Decisions, decisions

I initially wanted to post this dilemma I’m in on the Cozy Cot Malay / Muslim weddings forum, but then I realised it’s way too long for a forum post so I doubt anyone will entertain my question there. I’m hoping the kakak-kakak kahwin network of bloggers that I have made friends with virtually / blog followers I’ve gathered over these few months would campak your opinions on this crucial decision I’m about to make! So please, you guys! I have faith in you so give me as many comments as you can OK!

I didn’t want to talk about it here initially because it would mean revealing a part of my proposed budget, and I didn’t want to do that because, well, I intended to get the whole wedding over and done with first! Money is a sensitive issue when it comes to parents and their faces (I really hate this F word), and although I am the one footing the whole entire bill, not them, however when it comes to money spent on the wedding, it still is a big deal to them.

No, they’re not expecting me to spend $60 k like those parents in the Refleksi drama; in fact they know I am striving to keep costs as low as possible and they know the words ‘wedding’ and ‘budget’ are practically Siamese twins in my dictionary. However, they still prefer that money-related information are kept within the nuclear family first, and should other people like their friends or extended family or relatives need to know because they’re curious or are doing some early surveying, they should approach them personally and not find out from outside sources, like oh, the internet.

Now, I know that I have family (some siblings, aunts, cousins) among my (silent) readers, so I am taking a big risk here. However, after that above preamble I hope you would continue your silence and keep whatever you have been reading to yourselves. I have faith in you guys too ok! 

Alright. *Takes deep breath.* Here goes!

Hi everyone, I would like your opinions on catering. My wedding is in December 2013 so I need to settle my catering ASAP.

I’ve contacted several caterers and done some food tasting, but none has impressed me much thus far. I’m not asking for anything fancy, just briyani dam that’s fragrant and flavourful, with tender and generous kambing.

I found one caterer (whose food I’ve yet to taste) and he’s offering me these for $14/pax for 500 pax:

– Briyani dam kambing (the kind that would be scooped direct from the periuk)

– Ayam masak merah

– Dalcha

– Acar limau / nenas

– 3 types of drinks: Hot drink (Teh ‘O’), cold drink (fruit punch / lemonade), chilled plain water

– 3 types of kuih (epok-epok & 2 sweet types – I asked for one fruit tart and the other some Malay talam to be chosen later)

– Bubur (choose from kacang / pulut hitam / terigu)

– Laksa (this one he says is complimentary)

– Fruit (anggur / pisang)

– Kendarat staff (5 pax)

– Washing staff (3 pax)

– 50 packets berkat nasi  

Additional complimentary items:

– Fresh flowers and some name engraving thing (I think he means a table sign with my name and my fiancé’s name in fancy font)  for every guest table (15-20 tables)

– Fresh floral arrangements for bride & groom’s table, wedding favours table & dessert corner

– Decorated menu signs on the buffet table

Bear in mind I’m actually only engaging him for food and logistics (cooking at his own void deck and transporting the food) because my venue rental includes tables and chairs, and decorator at separate fee, but he says he wants to give me the decorative items because he knows receptions at my type of venue usually have really basic decoration and he doesn’t like to see receptions ‘bare’ and ’empty’ so he’s giving me those additional items in order to make my reception look nice and proper.

Actually, when I first contacted him, I honestly told him my budget which is $12/pax, but he asked for $13. I agreed.

Then, he reported to me that he had a problem because the 2 contacts whom he usually rents cooking equipment and cutlery from are fully booked for my wedding date. He found an alternative supplier but since he’s not a regular, the rental is much higher so he asked me for $15/pax. He was open with me throughout; he even told me how much he is usually charged by the 2 regular suppliers, and how much the new one is charging. He told me he was planning to just put his own deposit down for that more expensive supplier, and that should I not engage him, that is his own cost to cover. I then actually helped him source for another supplier who could give him a cheaper rate (that’s another story!), tellling him that I really can’t let my budget go up so this is one way I can help him. I was really hoping to get his catering at $13/pax, but after he went to see the supplier’s equipment himself, he came to me with a proposal for food and additional decorative items an additional $500 from the initial agreed price, i.e. $14/pax instead of $13.

Now, I don’t know why I went to such great lengths to help him source for another supplier when I’ve not even tasted his food nor met him personally! I only talked to him on the phone and via sms. I’m only going by my gut feeling based on my cousin’s feedback; he catered for my cousin’s friend’s engagement, and according to my cousin the briyani was fragrant, kambing was tender, ayam masak merah was delicious and the quantity was more than enough. She got to bring packed food home even though she’s just a friend and not a relative.

