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Wedding Catering

How much does wedding catering cost?

To like most With other components of the celebration, the price of your wedding catering can go up or down based on a long list of factors. “Catering for a wedding is like building a house,” says Lynn Buono of Feast Your Eyes Catering. “There are a large number of items, and options at different prices are available for each item.”

Meet the expert

Lynn Buono is the co-owner and chief culinary officer of Feast Your Eyes Catering in Philadelphia. Their Front & Palmer venue has been named one of the 45 Best Wedding Venues in America by Brides.

Still, it is helpful to understand what these elements are and what the average costs are when planning your budget. Here’s what you can expect in order to provide your wedding guests with wine and food.

Average price for wedding catering

A word on the wise, the cost of catering for weddings varies dramatically across the country and depends on the menu components, the design and the service. The wedding report found that for weddings in the United States in 2019, the average spending on catering services was $ 4,618, while the average spending on bar services was $ 2,365.

The more boutique businesses you have, the higher the level of service, and the more likely you will be charged. For example, at Peachtree, prices start at around $ 165 per person excluding alcohol and can go up to $ 200 per person depending on the upgrade and time of year.

What determines the price?

Per caterer Jon Weinrott, the typical wedding catering package includes starters for the cocktail hour (six starters and a food station usually do the work), the main meal (Peachtrees menus contain two protein options, a vegetarian or vegan starter alternative and) accompanying vegetables and Starch sides) and passed desserts. At Peachtree, beverage costs are separate (although some caterers combine food and drink in one pack), and a cake can be brought from another supplier.

Meet the expert

Jon Weinrott is the co-owner and president of Peachtree Catering & Events, a Philadelphia-based boutique catering company.

The service style has the biggest impact on your catering bill. The more waiters and equipment required to distribute a meal to guests, the more expensive it becomes. For this reason, family service, where large dishes of each menu item are distributed at the tables like Thanksgiving, is usually the most expensive style of service. “Each table receives serving containers and cutlery as well as enough staff to bring the family platters to each table without taking too long,” explains Buono.

You might be tempted to inquire about staff reductions to save money. Keep in mind, however, that your reception will only last a limited time – and guests should spend more time dancing and partying than waiting for their food.

While you might think that buffet-style service is the cheapest route, it isn’t always. It also requires a certain number of waiters to keep the queues moving and overall more food is needed to visually please guests. “Nobody wants to go to an almost empty buffet,” says Buono. A traditional seated dinner also requires waiters, but has the advantage of lowering direct food costs by reducing excess. “At dinner you know exactly what you need – especially if the guests specify their choice of food in advance,” says Weinrott.

Seasonality can also have a big impact on pricing. For example, a Saturday in spring or fall is considered a premium date and there is a cost to backing up a Saturday. However, if you are ready to book a less popular date such as B. a Friday or Sunday or something in winter or summer, this can be done at a lower price.

Expect additional costs

  1. Bar service. If the alcohol / beverage service is not included in your catering bill, this is a significant additional expense.
  2. Signature drinks. Some caterers charge an extra fee for creating custom cocktails that are served alongside the standard bar service.
  3. Champagne toast. This solemn moment is usually a fixed fee that is separate from the bar service.
  4. Stations visited by the chef. Activities such as carving stations and hand-rolled sushi require a chef to occupy the table. Expect their services to be an additional line item.
  5. Pasture tables. While the wicker tables are sure to become increasingly popular at cocktail hour, they are not yet universally standard in catering packages and can incur additional costs when served alongside butler starters.
  6. Menu upgrades. Would you like to serve surf & turf? This no doubt costs more than the fried chicken.
  7. Late night snacks. Candy at the end of the night and junk food are usually an additional fee as well.
  8. Exclusive use of the venue. If your caterer owns or operates your venue, you may see a line item on your bill about the use of the space.
  9. Rental upgrades. If your caterer offers them, there may be an additional fee for fancier linens, chairs, dishes, etc.
  10. Tip. Some caterers automatically take this into account in your invoice, while others do not. This is just one reason why it is important to always read your contract. An amount between 15 and 20 percent of your total food and beverage bill – regardless of the venue or rental fees – is generally considered fair.

If you want to hand out individual envelopes, Peachtree guidelines recommend waiters and kitchen staff between $ 25 and $ 50, while high-touch roles (your coordinator, chef, personal valet, etc.) typically suggest $ 75 to $ 100 receive .

Tips for saving money

Our experts share their insider tips for reducing wedding catering costs.

Be realistic.

You may love the idea of ​​a champagne bar, but before you commit, add up your guest list: if most are beer drinkers, the service – and the money you spend on it – will likely be lost.

Reduce the number of participants.

The first way to save money on a wedding is to limit the size of the celebration. “When a couple can cut down on their guest count, the bottom line in absolute dollars shrinks,” says Buono.

Be flexible with your date.

Caterers can only hold a certain number of events per day. If you’re willing to book an appointment that is less likely to already have a business, they may offer lower rates to keep your business safe.

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