Food and drinks are some of the largest items on any wedding budget plan. As you begin to hunt for a caterer and mull over menu possibilities, you likely have many questions.
How much does it cost to cater a wedding?
This is probably the most common question, and the answer really depends on what you want for your wedding. Some people will spend around $2,000, while others will spend more like $15,000. On average, the cost of catering for a wedding falls somewhere around $7,000.
Here are some other things you need to know about wedding catering prices.
1. Wedding Catering Prices Are Affected by Location
If you’re having your wedding catered in a major city centre, be prepared to pay a little more. Generally speaking, the more popular the location, the higher the prices.
This means you’ll likely pay more for catering service in cities like Toronto and Hamilton than you will in Cambridge or London. Keep in mind, however, popular venues may also charge more. Niagara-on-the-Lake is likely more expensive than Parry Sound.
Other factors also need to be considered when talking about location. The venue itself may charge for an outside caterer, while an in-house caterer can include items like flatware in their fee. Travel may also be factored in.
2. The Serving Style Matters
You probably guessed one of the big factors affecting wedding catering prices is what you serve. There’s little question serving crab and caviar will cost you more than hamburgers and hot dogs. How you serve food also matters.
You can usually choose between several service styles, such as a sit-down meal, a buffet-style service, and lighter fare such as hors d’oeuvres or snack stations. Switching from a seated, plated service to a buffet may not make the fancy crab dish any more affordable, but it may lower the overall cost of catering or the per-head cost.
3. Prices May Include More Than Food
You must ask your caterer what is included in the price. Of course, the food is included, but what else is (or isn’t) rolled into the bill?
If you’re having a bar service, this should also be included in the price. If you’re working with the in-house vendor, the costs of flatware and stemware will likely be included. If you’re working with an outside vendor, they may need to charge more to bring in their own.
Other fees include a food tasting, cake cutting fees, gratuities, and even the staff for the event. Be sure to ask if all these services are included. If they’re not, you may need to begin adding.
4. You Can Spend More or Less Than Average
As mentioned, the average for wedding catering prices hovers somewhere around $7,000. Of course, you can go higher or lower.
If you include an open bar, a full sit-down meal, pre-service cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and your venue is somewhere like a hotel or country club, you could be looking at a much higher price. Some couples spend $12,000 to $15,000 on their wedding catering.
Other couples have spent as little as $400 on catering, although this likely involves an option such as taking a small group out to dinner and renting a private room at a local restaurant.
5. Plan to Spend
Some people recommend couples should estimate to spend a large portion of the budget on food and drinks alone. After all, you want your guests to be happy, not hungry. Anywhere between one-third and half of the budget is considered a good rule of thumb.
Talk to your caterer about wedding catering prices to get a feel for what your dream wedding will cost you.