He also spoke to me nicely and patiently all the time, in a fatherly manner, and he sounded very sincere in wanting to make my event a nice and proper one. He also assured me that he will make sure the food would be flowing til the end of the event, and should the desserts (kuih and bubur) run low, he would try his best to make sure that the dessert table would not be left empty (meaning he would top it up with more of the same, or a different kuih if needed). I asked him about when we need to make a deposit, and he says he doesn’t usually set a certain deposit for his customers, preferring to work on the basis of trust. And he told me not to worry, he’s got my date down and he’ll reserve it for me even though we haven’t even met and he hasn’t got a single cent from me! He told me I can take my time to talk it out with my parents first, to see if we’re really set on engaging him, and he won’t change the price we’ve verbally agreed on… So nice of him, right?

So I would like opinions on whether the price is worth what he’s offering in terms of food, service and complimentary items. When I started planning my wedding, I told my mom to cut down the no. of guests to 500 instead of the usual 1000 over, because I wanted to save money. But if I were to pay $7000 to feed 500 people, when I see other BTBs getting packages starting at $8500 for 1000 pax, I feel like I’m not getting value for my money.

I’ve checked with the decorator; their basic package actually includes artificial floral arrangements for the 15 guest tables, with the option of changing to fresh flowers at $15 per table. I told her about my caterer offering to give fresh flowers, so she said in that case she can’t lower the price for her basic package,  but she can replace the artificial floral arrangement with things like ribbon tie backs for the chair covers, etc.  

I know it’s only a difference of $500 from the initial agreed price, but that $500 could determine whether or not I get videography for my wedding, which lasts so much longer than fresh flowers on the actual day.

Opinions please, everyone!


10 thoughts on “Decisions, decisions

  1. Actually right, it is the same everywhere. 500 pax food is usually more ex per head then 1000 pax food. :/ I’m not very particular about food. To me they’re all about the same. So fragrant rice or not, I’m okay. If I can source for a cheaper and acceptable tasting food, I’ll probably get that. Maybe you should give the food a try first? Who knows not to your liking? Taste is subjective kan.. :/ If you really like the food and the price can’t be cheaper, maybe just take it up? About the videography, just close one eye and engage one? Heh. Sorry I can’t be of much help! :/

    • Yes I know that.. It’s just that for 14 per head macam limited right the food?

      Ok, say minus 400 for the fresh flowers jazz, 400 for kendarat and washing staff, 1200 for void deck rental and logistics and cooking equipment and cutlery.. that’s $5000 for food for 500 people.. means $10 per pax.. briyani kat luar beli maybe $5 to $6.. left $4 for laksa and dessert and fruit..

      Hahah ok berkira down to the last dollar seh but reasonable I guess.. Maybe I’ll try to negotiate for extras like some bone steak or what for the family the night before. Sedapkan hati that it’s value-for-money. They don’t have another event until May (small family business lah) so to wait until then to confirm macam lama nah.. What if in the end I don’t like, then lagi susah nak cari yet another caterer! 😦

      As for videography.. I know what you mean, just engage lah kalau nak sangat! I think in the end I might bust my budget by 1k.. 😦

      Thanks anyway for your comment! No worries I think I just need to have some assurance that I’m making the right move..

      • Haha I think I busted my budget by dont know how many k ready. Now you know why I can’t be of much help. =x

        Now that you said it, $14 for just that macam not worth it. But after you calculated to the last dollar minus all the flowers, logistics etc not bad I guess.. And even more worth it if the food is up to your expectations. Initially I wanted 500 pax too thinking I could save on food. But most caterers quoted me a price that’s almost the same as 1000 pax. In the end my parents also decided that 500 pax not enough for them. -.-

        Unless you really wanna invite 1000 to make the food worth it. Heh. Or look for alternative caterers.. There are some out there that are cheaper. Tak tau how’s the standard like though. Or cut corners on some other parts of the wedding?

        Videography $500 I assume your HTB is paying the other $500? If not maybe share with him? 🙂

      • Haha boleh gitu eh invite 1000 just to make it worth it.. Don’t think I’ll do that. Difference of 1.5 k is still money.. Besides, if I invite more I’ll have to make my reception longer, and that means paying more for extra hours of venue rental. Wedding favours and invites have to be increased too. Like that, from 1.5k, can end up paying 2k+ more. Boleh beli fridge tahan 5 tahun oi! Hahahah. Or gi honeymoon jauh sikit / lama sikit.

