"The more pasisonate the cook, the better the flavors" -Charles M. Carroll

Friday, June 7, 2013

Working Within Budgets


Let's talk about budgets.

For me, it has negative connotations- I have my mother to thank for that because she has always disliked "budget planning". Really though, budgets are a good thing, both in your personal finances and for planning parties.

While working in the catering industry (and getting married less than a year ago myself),  I've learned a lot about actual costs, what to expect, and what to plan for... and I'm here to share my findings with you.

I promise if you read and follow my tips you don't have to end up looking like this guy.

Things to Consider

First, do your research! It's a good idea to get an approximate price range for what you're buying- that way your budget will be more realistic.

For catering, check out several companies' websites. Most will have price lists online, and others you can get just by emailing or calling for more information. When people ask us to do a wedding reception for them with four different items for 300 people- all under $1,000- it usually means they haven't done their research.

Second, prioritize. When my fiance (now husband) and I were setting budgets for our wedding, we decided what was important to us. Photography and food were much more important to us than a wedding cake (in fact, we ended up never getting a cake).

If you really don't care what kind of food you serve, a deli tray from your local grocery store might do the trick. However, if you really want to impress, delight, and feed your guests, it's better to hire a professional caterer. Furthermore, if you want to have amazing food, consider having your event in a backyard where it'll cost next to nothing as opposed to a reception center. Again, it's all about your priorities.

As a catering company we've noticed a few trends for weddings in Utah. The average budget in Utah is $10,000-$12,000 whereas the national average is about $28,000 ($63 per head for catering) Your catering budget should be about 30% of your total budget. Of course, not everyone fits into the budget but it's good to know what wedding professionals expect.

When you have your budget it is a good idea to figure out what you want for your party. I've written previously about having food expectations.

How Savory Works With You

The customers who haven't done research are also surprised when they see charges for staff members, disposable ware, etc on their invoice. We're not trying to "nickle and dime" you, these are just costs that we have to cover. It's like buying a car. You can't buy a car without paying for insurance.

However, for those with strict budgets, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Savory offers pick up and delivery options for your event. This option completely eliminates staff charges (one of the most expensive items). With a pick up or delivery, we make the food fresh and you get to serve it yourself. A great option for those super DIY-ers! Another option is for you to provide the disposable ware (plates, cups, napkins, etc) yourself.

In addition to eliminating certain items, you can also choose inexpensive items. For example, a pasta or chicken dinner will inherently cost less than a salmon or a fillet mignon dinner; our menus are completely customizable for your convenience. And if you're thinking of going "cheap" and using Kneaders, our prices are almost identical on fruit trays and cookies, but our food quality and presentation is worlds above!

The last suggestion I have for you is to try to trim your guest list. For big events like weddings, your final guest count will be about 60% of all mailed invitations. Not all events will fit into this equation, you can inquire for more details.

I hope these ideas and tips will help you as you are planning wonderful events. You might also want to inquire about some additional vendor discounts that can help you save money. Choose Savory for your professional catering: no one will go home hungry- not the guests or your wallet!

I want to know what you think! Are these ideas helpful? What else have you found works when preparing budgets- and staying within them- for events?

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