My G2B and I had plenty of great ideas when it came to catering; we discussed having a full buffet vs. hors d'oeuvres. At first, we decided wanted stations and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Well after meeting with a couple caterers our dreams seemed unattainable. There were just so many little add ons that add up to big bucks! Sure adding one more passed appetizer was only $2 more a person, by the time you multiply that by about 125 and pay the person passing it and cooking it, that one measly little item was going to cost an additional $500! We had one quote that was more than 75% of our budget, so it was back to the drawing board. I would have to say that Andrew and I are pretty relaxed laid back people, but this aspect of the planning was proving to be a bit overwhelming.
We knew that we wanted to provide our quests with a nice spread, but we could not afford to break the bank. Then one day, Andrew remembered that a man from his fraternity owned a catering company here in Charlotte. He was a tad bit older than us, but Andrew had met him a couple of times at alumni events. We had contacted him to get a feel for his pricing and it was music to our ears! We ended up nixing the stations and going for a full buffet instead. We will be having some appetizers during cocktail hour, and a full meal including baked chicken and a carving station (woo hoo!) for less than half of our first quote. We were delighted, we met with the owner that week and signed the contract. Oh and best of all, our caterers have a large truck with a full kitchen on it, so they will literally be cooking everything on site, no soggy reheated food!
We were lucky that we chose a venue with no suggested vendor list, this way we are free to comparison shop and really find the vendors that are perfect for us and our budget! I would recommend while you are planning your wedding to really use your personal connections, they might be able to offer you the best options at the best prices. Also when it comes to catering, have a couple different options priced out, I assumed that stations and heavy hors d'oeuvres would be less expensive but I was wrong.