The average cost for a wedding caterer is $40 per guest. Hiring a wedding caterer to provide cuisine on your big day, you will likely spend between $20 and $110 per guest. The price of wedding catering can vary greatly by region (and even by zip code). View our local wedding caterers or get free estimates from pros near you.
When it comes to the big day, the dream is to have everything go without a hitch right after you’re hitched. A big part of that is who you choose to do your catering.
If you’re worried about the high cost of feeding all your guests, there’s a caterer for every budget—from bringing in a food truck to a three-course, sit-down meal.
For those on an extremely tight budget, the lowest cost might be in hiring a food truck owner to come and provide food through the truck window. Guests can even pay for their own meals (not recommended). Some states, however, charge an operation fee for having a truck present, which you would have to cover.
For instance, the City of Austin, Texas, charges $300. Food truck owners also charge more for extended mileage. The downside of having a food truck is that it will take some time to fulfill the orders for a large number of guests.
The time of your meal can make a difference in cost, with lunch being the less expensive option. For instance, Alfred Catering in Austin, TX, charges $12.50–$14.50 pp for brunch vs. $15.50–$24.50 pp for dinner. They offer three tiers of menus to choose from, with the cost growing based on how much dairy and which type of meat you’d like them to serve your guests.
If you can take care of keeping the food warm once it arrives, this can be a great, low-cost option for feeding your guests. Most wedding facilities will have bain-maries available for rent, and they will set them up for you.
Some drop-off food prices are:
If you know guests are going to be hungry waiting for you to finish up your wedding photographs, it’s a lovely idea to give them some hors d’oeuvres to stave off the hunger. Cold hors d’oeuvres cost less than hot, and can cost anywhere from $2.50–$7.95 pp/per hors d’oeuvre.
The next step up in wedding catering is to have stations set up with different food options and a server at each one—cheeses, a carving station, hot sides, meat dishes, etc.
Carlyle’s Catering in Atlanta, GA, have four menu options. Three cold hors d’oeuvres cost $15.25 pp, while one carving station with 3 cold and 3 hot hors d’oeuvres is $36.95 pp with sides. An assorted or upscale dessert bar is an additional $7–$8 pp. 100 guests = $1,525–$4,495.
They have a team of “professionally trained servers, bartenders, and chefs ready to make your event a success. The fees cover a two-hour event with set up and breakdown. Some events require additional labor. Lunch Server - $150; Chef in Kitchen - $200; Evening/Dinner Server - $175; Bartender - $175; Production - $150.”
Rather than try to piecemeal the costs of every little item per person, it can be a great relief to find a wedding caterer who offers a flat fee per person, like Culinary Canvas Catering in Phoenix, AZ, who have a wedding buffet package on their site of $4,500 for 125 guests. It includes an hors d’oeuvre station, salad, dinner roll, entree + 2 sides, tablecloths, napkins, and silverware = $36 pp.
Most caterers either provide all the extra services you need themselves, or they can project manage everything for you and hire the right people for your big day. Services can include rentals, a florist, DJ, TABC bartenders, valet/transportation, equipment, entertainment, linens, décor, tables, dance floors, lighting, bar, tent, tables and chairs, and even game hosts.
All wedding caterers will have a save-the-date fee costing about $250 to 50% of the total estimate. They might also add a service fee of $150–450 for miscellaneous costs like insurance, gas, tolls, parking, etc. They will also have a cancellation policy, whereby they will keep your deposit if you cancel the booking too close to the wedding date.
Ultimately, the perfect wedding catering company is waiting for your call. They’ll offer free tastings and walk throughs, if applicable, and customize your quote for whatever you have in mind.
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