How Much Does It Cost To Cater A Wedding

How Much Does It Cost To Cater A Wedding?

How much does it really cost to cater a wedding? 

If you want to have a memorable wedding, then you might consider hiring a caterer.

How Much Does It Cost To Cater A Wedding

The catering industry has grown significantly over the years, and now there are more than 3 million caterers across the globe.

You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional caterer to host a successful event. In fact, you can easily plan and execute a great party using simple ingredients from around the house.

However, if you do decide to go with a professional caterer, the cost will be significantly more. Let’s find out more. 

General Expenses

The average wedding budget also includes the following expenses:

Food Costs

This includes all food items that guests consume during the reception (including beverages). It doesn’t include any additional food items that you may order for yourself.

Alcoholic Drinks

You can expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per guest on alcohol alone.


This includes everything related to decorating the wedding venue. For example, flowers, candles, centerpieces, tablecloths, linens, etc.

Catering Services

If you choose to use a professional caterer for your wedding, they will likely charge an hourly rate. The fee depends on the amount of time spent preparing the menu and serving the food.

Catering fees vary greatly based on the type of service you choose. Some companies offer full-service catering while others only provide basic catering options. Here are some examples:

Full-Service Catered Events 

These events typically involve a chef who prepares menus for multiple courses throughout the entire event. He/she also serves the food and cleans up after the event.

Basic Catered Events 

A basic catered event involves a team of chefs who prepare one course of meals for the duration of the event.

Other Costs

Other Costs

There are several other costs associated with hosting a wedding. These include taxes, insurance, travel, lodging, etc.


Taxes are required by law to be paid by anyone who earns money. Since most people earn money when they work, they must pay taxes on their earnings.


Insurance covers the risk of loss or damage to property. Most businesses require employees to purchase liability insurance. This protects them against lawsuits filed by third parties.


Lodging refers to the expense of staying overnight at a hotel. This can be expensive since hotels often charge high rates.

If you plan to stay at a hotel, you should consider booking a room at a hotel near the wedding venue. Hotels near the venue are generally less expensive than those located far away.


Entertainment is an important part of any wedding. There are many types of entertainment available. From live bands to DJs, there are plenty of choices.

You can hire a band or DJ to perform music during the ceremony and reception. Live bands are more common, but DJs are becoming increasingly popular.

Some couples prefer hiring a DJ because they want to keep the focus on their special day instead of having to worry about entertaining the crowd.

DJs are also great for larger weddings where the number of guests exceeds the capacity of a single band.

DJs are also very affordable. You may be able to find a good DJ for as little as $100.

Most DJs will set up their equipment before the ceremony begins. They will then play background music until the bride and groom arrive.

After the couple leaves the dance floor, the DJ will start playing songs from his or her playlist.

The average cost of a wedding ranges between $10,000 and $30,000. However, this price varies depending on the size of your wedding party, location, and whether you use a professional photographer or not.

Here is an idea of what various aspects of a wedding can cost.

  • Wedding Party Size (in People) – $5,000-$15,000
  • Ceremony Only – $2,500-$3,000
  • Reception Only – $1,500-$2,500
  • Wedding Party + Reception – $4,000-$6,000
  • Bride’s Attire – $800-$1,200
  • Groom’s Attire – $600-$900
  • Hair & Makeup – $300-$400
  • Photographer – $1,500+
  • Musician – $250-$350
  • Invitations – $50-150
  • Food/Drinks – $1,000-$2,000

What Are The Most Expensive Parts Of A Wedding? 

What Are The Most Expensive Parts Of A Wedding

There are many things that go into planning a wedding. Some of these items are optional while others are mandatory.

The following list includes some of the most expensive parts of a wedding:


Location is one of the biggest factors in determining the overall cost of a wedding. If you choose a destination wedding, you will have to pay for travel costs, lodging, food, activities, etc.


Choosing a wedding venue can also add significantly to the total cost of your big day. Many venues require deposits which could run anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000.

Wedding Dress 

Your wedding dress is probably the most expensive item on your wedding budget.

It is imperative that you get this right so that you don’t end up spending thousands of dollars on something that doesn’t fit properly.

Wedding Cake 

Cakes can range in price from $300 to $1,500. The higher the cake, the better the presentation.


Flowers are another major expense. You can spend hundreds of dollars per arrangement if you buy them directly from a florist. Buying flowers wholesale can save you money.


Photographers can charge anywhere from $1,500 to $25,000 for an engagement session and $7,000 to $40,000 for a wedding.


Music plays a significant role at any event. Whether you hire a live band or a DJ, you should expect to shell out several hundred dollars for each song played during the reception.


Entertainment adds to the overall cost of a reception. Live bands can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $8,000 per hour.

Professional entertainers such as magicians, comedians, and singers can cost even more.

What Food Is Typically Served At A Wedding? 

What Food Is Typically Served At A Wedding

Many couples opt to serve their guests a buffet style meal instead of having sit down dinners. Buffets typically consist of appetizers, salads, entrées, desserts, and beverages.

