Our reception will begin at 9pm and will last until midnight. Every Friday the brewery has a brewery tour until 7:30pm and we can't get in until all of those people have cleared out and we'll still need time to set up the space with our decorations. It is actually great for us for a few reasons - we don't have to serve everyone dinner and it's more relaxed like our entire day which is exactly what we wanted.
SweetWater gave us a list of vendors that they've worked with in the past and who they consider to be preferred vendors. I started with that list and made a bunch of phone calls. One of the caterers that I emailed didn't even respond. How do people do business like that?? I narrowed our selection down to four caterers - Bold American, Proof of the Pudding and Soiree, all three preferred vendors from SweetWater and I was recommended A Divine Event from a friend who helped plan an industry event for a couple hundred people a month ago.
Every single proposal we got back sounded delicious and everyone understood the feel we wanted for the reception. Because the venue is just a brewery, we needed to also rent tables, linens and hire a bartender to serve wine and soft drinks to guests who don't want beer. We also asked for only desserts to be served at the reception. For a party of 75 people late in the evening, desserts will be perfect.
The first two proposals that came back were basically identical in cost - $3400 for everything. I almost curled up in a ball and cried. I had no idea it would cost that much for just desserts and tables. The venue with unlimited beer was half of that! I went back and forth with each vendor trying to find ways to cut down costs, but it wasn't possible. We couldn't seem to get around the food costs or the service fees. With one of the two vendors, I had over $600 in fees and staffing costs that I didn't need but had to have. Ultimately, Proof of the Pudding and Bold American had to be cut for budget purposes. If I had an unlimited budget one of these caterers would have been selected. They are both well known in the market and always serve quality food. For what we were looking for for our night, they weren't the right fit.
That left me with A Divine Event and Soiree. Both of their proposals were in the $2500 range while still delivering what we were looking for. The contacts at both places were very helpful and we went back and forth with some revisions to the original proposals until we had exactly what we wanted. The one sad thing that happened was that I was waiting for a final proposal from ADE and I never received it. After almost a week we had to make a decision. The two vendors were so close in cost and vision we don't feel we lost anything not having the final proposal from A Divine Event. Yesterday afternoon we booked Soiree Catering and Events for our reception. Stephen and I got to spend some time with the person helping us coordinate everything, Larry, and we both walked out of the building with huge smiles on our faces. Larry walked us through how he sees the tables being set up, he served us some of the dessert options that we ordered and we talked through some other decor ideas we had for the night, outside of food and he was super helpful. After that meeting I don't have any concerns when it comes to the food, drinks or coffee for the night. Such a relief.
As a bonus for making it through the long post, below are some additional pictures of the event space at SweetWater Brewery.
Above is the view of the main room from the corner of the bar on the way to the bathroom. Look at all of the windows! In that corner where we see the windows coming together is where the dessert table will most likely go.
The second picture, above, is of the space from the entry. That bar takes a turn and goes down the windows for a while and ends in a little lounge area with leather sofas.
This is the outdoor patio that is also included in our evening. It's huge! Those black windows are the windows that you're seeing in the other two pictures. I'm still trying to figure out how to decorate that railing... but I think I have an idea.