Hampton Inn & Suites Chapel Hill/Carrboro Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening

How Much Does Catering Cost?

Planning an event but not sure how much your budget should cost? Usually you can expect the majority of your budget to go to three things: food catering and services, the venue, and entertainment costs. The first of those three will take a big chunk of your dough but how much does a caterer cost anyway?

Catering cost can differ depending on a lot of things but the core challenge is fitting your budget to the number of guests you want and the type of food you want. To get a little ahead of the curb, here are a few tips you might want to consider to get the books right.

Small-Time Buffet Costs

Renting one medium-sized private room instead of an entire function hall will guarantee you a smaller catering cost. If this is just a small event for less than twenty-five people then you won’t have to worry about additional fees for the plates, linen, and others.

As long as you don’t count on including alcohol in the menu, you can expect these types of small-time catering to cost you around $20 to $35 per head. Just don’t expect much: you’ll get a nice buffet meal with all the utilities and services accounted for.

Hors d’Oeuvres Catering Costs

Hors d’Oeuvres reception, with the cocktail hour slashed off and only a limited bar offered, will be a little bit more costly. This is because the more exquisite dishes will require more elaborate services and equipment.

Lower prices range from $35 to $65 per person but that might be a little constrictive for some. You’ll probably only get a small main course for your guests. It might be better to expect costs shooting up to $75 since it might include more selections and a salad dish for your guests.

Full-Front Fancy Dinner

Cocktail hour included, fancy dinner table settings and catering services, and a full three-course meal can increase catering costs all the way up to $350 per person and that’s not even with cake cutting fees. Of course with a full-front fancy dinner you can expect the caterers to go all out and you’ll end up with a very organized, very satisfying catering service that your guests will adore and love.

This is not the most common cost range for weddings but it will be a more common sight for people organizing dinners for corporate events like event launchings and corporate get-togethers.

Additional Fees for Catering

In case you are hiring in-house catering services then the fee they charge you will most likely be the final amount you’ll expect to pay. Hiring outside caterers will cost you extra because now you’ll have to pay for their labor fees. This can amount to about $20 per employee, per hour.

Then there are cake cutting fees, miscellaneous fees for additional equipment, and for extra services. You might want to check if the venue has a good kitchen because if anything isn’t available then you’ll need to provide it and the costs will come out of your pockets.

Rounding Out the Costs

For an event of a hundred people, small-time buffet catering should cost no more than $200 all in all. A simple hors d’oeuvres reception will cost around $500-$650, and a full fancy dinner with cocktail hour and more will see costs going above the $3,000 mark.

If you want to cut it short and work on a tight budget then one of the easiest ways is to reschedule the event for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch receptions are less expensive since there is less alcohol and people tend to eat less during lunch, allowing you to limit the amount of food to be served.



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Category: Catering

One comment

  1. Hi, in october we will be hosting an event on a boat from around 5-8pm. There will drinks provided on behalf of the boat no charge for us. They are wanting to charge $28-$33 per person. I do not need a full on fancy dinner or lunch style I just need a small type buffet and I see that you say I should not pay over $200 per every 100 person. So should I expect to pay about $1000 for 500 people?

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