As the Executive Director of the Wadsworth Mansion and twenty six years of hosting weddings, I have watched couples navigate the complexity of wedding planning. At least once a day a bride will ask us, ‘How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion?’ The short answer is to quote our rental rates of $5,500 for a Friday/Sunday wedding and $6,000 for a Saturday wedding, but in reality what the bride really wants to know is how we compare to our competition and whether a Wadsworth Mansion wedding is affordable. The response to that question is much more complex because we offer our couples the opportunity to select from a list of caterers that vary in price point and style. In this blog post I hope to enlighten the couple who has never planned an event before.
Location: The Mansion
The Mansion rental rates are based on the day of the week, $5,500 for a Friday or Sunday, and $6,000 for a Saturday. No tax is applied to the rental rate. If you wish to purchase extra time, it is $750/hour. [Always needed for Indian Weddings] If you hire a caterer from our Approved List no extra fees are assessed. Couples do have to purchase Liquor Liability Insurance and that generally runs about $135. There is no fee for having your ceremony here, or using our ceremony chairs. If your rehearsal transpires during our work day there is no fee for a rehearsal.
If you were creating a budget the amount allocated for the Wadsworth Mansion should be $6,135 dollars for a Saturday wedding [$5,635 for a Friday/Sunday].
Food and Beverage:
Your food and beverage costs depend on how many people you are having at your wedding and what you are eating. When a caterer presents a proposal there is a food cost and a staffing cost. Some of our caterers, to make it easy, will just quote a per person cost, but when quoting, they have always calculated the two components. Some caterers will present a food cost and a labor cost. When figuring out what the bottom line is for food and beverage always ask if and where the service charge is added. Service charges can run up to 22% for the higher end caterers. Sometimes it is applied just to the food component, sometimes to the whole package. Tax is 6.35% in Connecticut.
Don’t be embarrassed to say that you have a budgeted amount for food and beverage. If you are on a budget, the way to save money is to select a menu with lower food costs. [Don’t ask for filet mignon, lobster tails, and a sushi bar.] Don’t be embarrassed when a caterer presents a proposal to ask if there are ways to save money. Substitutions can always be made. It is not necessarily cheaper to have food stations rather than a plated dinner as the caterer has to supply enough food for all the guests to sample everything and keep the stations presentable throughout the serving period. Staffing is not something you can negotiate.
Some caterers will include linens and place settings in their proposals. Some own their own linens and place settings, others will make arrangements for rentals. Generally if linens and place settings are included the price per person is lower than if the caterer has to procure those items through a rental company.
When selecting a caterer it isn’t just about money; it is about value. There generally is a reason why things cost more. Here are some questions to ask a caterer to understand the value of the proposal:
- How experienced are your wait staff?
- What do they wear?
- Is someone assigned to attend the bride and groom?
- Is there someone greeting guests at the door?
- Is all the food made in house?
- How are your stations presented?
- What isn’t included? [If you have never been in the business, you won’t recognize what isn’t included so ask.]
All the caterers on our Approved Catering list are good. We wouldn’t let a caterer work here who isn’t doesn’t provide good food and service. They represent different price points and styles. For planning purposes we have a caterer that begins $85.00 plus tax. This fee includes food, staffing, full open bar, linens and place settings. They would say that on an average their clients spend $100 pp plus tax. Their high end is $150 pp. [short rib/sea bass/sushi bar served under a tent in the back lawn].
For budgeting purposes you must budget at least $90.00 per person for food and beverage. [This is all inclusive: food, beverage, bar, linens, place settings, service, tax and service charge.] It is more realistic to start at $110 per person when creating your budget.
In my next blog I’ll write about flowers, music, and photography, as there is more to a wedding than just the venue and a delicious meal. When finished I’ll share my niece’s budget as she is getting married here in August.