How much does Catering cost?

It’s no secret that all good parties and events, involve great music, mingling with guests and most importantly delicious food. However, trying to juggle the entertainment as well as cooking gourmet food that meet all of the guest’s requirements, is no easy feat and let’s be honest, the food can make or break a party. This is where a specialised catering company comes to the rescue.

The right catering company can ensure delicious tasting food that accommodates to all guests’ palettes, providing an experience guaranteed to sweep guests off their feet and will also save time in the kitchen, permitting you to concentrate on all the mingling. The question is at what cost?

We take a look at the cost of catering for events, weddings and small soirees and what you should look into when it comes to booking a catering company for your next event.

How much does wedding catering cost?

Whilst the guests may not particularly remember the precise details of the music for the first dance or the name of the groom’s dad, you can bet your bottom dollar they will certainly remember the incredible meal they devoured and the wedding cake that subsequently followed.

Modern day couples are putting a whole lot of effort into the food they serve at their wedding reception, replacing the standard chicken and beef main with an exploration of various food trucks, interactive stations and cocktail catering. In fact, catering has well and truly become one of the most important factors in a wedding budget, and it is also one of the most enjoyable parts of the reception for guests. So how much exactly are we talking in food costs for wedding catering?

The average cost for a wedding in 2020 was approximately $9800, with the average guest threshold being roughly 98 people, equating to $100 a head for the food. In saying this, there are many factors to take into consideration which will fluctuate pricing, inclusive of the food you require and how many people are in attendance at the wedding.

How Much Does Catering an event cost?

Hosting a party in the comfort of your own home is an intimate experience that you can’t really recreate in your local restaurant or in a hired venue. When the event is at your house, you don’t have to worry about screaming over the top of other people to get a word in edge wise or wait an hour for your food to arrive, because the restaurant is absolutely packed. Instead, you can pull out your favourite china plates, decorate the house, use your favourite table linen and include all the little special touches to the dinner table. This creates such a personal feel and makes the occasion so memorable for the guests who attend. In saying this, the grocery shopping for all the ingredients for your eloquent banquet can take time and then you have to consider the preparation and cooking of all the food you plan to plate up for your guests which can be quite time consuming and stressful. This is where hiring a caterer, to take the added weight off your shoulders, is a god send.

The question on everyone’s mind is how much does event catering cost? An excellent question with a very exasperating answer, it really depends, as there are several factors that will affect how much the event will cost. Private events can shift a lot in price because the number of guests being hosted will vary, the quality and style of the food catered also changes from household to household and also the quality of staff provided at the event will differ depending on the hosts. However, in saying this, there are some ballpark numbers to give a rough idea of incurring costs.

Catered parties or events are usually calculated by the head and there is a minimum number of guests you are required to guarantee will be attending. Prices of catering can be as little as $9 a head, if you opt for simple food choices, and can go up to approximately $25-$40 if you go all out, with choices such as lobster or ribs.

It should be noted that the delivery, cleaning up, alcoholic beverages and the staffing may come at an additional cost, something to definitely research prior to hiring the catering company.

If you are opting for a very chilled, informal catered gathering for friends there is the option of ordering platters, instead of going down the path of paying per person. The platters will offer some appetisers and sandwiches which will feed up to 20 people and should cost nothing over $150, plus delivery charge. You could also opt for a food truck, to save on costs, or a pop-up option and that will cost up to $25 per person, depending on the food you choose, which is very cost effective if you think about all the cleaning up you get to avoid.

Catering Items to include in costs for catering:

Canapes (Cocktail)

The canapes are the real party starter because they offer the initial social aspect to the party, inviting guests to ease in nicely to conversation amongst themselves, whilst enjoying the elegant finger food and the drinks in between. The appetizing canapes will start at a cost of $10-$20, which could also increase if you have an appetite for oysters and caviar. If your looking at hosting a cocktail event, you will be looking at $40-$70 per person for a complete event.

Grazing Tables

A grazing table is the hip alternative to the stock standard style of catering. With a wide selection of cured meats, delicious cheese, gourmet dips which are all nestled around a bed of seasonal fruits, chocolates and other goodies. These are all delightfully arranged on a rustic wooden board, to give it a wow factor. The food usually looks so good you don’t want to mess up the arrangement. For the grazing kind of experience, you will be looking at roughly $15-$20 for a starter to $30-$40 per person for a large grazing spread.

