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CostHelper > Weddings  > Wedding Caterer

Wedding Caterer Cost

How Much Does a Wedding Caterer Cost?

low costLow: $20 per personaverage costMedium: $30-$70 per personhigh costHigh: $125-$350 per person
Typical costs:
  • An inexpensive catering choice might be a private room at a Chinese, barbecue or other casual restaurant, without alcohol, which can cost as little as $20 per person. Many restaurants charge a small room rental fee and do not charge for use of plates, glasses and flatware. This might include a simple meal served buffet or family-style.
  • An hors d'oeuvres reception or buffet with no cocktail hour and a limited bar can cost $30 to $70 per person. This might include a hearty spread of hot hors d' oeuvres, and salads served either buffet-style or in stations, as well as a beer-and-wine-only bar.
  • A cocktail hour and sit-down dinner at a fancy hotel, country club or resort with an in-house caterer can cost $125 to $350 or more per person, including service and gratuity. This might include passed hors d' oeuvres, a sit-down multi-course meal and an open bar.
  • Whether you use an in-house or an outside caterer should not affect the final price much -- just the complexity of your bill, according to The National Association of Catering Executives[1] . In-house caterers build in the price of flatware and stemware, which they will usually own, for example, while outside caterers rent it from a third party and itemize the cost on your bill.
  • The average wedding caterer cost, including food and food service, drinks and drink service and cake and cake cutting fees is $12,790, according to The Bridal Association of America[2] , which treats these as three separate categories. The average number of guests is 150, so it works out to about $85 per person.
  • Catering costs tend to be as much as 30 percent higher in large cities and in the Northeast and on the West Coast.
Related articles: Stemware and Flatware Rentals, Wedding Photographer, Champagne Toast

