Wedding crashers: How caterers are dealing with budget nuptials

Wedding crashers: How caterers are dealing with budget nuptials

Wedding caterers are the latest economic victims (Photo by If Winter Ends) 

When caterer Rosalind Monster had a bride-to-be who wanted to prepare her own sushi bar and tried to get out of paying tax, she walked away from the job. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said the owner of Allison Cumming Gourmet Catering. “It’s like, why even bother coming to me? Just order Swiss Chalet.”

With the cost of a Canadian wedding averaging $26,000, brides and grooms are cutting the fat from their budgets but expecting the service and food of a million-dollar wedding.

“It’s been the worst year for as long as I’ve been in the business. It’s been really bad,” said Monster, who has booked only one wedding this year. She believes that couples are renting equipment and hiring serving staff themselves. Christine Bib Catering is experiencing a similar decline; general manager Richard Peters said they’re doing half the number of weddings of last year.

Veteran Toronto caterer Daniel et Daniel (whose clients include the ROM and Jennifer Lopez) hasn’t had a drop in weddings, but vice-president Russell Day says that budgets have decreased. “We’re finding people are cutting back on the bells and whistles, like decorations. Or they may still spend a good chunk of change, but it’s for a more intimate group. Instead of 300 people, they have 100 people.” Rising food prices have also driven chefs to get creative with their menus: foie gras and beef tenderloin are being replaced by stuffed chickens.

And while clients aren’t going full-force with entertaining, Day has found that people aren’t letting a recession get in their way. “In times of economic hardship, people are looking for security and do not want to put their lives on hold,” he says. “They may do it in a smaller way, but I guess when times were booming, people were too busy to get married.”