you.
myra@classysassyweddings.com

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 2:41 PM Go to message in response to: myras

Mmm, I also didn't realize that stations were smaller portions.

They are fairly flexible with their bar. They offer both cash, host and ticket bars. However I want to go for the host bar--I never like drink tickets. They then allow you to do a full bar or a partial bar where you select what beverages you want to offer. They also allow you to do a price restriction--"drinks under $8 are offered to the guests by the bride and groom" or a 'cap'--"the bar is hosted by the bride and groom until X dollars worth of drinks have been consumed.'

I am contemplating on the 'partial bar'--offering non-alcoholic beverages, beer, wine and chilled vodka shots (I would say about 40% of our guests are 'very' Russian)

ETA: Oh--and yes 5 drinks is a lot for sume. But I have served at and attended some fairly sloppy weddings, and both of us have some pretty 'wild' friends. I would bet $100 dollars on the Best Man drinking over 10 drinks. I attend galas with his extended family a few times a year--I have seen those cousins get up to no good many times.Then again--there are minors, those who will be driving and those who simply don't drink much. I don't think anybody on our guest list who is of legal age doesn't drink at all--at least not to my knowledge--and I have socialized with all of them. Anyways--I see it probably evening out to around 5 drinks per person. I think that's a fair guess by the event coordinator.

Edited by: BrighterThanSunshine on Feb 26, 2010 2:44 PM

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bosoxgirl Posts : 231 Registered: 2/3/10
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 4:20 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

If a venue allows you to bring in your own wine (which this venue does) there is a corkage fee--$20 per bottle. It would be impossible to bring in my own wine and it be cheaper unless I bought $9 bottles or cheaper which you can't really find here in Canada

I have to laugh. FH and I went to a liquor store/bar/restaurant back in january. You literally walked in and it was a liquor store with a bar and tables so you could sit down and eat. I asked our waitress if we could buy a bottle of wine and drink it at the table. A 7.00 bottle of sutter home had a $30.00 corkage fee. I couldn't believe it. The alcohol is what brings up the price. :(

 

  

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 5:59 PM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

The event coordinator informed me that you are able to say how much of each to make--however she recommends for a lot of things that every guest will want some.

She recommended a carving station for all (except for vegetarians)
If I only choose one pasta station (pad thai, stir fry, pasta)--then she would recommend ordering it for everybody--but if I have more than one, than it isn't necessary.
She recommends a salad bar for everybody.
If we choose a whole baked fish she recommends enough for 50-75%
If we choose a potato bar she would recommend for pretty much everybody.

So it really does end up adding up...

I have only been to one reception with food stations and it was a few years back. I don't think I realized that it was more like a tasting where you go and have a bit of everything. I don't think I did that--but I was a pretty picky eater until recently.

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myras Posts : 396 Registered: 2/26/10
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 7:47 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

am contemplating on the 'partial bar'--offering non-alcoholic beverages, beer, wine and chilled vodka shots (I would say about 40% of our guests are 'very' Russian)

ETA: Oh--and yes 5 drinks is a lot for sume. But I have served at and attended some fairly sloppy weddings, and both of us have some pretty 'wild' friends. I would bet $100 dollars on the Best Man drinking over 10 drinks. I attend galas with his extended family a few times a year--I have seen those cousins get up to no good many times.

The "partial" bar is a good idea. And, although people do like to drink and have a good time at a wedding, that's no excuse to let people get wasted on your dime. A good bartender should know enough to cut people off if they're "up to no good," by which I guess you mean sloppy drunk. And, since you can't know which of these people will be hitting the road afterwards, do the world a favor and cut them off after a certain amount (I do NOT mean give them drink tickets, but rather have a bartender who is careful about who and how much he is serving). I also suggest cutting off alcohol an hour before you want the reception to end. Substitute and coffee/tea bar instead (maybe some sweets or cookies) before people hit the road.
myra@classysassyweddings.com

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Food Stations (warning: long post)
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 7:49 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

Brighter - as an equal opportunity eater (LOL - I eat meat, etc) - I would want to try everything, unless it was something I already knew I didn't like.

Let us know how the numbers pan out.

 

 

 

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