Catering costs $10 to $35 per person for basic party food or a drop-off service. On average, caterers charge $500 to $7,500 total for 50 guests, $1,000 to $15,000 for 100 guests, and $1,500 to $23,000 for 150 guests. Alcohol or bartending options often cost extra.
Formal catering or wedding catering costs $30 to $200 per person for plated meals, a buffet, or food stations. A food truck rental costs $10 to $40 per person, depending on the type of event and whether you hire the truck on a weekend or holiday. Popular food truck menu options include tacos, pizza, BBQ, and ice cream.
Catering means supplying food and drink at a party, wedding, or other gathering. Some catering companies provide waitstaff, while others offer self-serve buffet stations or simply drop off prepared food to an event. Different catering companies provide different types of foods and cuisines, including:
Most caterers recommend ordering at least a few weeks to 6 months in advance, depending on the type of event and number of guests. However, catering a small party may not require as much advance time as a wedding, holiday party, or large corporate event.
Large chain restaurants often provide limited, drop-off catering services and require less notice than professional catering companies. Some chain restaurants and grocery stores offer catering services with only one day's notice.
Caterers supply all the food for your event, either cooking it on-site or preparing it in their own kitchen beforehand. Many catering services include serving dishes, plates, glasses, and silverware in their price. Some caterers also offer tables, chairs, linens, or custom place settings for an added fee.
Caterers typically serve food for 1 to 4 hours, depending on the time of year and number of guests. Setup usually takes 1 to 2 hours. Ask your caterer whether they will include any of the setup or cleanup time in their estimate.
Some caterers include a gratuity charge of 15% to 20% on your bill that is split between the servers. Before adding a cash tip, ask your caterer or review the contract to make sure a gratuity charge is not already included. If you decide to give cash tips directly, pay each person between $15 to $50.
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