What should be included:
  • Most caterers will meet with the couple to discuss budget and menu options. Most caterers hold tastings for the couple, their wedding planner and, if they are paying, the bride's parents. Then the caterer will finalize the menu. On the day of the wedding, the caterer will cook the food, then arrive early with staff members to set up and finish preparing the food. Caterers handle the details of the meal, cut the cake, and clean and return rental items.
Additional costs:
  • Some caterers add a 15 to 25 percent gratuity to their bill, and some leave tipping up to the customer's discretion. It is important to clarify before signing a contract whether tax and tip are included in the total.
  • While in-house catering typically includes service, outside caterers usually charge for labor --around $15 to $25 an hour each waiter and $45 an hour or more for a chef. Passed appetizers add to labor costs because they require more servers.
  • There may also be cake-cutting fees of $1 or more per slice and corking fees of $1 or more per bottle for wine and champagne. Caterers charge in different ways, so it is important to make sure any and all possible fees and charges are discussed upfront.
  • Save on catering by holding a lunch reception instead of a dinner reception; prices are lower because portions are smaller, and guests tend to drink less alcohol at mid-day. BrideOnline[3] offers more ideas for cutting catering costs.
  • Some couples on a tight budget choose to self-cater their weddings. It is difficult and time consuming, but can be done.
  • Tip: Discuss your budget ahead of time with a prospective caterer so you don't waste each others' time. If you are watching your budget, consider avoiding pricey add-ons such a raw bar or a specialty drink bar that features, for example, a variety of unusual martinis.
Shopping for a wedding caterer:
  • Tip: Ask recently married friends and family or your wedding professionals, such as photographer or baker, whether they can recommend a good caterer. Interview several caterers before making a decision. The[4] offers a guide to finding the right caterer.
  • Make sure your caterer is licensed as a food server by your local or county health department.[5] offers a list of tips for checking a prospective caterer.
  •[6] offers a list of items that should be included in a catering contract.
  • Consider different food service options -- buffet, food stations or full-service, and ask how each will alter the final bill.[7] provides a description of each.
  •[8] offers a list of caterers by location. It is a good idea to talk to several caterers before choosing one.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
AWESOME SERVICE/wedding caterer
Amount: $5,000.00
Posted by: J's girl Jennifer in Upper Darby, PA.Posted: May 15th, 2017 11:05AM
Type: WeddingNumber of Guests: 200
Cooking with Passion did a really great job preparing the food, my guests could not stop talking, they are still talking to this day (Wedding 2/17/2017). We had a buffet menu with hor dvoures, the customer service they provided was out of this world. Great Job Tawhanda Timmons and her staff.
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Depends on location: popular charleston, DC is more expensive
Amount: $6,500.00
Posted by: Driggers in Charleston, SC.Posted: October 8th, 2015 07:10PM
Type: Food only (bar is separate cost)Number of Guests: 100
Seated dinner with salad/bread and entree (guest choose between 3 options). Cake and bar are separate costs/seperate vendors.
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The Gifted Culinarian, LLC
Amount: $1,900.00
Posted by: a user in Dayton, OH.Posted: May 10th, 2012 01:05PM
Type: WeddingNumber of Guests: 138
Loved her catering, the food was great, service was superb and the customer service was excellent, and the setup and clean up was detailed and timely.Chef Spencer will get a call from again as I have a need for a cater often.
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Amount: $5,000.00
Posted by: Cheryl & Jean Paul in Montreal, Other.Posted: October 9th, 2011 07:10PM
Type: WeddingNumber of Guests: 100
We had seen a wedding board about Kilograms Catering in Montreal. We contacted them and from the beginning we knew it was going to be a great experience. Sharon and her staff cooked up a storm. We had buffet style so that we could get a variety of choices. Kilograms Catering did not fail. Scrumptious food, outstanding service. They incorporated all of our choices (mostly vegan) with meat dishes. Well done Sharon! We could not do this without you! My dad who foot the bill was impressed. My husband and I owe you a lot. A thousand thank yous.
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D-Ice Catering
Amount: $600.00
Posted by: S&N Wedding Planners in Chicago, IL.Posted: April 17th, 2011 04:04PM
Type: WeddingNumber of Guests: 100
This caterer was the greatest, from the setup to the take down very professional and courteous. Food was outstanding not overseasoned not underseasoned, just a great experience all around I will definitely seek him out for the next wedding that I plan.
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Amount: $10,000.00
Posted by: Renee and Jeffrey in Montreal, Canada, Other.Posted: August 9th, 2010 01:08PM
Type: Wedding ReceptionNumber of Guests: 200
Our Wedding took place May 24th, 2010 in Montreal, Canada. We had a seated dinner. The event was catered by Kilograms Catering of Montreal. They specialize in Caribbean food but also do Italian,Canadian,French or whatever you desire. The food was excellent, our guests can't stop talking about it. They are very professional, punctual and the staff very polite. Decorations were done by them also. Beautiful ostrich feathers, gorgeous flowers. They pulled out all the stops. They made us so happy, we will recommend them to anyone getting married in Canada.I believe their website is being developed but you can reach them at [email protected]
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Bistro Catering and Events
Amount: $6,260.00
Posted by: Dissappointed in Concord, NC.Posted: May 26th, 2010 02:05PM
Type: Wedding ReceptionNumber of Guests: 250
The food awful hardly any of my guests ate anything.They finally showed up 1 hour late.
We were very disappointed.They made many promises which they did no fulfil.They were supposed. The food wasn't even displayed like the promised.We were supposed to have a carving station.For the amount of money they charged me I must say they were over paid
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Destination Wedding in Ireland
Amount: $5,000.00
Posted by: happybrideanne in Ireland, Other.Posted: January 18th, 2009 08:01AM
Type: 4 Star Hotel Wedding ReceptionNumber of Guests: 70
Picked an EXPENSIVE 4-star hotel in a beautiful location. Their reception hall and a weekend wedding would have been ridiculously expensive! So, because I wanted that location, I booked a mid-week (Thursday) wedding (discounted day), and selected their restaurant instead of their banquet rooms. I checked out the mid-week menus first, and then started inquiring! Saved me a ton of money. I didn't have to pay for "labor" for bartenders/ servers, etc. because it was already included. My big costs were getting excellent food.
Private lounge room next to restaurant: Tea/ Coffee and biscuits (cookies!) reception for 1 hour before dinner.
In restaraunt--4 course Dinner:
Starter: Caprese Salad with homemade mozzarella or baked brie en croute with apples and pecans.
Soup: Lobster Bisque
Dinner: Honey Bourbon Salmon or Sirloin Beef in Red Wine Sauce.
Dessert: Baileys Chocolate Mousse in a Swiss Chocolate Cup served with a raspberry coulis.
With dinner: free-pour wine or sodas. (Worked out to an average of 1/2 bottle wine each--some non-drinkers, but not many, and each bottle was 19 euro).
Afterwards: Back to the lounge room. I put a tab of 500 euro at the bar (worked out that everyone could get a couple of drinks each). Served cake--less guests meant a smaller cake and significantly less cost. Cake-cutting services included. Had a musician friend play for us.
Perfect! :D
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Was this price reasonable
Amount: $4,011.78
Posted by: Pat Nash in Lansing, MI.Posted: September 23rd, 2008 03:09PM
Type: Wedding ReceptionNumber of Guests: 207
Labor for Bartenders and Servers was $1,695.00 (6 servers; 3 bartenders)
Plated Salads (Spring mix, feta cheese, mandarin oranges, nuts, dressing on side)
Buffet Dinner(Chicken in white wine sauce, roasted redskin potatoes, glazed carrots, rolls and butter)
Food was $9 per person
Extra charged items were: 110.00 for 2 cases of plastic cups; $5 1 bag limes; $20 lemonade/iced tea; (no charge) coffee (decaf and reg), cream/sugar; $175 Hot spinach artichoke dip and crackers; (no charge) Bruschetta and Foccachia bread; (no charge) Salsa and Chips; (no charge) Roasted Bean and Corn Dip with tortilla chips; $32 cocktail napkins; $111.78 6% sales tax.
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Check Out All Costs for Weddings How Much Do Wedding Flowers Cost? How Much Does a Groom's Suit or Tuxedo Cost? How Much Does a Champagne Toast Cost?

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