How Much Does a Wedding Caterer Cost? - MODwedding


How Much Does a Wedding Caterer Cost?

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Here is the breakdown of how much a wedding caterer will cost based on different types of packages and experiences:

Typical Costs
  • An inexpensive catering choice might be a simple meal served buffet or family-style at a casual restaurant, without alcohol, which can cost as little as $20 per person. Although there may be a small room rental fee, you would not be additionally charged for the use of plates, glasses, and flatware.
  • An hors d’oeuvres or buffet style reception can cost around $30-$70 per person, with no cocktail hour but a limited bar. These options might include a spread of yummy hors d’ oeuvres, salads served either buffet-style or in stations, and a beer-and-wine bar for your guests.
  • Having a cocktail hour and formal sit-down dinner at a luxury hotel or country club with an in-house caterer can cost around $125-$350 or more per person (including service fee and gratuity). This might include passed hors d’ oeuvres, a sit-down multi-course meal and an open bar.
  • The average wedding caterer costs $12,790 for food and food service, drinks and drink service, cake and cake cutting fees. With an average number of 150 guests, it typically amounts to around $85 per person.
  • The total price shouldn’t be affected much whether you use an in-house or an outside caterer.
  • Catering costs can be up to 30% higher in metropolitan areas.
What are Included?
  • Caterers will usually meet with the bride and groom to discuss different budget and menu options.
  • Most caterers will offer tastings for the couple and the wedding planner before the menu is finalized. If the bride’s parents are covering the wedding expenses, they can be included in the menu tasting as well.
  • On the wedding day, the caterer will arrive early to the site, in order to set up and finish preparing the food with staff members. Caterers will handle all aspects of the menu and meals, cut the wedding cake, and clean and return rental items.
Additional Fees
  • While some caterers may automatically add a 15%-25% gratuity to the bill, some leave tipping up to the couple’s discretion. Before signing the contract, clarify whether tax and tip are already included in the total cost.
  • In-house catering typically will include service, while outside catering will usually charge additional fees for labor. This could amount to anywhere from $15-$25 an hour for each waiter on hand, and $45 an hour or more for the chef. Passed appetizers will result in additional fees as well, as this requires more servers and thus, more labor costs.
  • Note that there may be cake-cutting fees of $1 or more per slice, or corking fees of $1 or more for each bottle of wine or champagne. Caterers charge in different ways, so make sure to discuss all possible additional charges upfront.
Money Saving Tips
  • Hold a lunch reception instead of a dinner reception to save on catering. Prices are lower because portions are smaller for lunch, and guests tend to drink less alcohol.
  • Though it is difficult and much more time consuming, self-catering your wedding is an option if you are on a tight budget.
  • When interviewing caterers, discuss your budget first so you don’t waste each others’ time. If you are tight on a budget, avoid expensive add-ons such as a raw bar or a variety of unusual signature cocktails.
Finding the Right Wedding Caterer
  • Ask for recommendations from relatives, recently married friends, or wedding professionals, such as a planner or baker. Meet in-person and interview several caterers before making a final decision.
  • Confirm that your caterer is a licensed food server by your local or county health department.
  • Make sure your caterer has liability insurance.
  • Consider all the different food service options and how it will affect your final bill, from buffet to food stations to full-service catering.

Featured Cover Image: Olivia Leigh Photographie

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