        Yes, videography is shared with my fiancé. Initially we didn’t want any, nak save cost katakan.. But then I gatal go tengok wedding videos and I decided I wanted to capture the important moments in video. The getting ready, the nikah, the place with decoration, a novel activity that I thought would be fun to get my family to do, the adorable kids running around / climbing all over the small playground within the premises, the kecoh pakcik makcik. On his side they’re even more of a riot, and there should be a dance performance thrown in by the family so it would be so sayang if not captured on (professionally taken) video. But our receptions are on different days so that means videography pun got extra charge. 😦

      • I cut so many corners already dunno where else to cut haha! No wedding cake, no kompang, no entertainment (my mom wants to sponsor a DJ but.. that depends if he will play my choice of songs, otherwise I just have piped-in music playing on loop) no photobooth. Basically no-frills lah, my wedding! But I haven’t got the wedding favours yet so I could source for really cheap ones. And the wedding car might be borrowed (hoping my fiancé can pull some strings with a rich family friend) rather than rented so that’s a few hundred dollars saved..

  2. Hey there…memang btol if your invitees are lower, the price per head doesnt get cheaper (think economies of scale). But $15 (even if last last $14) is abit too high on the scale for me. Any way you can nego to opt out without the flowers, name engraving (hah boleh print sendiri lor) etc?

    Anddddd, i know he’s probably being nice about th basis of trust thing…but to me babe..abit tak sedap ah. Dodgy pun ada. You never know seh in business. They can turn around and bite you back; saying you didn’t deposit a cent hence no consideration was given and bottomline takde binding contract or agreement (wow my law lecturer is beaming in his sleep right now). It’s nice ah to get the feeling that he trusts you, but sometimes things are too good to be true. What i suggest is to just meet him first, taste the food, see up to ur liking or not, see if any womanly intuition kicks in in your meeting, and then decide from there.

    Good luck 🙂

    • Haha thing is, I was intending to do a little DIY.. mason jar flower arrangements to be exact. So I was going to fork out some money to buy some fresh flowers from a wholesale place anyway, so his offer to do that macam kena with my plans, and cuts the trouble for me.. of course if I DIY I can determine the amount and type of flowers etc so that it’s not as expensive as $500, but then again I’ll have to go all the way to tempat hujung tanjung to get them at wholesale prices. Sometimes paying for convenience can be worth the headache and stress saved. Especially since my venue is not just downstairs at my void deck. It’s quite a distance away actually. I imagine that if I DIY, the day before the wedding I have to go all the way to tempat hujung tanjung to get the flowers, go home or provided I’ve brought the jars segala with me, go straight to the venue to get the arrangements done. And I don’t have a car! And I don’t want to trouble my family members. Or I could get the flowers delivered… wholesale place layan tak, delivery for small orders? Hmmmmm..

      As for the caterer, yes I am intending to meet with him and get food tasting done, and get everything written down to the last item, and I’ll put down a deposit amount when all has been confirmed. It’s just that I won’t get to do all that until May, and I’m having all these what-ifs going on in my head!

  3. In my opinion, maybe u taste the food first and then from there you r able to decide if it worth ur money? The way that u already go all out to source for supplier for this caterer means u already pretty much set on this one (i guess). For me, what matters is u feel good and comfortable about it. For video wise, u might want to consider asking a fren or relative to capture the important moment like nikah?

  4. Hi babe. Do you have a specific request for the caterers? Cos my fiance got his for catering for 500pax at $5600. (Incl sarapan, makan malam and makan nikah, but Excl kendarat which is $300). It’s an elderly couple n their fam that runs the show so they dont have like fb or whatever. They also dont really care much about deposits. They asked only for $200. Ive gone down to their majlis 2x and to me the food is quite nice (but of course to each their own). If u want, i can email you (once this fever is over and i have the will to open my laptop) the menu list and contact number of the makcik too. 🙂

    • $5600! That’s really cheap! Yes I’ve got specific request. That would be they have to cook at their own place and transport the food over. I know that would incur extra cost so I’m prepared to pay logistics fee. And it must be briyani dam kambing. That’s about it. Do leave your email add in your comment (I won’t publish it) and I’ll get in touch with you. Thanks so much babe!

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