Buffets

A buffet style meal means the dinner and dessert never really ends, until you basically have to roll yourself home. This style of catering allows the guests to line up for their food and then to come and go back and forth as they please. This style of meal will cost roughly between $30-$70 per head, if you are selecting pricier dinner items the cost will increase.

Plated 3+ courses

The plated meal allows the guest to sit down at their allocated table and enjoy the wait staff placing meals in front of them, in courses. The cost of this style of catering will very much vary depending on the type of food the guests are served and also the number of waiters that are serving the food to guests. An average cost is around $15-$45 per course per person.

Live Stations

Having a live food station at an event, is a fun alternative to catering, as the guests get to watch the chef prepare and cook the food as they stand and watch. The cost of this will range, depending on the type of food you desire to have prepared by the chef, but it will most likely cost around $50-$70 per person, and when you think about it you really are paying for an experience on top of the delicious food.

Bar/Beverages

Alcohol is definitely a money gobbler when it comes to hosting an event, especially if there is the option of an open bar. The open bar will give the guests an unlimited amount of alcohol, which can put a really big dent in the wallet at $50 per person. Another option is having a full bar which gives guests access to spirits, beers, and wine to enjoy, but not unlimited. Instead a budget will be determined before the event and the guests will consume until the alcohol runs dry.

What is the cost of catering for 30-100 people?

Catering for larger groups of 30-100, whether for a corporate event or a birthday bash, is a little bit more costly than those little intimate house dinners. The standard drop-off event catering service is on par with eating at a restaurant, plus the 10-20% delivery fee, but bear in mind the price will be lower if you are eating at a cheap restaurant in comparison to if you are wining and dining at the Shangri-La. Top quality drop off catering will incur a fee of roughly $25-$30 per person, with the delivery fee included.

Comparing the catering price to a restaurant price is a great rule for drop offs, so that you have something to gauge off instead of diving in and spending all your money. Larger events 50-100 will usually require more than just a drop off, including bartenders and wait staff who are paid hourly as well as the liquor liability insurance and other costs which will increase the base cost. There is usually the add on of decorative linen, plates and cutlery, equipment, a marquee and glass ware to consider in the costs as well. You would want to ensure the event ran smoothly, therefore hiring quality staff to take care of the food, inclusive of cleaning up permits time to focus on the many guests around the venue. For this type of event with a full service of catering, you would be looking at around $50-$75 as a ballpark approximate, per person, which is very reasonable considering you get to enjoy yourself the entire evening, being completely present whilst entertaining guests and you get to eat delicious, freshly prepared gourmet food.

Food

The cost of food should be included in the package you select, depending on the style of catering you request

Beverages

Depending on the type of package you purchase with a catering company, it’s likely that the company will adhere to providing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on the day. In saying this you can expect to pay a little bit extra for this package. If this is not within the budget an option would be to have a venue of your own and give the choice of BYO with a small corkage fee. Additionally, you could also hire an alcohol supplier or consider a pop-up bar that caters to alcoholic beverages.

Staffing

The staffing that is present at the event will depend on the style of catering you require for the event and the number of guests. Staffing usually include chefs, servers and some bartenders. Depending on the catering you require, you may select to have less staff, especially if you opt for a food truck or a food buffet option over a sit-down formal dinner.

Supplies to consider when costing catering

Equipment

The cost of the equipment utilised throughout the catering event is usually factored in to the cost per person, but it is always worth double checking with the catering company, to deter any miscommunication or added costs.

Marquees

The marquee varies in sizes and the one purchased will depend on the number of guests in attendance at the event being hosted and this will impact the price tag. Things to consider are whether you require just a roofed marquee, a marquee with a roof and walls or if you want to go all out and get the roof, walls and wooden floor. You also need to consider whether the event is a standing cocktail event or whether it’s a seated catered event. Though an exact an exact amount can’t be calculated, a marquee will cost roughly between $800-$3000. There are smaller, perhaps cheaper marquees available, but again this depends on the budget and the number of guests.

Plates, Cutlery and Glassware

You would be eating with your hands using a napkin if the plates, cutlery and glassware hadn’t been considered. Most catering companies factor these little prices in with the total cost per person, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to double check prior to booking your catering company.

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