Long after your wedding, guests may forget all the other details except how good, satisfying, and overflowing the banquet was. It’s true that the fondest memories are celebrated around good food. What you serve at your wedding reception then will be the focal point of your event and will comprise the biggest chunk in your budget. So, how much does wedding catering cost?
What Drives your Wedding Catering Budget?
Some factors need to be considered so you can estimate your overall catering costs. Primarily, the number of guests you decide to have will drive your expenses up or down. Another significant factor is how swanky or laidback your menu, type of food service, and venue will be and the alcohol you will pair your feast with. Remember that the swankier your meal courses are, the pricier it will cost per guest. So think about where you want to make some adjustments, whether it will be on the headcount or the kind of food to be served. All these factors affect how much does wedding catering cost.
How Much Most Couples Spend?
For the cost per person, it’s quite difficult to estimate the rate that prevails today. Some peg their budget at $20 per head at the cheaper end of the catering spectrum or go as high as $100 per person. On average, American couples spend $4,000 for wedding catering for a hundred guests. The range of catering expenses as of 2020 ranges from $1,800 to $7,000. Some couples shell out as high as the $10,000 and even reach the $20,000 mark.
What’s in a Wedding Catering Package?
The standard package that your caterer will offer you include the following:
- Food, obviously, from the cocktail munchies to the main course.
- Drinks and beverages, whether alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
- Catering staff, from waiters, servers, bartenders, cooks.
- Rentals of the feast set up, from tables, table covers, and chairs, dining ware, glassware, utensils, and other dining needs.
So, how much does wedding catering cost? To get your number-crunching already, and once you’ve decided on your final number of guests and wedding venue, here are factors you can think about as you plan your wedding feast:
Your Food Service
Will it be a sit-down dinner? A buffet? A laidback brunch? When and how your meals will be served are priced differently. So consider your options:
- Plated. In this option, waiters serve meals to each guest course by course. This is usually more formal, especially if there are more than the usual number of courses. Typically, the plated style requires more staffing, too. Typical price range: $100-$200 per person.
- Buffet. In a buffet-style reception, guests serve themselves from the buffet tables your caterer will set up in the venue. Typical price range: $50-$100 per person.
- Family-style. This is like a hybrid of a plated meal and the buffet style of catering. Waiters bring the meals to each table, and guests help themselves right where they are seated. This is great for big, close-knit families. Typical price range: $120-$150 per person.
- Food stations. This is a buffet with a wider range of food options. Different food stations like a carving station, soup and salad station, and a dessert station are strategically placed in the venue. Couples who also offer more inclusive and customized food choices for their guests also opt for food stations. For example, there are vegan and gluten-free stations or a station featuring a typical cuisine. Typical price range: $50-$75 per person.
- Food truck service. This is an update to wedding receptions, best for those couples who do not care for stiff, formal dinners. Food trucks are stationed in an outdoor venue typically, and guests approach these trucks for warm, festive, casual, but delicious meals. This is a fun and great way for your guests to mingle and make friends while waiting as their meals are assembled. Typical price range: $50-$100 per person.
- Hors d’oeuvres. Filling appetizers, like cheeses and assorted nibbles, may also precede the actual reception or meal. Typical price range: $60-$85 per person.
- Cocktail hour. Couples also treat their guests to cocktails to warm up the night before dinner. A cocktail hour typically includes nibbles and tipples — appetizers and alcoholic drinks. Typical price range: $35 per person.
- Brunch. A cheaper alternative to dinner is to let your guests feast earlier in the day. Alcoholic drinks are normally – normally! – more controlled at brunch. Typical price range: $20 – 35 per person.
How much does wedding catering cost, considering the – let’s face it – cultural and entertainment value of alcohol? You can choose between these options:
- An Open Bar. In an open bar, guests can order as much as they want, and the couple pays for it. Since it is unlimited in range of alcoholic drinks and a number of rounds, an open bar can make your wedding catering budget pretty volatile. It can command some $50 per guest.
- A Full Bar. A full bar is more controlled than an open bar. In a full bar, you have a wide range of alcoholic beverages so guests can choose their poison, but not in copious, unlimited amounts.
Allocate a certain percentage to give after the event as your way of saying thank you to the chefs and bartenders. Usually, this is factored into the whole catering cost. If this is not included, then consider it your compliments to the chef for a job well done. Set aside some 15 to 20 percent of your total catering bill for your chef, and another 10% for your bartenders.
We know that you will be as hands-on as possible in planning your wedding. With these factors, you have an approximation of how much does wedding catering costs nowadays. What you serve at your reception will definitely be something your friends and loved ones will remember. Thus, you have to be smart about it. With a little research and some accounting, for sure, you will attain all your targets. Have fun! Know more about wedding costs.