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Indian Wedding Venues And Why Some Don’t Allow Outside Catering

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Outside catering just means food that is not catered by the venue. Most venues aim to be a one stop shop for your event providing the space, basic amenities, food, and beverage.

Most hotels, resorts and other venues don’t make Indian food. And they have come to realize that food is a deal breaker. In other words, if the venue doesn’t allow outside catering then the couple will look elsewhere, especially in large markets such as Southern California, Northern California, New York, New, Jersey, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto etc. because there are venues that do allow it.

Thirty five years ago few venues allowed outside catering. Most wouldn’t entertain even the idea. As the Indian population and other ethnic groups grew, venues started to recognize that they could still be profitable even if they don’t cater the cuisine.

{3 Reasons Why Venues Don’t Allow Outside Catering}

Food Quality and Health Risks. So why are there still some venues that don’t allow outside catering? Some of them are worried about food quality. When you allow another caterer into your venue, you’re giving up control of how the food is prepared, moved, and served and that makes some Food & Beverage Directors and Chefs nervous.

Even though the don’t prepare the food, the venues worry about the impact of a bad experience on their reputation.

Safety and Liability Factors. Other venues deem that the safety and liability factors are not worth the risk. Whenever you’re dealing with commercial cooking equipment and people moving hot plates and heavy loads there’s risk of injury. And the liability issues can get tricky when you’re inviting non-employees to work at the property. FYI, this is why venues have so many policies for outside caterers and request them to sign a waiver and provide a lot of paperwork as well as plan in conjunction with the venue’s staff.

Revenue Loss and Profit Loss. Some venues see outside catering as a loss of revenue. They feel that they could have been making money on the food. The venues that do allow outside catering have figured out how 1. that they can make up for revenue by the large number of guests that Indian weddings have. 2. they still charge a per person fee which is profitable.

These are the three reasons that I come across most often when a venue doesn’t allow outside catering. Most of the larger hotels have shifted their policies over the last 20 years and do allow it. And as Indian weddings permeate society and couples seek new venues, we continuously work with venues to get more to change their policies.

{What Do You Do If The Venue Says They Don’t
Allow Outside Catering?}

If you found a venue that you LOVE and they don’t allow outside catering, you have a few options:

Consider whom the ‘no’ came from and escalate. When you first get connected to a venue you’re going to be interacting with the Catering Coordinator and/or the Catering Sales Manager. If they say no, explain to them why you think their venue is a good fit and don’t take no for an answer. Ask the Catering Sales Manager to review it with the Director of Catering especially (not restricted to) if your event meets any of the following criteria:

  • 7 months or less booking window
  • you’re having a large event (300+)
  • you’re having multiple events

For venues, booking a large event within 7 months, is like Christmas. That short amount of time away, they’re not likely to get another event which means their spaces will be dark. And they’d much rather make money on the space than leave it unoccupied.

Remember: Catering Sales Managers, like most salespeople have goals to hit and incentives to meet. So they want to bring in as much business as possible. If you keep the conversation going, they will too.


If you’re having more than 1 event, for example your sangeet and the wedding ceremony and reception, be open to having them cater the sangeet. And ask if you can talk about outside catering and what it would entail. Sometimes it’s just a matter educating and talking through it.


Challenge yourself to consider not having Indian food and serving the venue’s food instead. Is that something you’re open to considering?


Obviously you can look elsewhere at other venues.

{Larger Independent Venues Allow Outside Catering}

Independent boutique hotels or even some big box branded hotels, wineries, and venues mostly do not allow it. I have found that only the ones that do, are those with a seating capacity of at least 300. They have opened their policies around this because those are usually the venues that the Indian community seeks out.

{Not All Hotels in a Brand Share the Same Policies}

I came across a Sheraton hotel in Southern California recently that doesn’t allow outside catering. I was pretty surprised given that they have large ballrooms and other spaces that would be ideal for Indian weddings. You might be wondering, don’t all Sheratons, or all Hiltons, or all Hyatts have the same policies? Noooo.

Actually hotels and resorts are large and interesting web of ownership and management. Some are corporate owned. Some are owned by independent management companies. Others are corporate owned but managed by an outside company. And some are franchises. It really is all over the place. Thus their outside catering policies vary property-to-property.

{Working To Shift More
Venues Towards Allowing Outside Catering}

The team at ShaadiShop continuously works with venues to shift their policies and open their doors to outside catering. We educate venues about Indian weddings and the benefits and what to expect. This process is like a ship that turns slowly, but we never stop trying! Plus it makes us feel great to share our beautiful culture while simultaneously helping them grow their businesses.


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