Oct 192016

Advantages of Having Off-Premise Catering at Your Wedding

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Imagine a formal tea in a centuries-old rose garden or castle, a hip event in a refurbished retro movie theatre, or a poolside banquet at your favorite relative’s beautiful home. How about a ball in a Victorian mansion? Call it formal. Call it casual. Either way, it’s only for you.

Off-premises catering offers an attractive alternative to the more common reception choices like hotels and country clubs. By opening up a plethora of options for location, style, theme, size and menu, off-premises catering allows you to create a very personalized and detailed event that can sometimes cost less than many inside catered affairs.

Another big advantage of off-premises catering is the menu itself. With more experience in designing and handling custom menus than restaurants or hotels, off-premises caterers can offer very imaginative, tasty menus. Catering at the location of your choice demands a professional staff with the knowledge and expertise to make sure all the details come together for a smoothly run event.

Of course, don’t forget the biggest item on the menu; the wedding cake. Many caterers have professional in-house pastry chefs who will design a cake your cake especially how you envision it.

If you know you want a personalized event, but don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, some off-premise caterers work closely with various specialty party facilities and can help you decide what’s right for you.

Some also offer free full-service wedding consulting and event planning, providing you with hassle-free planning for everything from flowers and invitations to dining, entertainment and even travel.

To see a list of some well-known, professional off-premise caterers who are local to North Florida, click here!

Images Courtesy of Davoli’s Catering of Jacksonville, FL.

Apr 092015

Tips on Finding a Wedding Caterer

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Many of the wedding venue options in the Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Orange Park and Amelia Island area allow you to bring in your own catering companies.  This is a great option that many brides and grooms love because they have a lot of flexibility in their wedding menu.

Planning the wedding feast doesn’t have to be complicated. A good caterer will deliver an excellent meal and impeccable service within the specifications of your contract and budget.

A professional caterer should share your enthusiasm for pleasing each guest, but unfortunately, that’s not the only qualifier. You’ll want to address budget, service, the meal itself, and a variety of details with your caterer to make sure that the qualifications match the enthusiasm. Make sure you create a list of questions to ask your caterer!

Finding Professional Service

There is no substitute for professionalism and experience. When selecting your caterer, check out the caterers listed in Premier Bride magazine or at one of the Premier Bride Expo’s! If you go to an expo you can observe the professionalism of the staff. Extremely attentive service for a sit-down meal or cocktail party would require one server for every 10 guests; for a buffet the number is significantly less. Service is still quite good with one server for every 15 to 20 guests. A good caterer will be able to explain these ratios and make suggestions for the best service style and the appropriate number of servers for your budget.

A Meal to Remember

Ah yes, the food. To ensure a quality meal, schedule a meeting with the chef who will prepare it. All of our catering companies provide tastings for you and your groom, remembering your enjoyment there will be the measure of your guest’s enjoyment at the wedding reception.  These tastings allow you to sample food and work out a custom menu for your wedding!

Catering Budget

Found a caterer whose food and service you like? Great. Can you afford them? The best way to determine the catering budget is to decide how much you will spend on each guest. Multiply that dollar amount by the number of guests expected. Then add an additional 10 percent to cover overage and approximately 17 to 20 percent for gratuities. Don’t forget to add your local applicable taxes and any extras that aren’t included in the price.  Make sure each caterer gives you a detailed quote about the expenses.

Down to Details

Once you’ve decided on a caterer then take the time to determine as many additional details as possible. Have a firm agreement, and thoroughly examine your contract. Make sure it clearly states dates, costs and when deposits are due. Your contract should also specify the food and beverages to be served and stipulate the number of servers needed. Check to see that all the services you requested are listed in the contract, such as centerpieces, the wedding cake, decorations for the room and head table and other labor intensive additions such as ice sculptures or any other additional needs. Carefully review postponement policies and cancellation policies. If you have any questions or concerns, this is the time to openly discuss them with your caterer.

Mar 102015

Affordable Wedding Venues in Jacksonville & Surrounding Areas

Catering & Beverage, Reception Venues, Tips and Opinions Comments Off on Affordable Wedding Venues in Jacksonville & Surrounding Areas

How Not to Break the Bank…

If planning a wedding on the First Coast is a challenge, paying for it can be an even greater one. But don’t despair, here are some insider secrets to help you save money when c choosing  your reception site.

Time of Day

Many wedding venues in the Jacksonville area will  book receptions from noon to 5:00 p.m. or from 6:00 p.m. to midnight, and they may charge extra to host a reception that overlaps both time segments. To save money, choose one of these times. Better yet, choose the earlier time slot. Because evening functions tend to be easily booked, choosing the earlier time may give you negotiating power with the wedding venue, especially if their list price is the same for both time frames.

Hammock Dunes Club in Palm Coast

The Day

Saturday’s are the most expensive day of week to have your wedding, no matter what time of the year it is.  If you really want a particular venue, but the Saturday rate is out of your wedding budget think about having a Friday or Sunday wedding.  Almost all wedding venues have reduced rates for those dates.  Or, if you can get married on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, you can typically get a GREAT deal on your wedding venue space.  Not only will you get a great deal on your wedding venue…but you will probably get a great deal with the rest of your wedding vendors as well!

