How much does it cost to cater a wedding?

Updated April 17, 2017

When planning a wedding, one of the biggest expenses is the catering bill for the reception. This amount varies, but by taking certain factors into consideration, you can estimate what your catering costs will be.

Expected Attendance

Decide on a guest list. Catering a wedding with 150 people will cost three times more than a wedding with 50.

On or Off Site

The difference between on- and off-site catering is usually nominal, but it can make a difference. Off-site caterers need to rent equipment, such as flatware and glassware, which will add to the cost. Holding a wedding at a place such as a hotel will usually allow caterers to use everything in its inventory.

Type of Service

The cost of having a buffet at the reception is typically going to be higher than a plated reception because people tend to eat more food if a buffet is available. Having a cocktail party instead of a reception with a full meal is often the most inexpensive option.

Chicken or Beef?

The most cost-effective meal option is a plated chicken dish. If you offer your guests a choice, most caterers will charge the higher menu price for all meals. For example, if a chicken plate costs £32.40 and a beef plate is £38.90, expect to pay £38.90 for every plate.

Service Charge

Most caterers add a service charge of 18 per cent to 25 per cent onto the bill. That covers the cost of their labour, but it can add quite a bit to your bill.


According to the Bridal Association of America's 2006 wedding report, the average catering bill is £7,960, which includes just the food and the beverages. This is based on an average of 150 people, so you can expect to spend approximately £53 per person.

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About the Author

Based in California, Daniel Zisko has been a writer since 2008, penning articles for a variety of online publications. Before he started a writing career, he spent several years traveling and working as a hotel manager for several different hotel properties. Zisko holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from National University with a minor in biology.