Depending on the number of people attending your wedding, you may need to purchase additional dishes and silverware.


Appetizers usually include finger foods like cheese sticks, crackers, dips, olives, nuts, chips, and salsa. They are often served before dinner to whet the appetite.


Salads are usually served with appetizers or between courses. There are two types of salad: cold and hot.

Cold salads are served chilled and contain lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, peppers, onions, and dressing.

Hot salads are served warm and contain cooked vegetables, pasta, rice, beans, chicken, beef, seafood, eggs, and other ingredients.


Entrées are the main course of the meal. Most weddings offer three options: meat, fish, and vegetarian. Meat entrées include steak, pork chops, hamburgers, veal cutlets, lamb chops, and chicken.

Fish choices include salmon, tuna, tilapia, cod, snapper, grouper, mackerel, shrimp, lobster, crab legs, and clams. Vegetarian options include tofu, tempeh, seitan, vegetable burgers, and falafel.


Desserts are typically served after the meal and are similar to those offered at restaurants.

Some popular desserts include cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, cheesecakes, ice cream, sorbet, fruit, and chocolate bars.


Beverage options vary depending on what type of food is being served. For example, wine goes well with most meals but not all.

Beer is also a common beverage choice. If you plan to serve alcoholic drinks, make sure that you have enough glasses and bottles available. 

What Makes Wedding Catering Expensive? 

What Makes Wedding Catering Expensive

Catering prices vary based on location, menu items, and services provided. The following factors influence the price of catering:


Your caterer must travel to get to your venue. Expect to pay around $50 to $100 per mile.

Menu Items

Each item has its own set price. For example, an appetizer costs less than a dessert.

Services Provided 

Additional services like bartenders, servers, florists, DJs, photographers, etc., add to the cost of catering.

Wedding Planners

Many caterers charge extra fees for hiring a wedding planner. It’s always best to hire someone who specializes in this area.

The average cost of catering for a wedding ranges from $2,000 to $3,500.

The Best Way To Plan a Wedding Menu 

Planning a wedding menu can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Here’s how to choose a menu that fits your budget and tastes.

1. Start With What You Want

It doesn’t matter what kind of wedding you’re planning—from a casual backyard barbecue to a formal sit-down dinner—if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want, you’ll end up spending money on things you don’t need.

Before you even think about picking out menus, decide what you want your guests to eat and drink. Then, write down everything you’d like them to enjoy.

This list should include beverages (wine, beer, soda), appetizers, entrées, sides, and desserts.

2. Choose A Budget

Once you’ve decided what you want to serve, create a budget. Think about how much each guest will spend and then figure out how many people you expect to attend.

Add up all the expenses and divide by the number of guests. This will give you an estimate of how much you’ll spend on each person.

Now, subtract any savings you might find from your income or assets. If you’re having a large party, you may want to consider asking family members and friends to contribute toward the cost of catering.

They could split the bill among themselves, or they could donate some of their time to help cook and clean up afterward.

3. Consider Location And Theme

If you’re having a rustic outdoor wedding, you won’t necessarily need fancy dishes. However, if you’re hosting a more formal event, you’ll probably want to order several courses.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want to serve alcohol. If so, you’ll need to determine which wines are appropriate for your event.

Some people prefer white wine while others prefer red. If you’re serving wine at your wedding, you’ll need to buy a minimum amount of wine for every guest. If you’re not serving alcohol, you can skip this step.

4. Decide On Menus

Now that you know how much you can afford, it’s time to pick a menu. When choosing a menu, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t go overboard with too many choices. Too many options can make it difficult for guests to decide what to eat.
  • Make sure there is enough variety. If you only offer one type of food, such as pizza, chances are most of your guests won’t get to try anything else.
  • Be realistic. If you plan to serve five different types of salad, you’ll need to provide at least five different dressings.

How Can I Save Money On Catering At My Wedding?

How Can I Save Money On Catering At My Wedding

Catering prices can be high, especially if you’re planning a large wedding. Fortunately, there are ways to save money without compromising quality.

The most important thing when planning your wedding is to be realistic about what you can afford, and then make sure to save money wherever possible. Your guests will appreciate this more than anything else.

If you choose an outdoor location, you don’t necessarily need to hire caterers. Many local businesses will cater your event for free.

In addition to saving money, catering outdoors allows you to enjoy your special day outside.

Ask family members and friends who have recently been married how much they paid for their catering services.

It could give you an idea of how much you should expect to pay. You may also be able to get a discount if you use the same caterer. 

Look into hiring a professional caterer. Hiring a reputable company will ensure that your wedding is properly prepared and presented.

This includes serving delicious food, setting up tables and chairs, providing utensils and plates, and cleaning up afterwards. A good caterer will also take care of any last minute details that might arise.

Final Thoughts

Remember that you don’t always have to go with the traditional buffet style meal. Instead, you can offer a variety of foods including salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, and other options. 

Just remember that whatever you do, you don’t want to skimp on the quality of food. After all, you’ll be eating it for the next few days!

Lisa Plaitt