Horse Stamp Inn in Southern Georgia

Time of Year

The date you choose for your wedding may significantly affect reception cost. Peak months are March, April, May, September, October and November. Saturday evenings in December are generally reserved for holiday parties. Most wedding venues will refuse to negotiate prices during these prime months, and many require a minimum budget be met in order to reserve the space. At other times of the year, however, venues are usually more than willing to haggle.  In the Jacksonville area, the slowest wedding months are during June, July and August…especially for the outdoor wedding venues.

Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville Beach

Menu Selection

There are many different types of menu options when deciding what to feed your guests;  buffet, hors d’oeuvres,  food stations or a sit down dinner.  Typically, the buffet is  the most economical choice. Though many new brides assume that a hors d’oeuvres cocktail party will be the least expensive option, often the exact opposite is true. To host a hors d’oeuvres party at mealtime, you should provide 14 to 16 hors d’oeuvres per person. When all of the items are tallied, the total per person cost can be equal to or higher than a plated or buffet meal. Buffet stations also will cut down on the labor cost because they need more servers/cooks for the other options.  Something else to consider is the time of the day the wedding is.  A breakfast meal or lunch menu will be less expensive (typically) then a dinner menu.

Aetna Riverfront in Jacksonville

Beverage/Bar

The largest contributing factor to your overall reception budget is the type of bar you host. Generally, if you are considering hosting a bar for your guests for the full reception (four to five hours), the price can equal or even exceed the meal cost. Many times the venue  will offer an “open bar” package price. These prices are based on a fixed per person cost per hour regardless of the amount consumed. The advantage of the open bar is having a fixed cost to factor into your budget.  If you select a venue that allows you to bring in your own catering a bar service, make sure you ask a lot of questions of what it includes; glassware, dinnerware, linens, servers, etc.

Another way to cut some costs on the bar is only offer beer and wine and possibly a signature drink.

If you need to save money on your open bar, close the bar during dinner, and reopen after the meal. This way you will have bar coverage when it’s needed most.

Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Amelia Island or Southern Georgia the surrounding areas have hundreds of wedding reception options that can fit any budget and price point!  Just make sure that the venue you select is a reputable location that is properly licensed and insured!

To find a complete list of great wedding reception locations please check out our reception guide!

Jacksonville Marriott

Oct 162014

Tips on Hiring a Caterer

Catering & Beverage Comments Off on Tips on Hiring a Caterer

Planning for the food at your wedding reception doesn’t have to be complicated. A good caterer will deliver an excellent meal and impeccable service within the specifications of your contract and budget – the key is great communication with them!

Professional caterers’ should share your enthusiasm for pleasing each guest, but unfortunately, that’s not the only qualifier. You’ll want to address budget, service, the meal itself, and a variety of details with your caterer to make sure that the qualifications match your dreams and expectations.

Start with Premier Bride of Northeast Florida

There is no substitute for professionalism and experience and the caterers featured in our magazine hold these qualities. When selecting your caterer, ask them for  referrals and observe the professionalism of their  staff. Extremely attentive service for a sit-down meal or cocktail party would require one server for every 10 guests; for a buffet the number is significantly less. Service is still quite good with one server for every 15 to 20 guests. A good caterer will be able to explain these ratios and make suggestions for the best service style and the appropriate number of servers for your budget.

Make an Impression

Guests always remember the food. To ensure a quality meal, schedule a meeting with the chef who will prepare it.  Almost all caterers will hold a private dinner sampling for you and your groom and other decision makers (typically 4 people) once you have booked with them.  This provides you an opportunity to try the food and pick out the entrees and sides that you like best.  Another option is to attend a bridal expo where many caterers have samples of their food!

The Catering Budget

Found a caterer whose food and service you like? Great. Can you afford them? Most caterers can work with any budget and help you create a menu to fit it. The best way to determine the catering budget is to decide how much you will spend on each guest. Multiply that dollar amount by the number of guests expected. Then add an additional 10 percent to cover overage and approximately 17 to 20 percent for gratuities. Don’t forget to add your local applicable taxes and any extras that aren’t included in the price.

Details, Details!

Once you’ve decided on a caterer then take the time to determine as many additional details as possible. Have a firm agreement, and thoroughly examine your contract. Make sure it clearly states dates, costs and when deposits are due. Many caterers can also help you with linens, silverware, napkins and other elements needed to complete your special day.  If you have a wedding planner, they should also be able to help you navigate your contract and make sure that no details are left out.   Your contract should also specify the food and beverages to be served and stipulate the number of servers needed. Check to see that all the services you requested are listed in the contract, such as centerpieces, the wedding cake, decorations for the room and head table and other labor intensive additions such as ice sculptures or any other additional needs. Carefully review all policies and including cancellation policies. If you have any questions or concerns, this is the time to openly discuss them with your caterer. Also ask your caterer about providing a bar if your reception venue allows it!

For a list of caterers in Northeast Florida visit our Catering Category 

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