The Average Catering Costs for a Wedding

Updated November 21, 2016

One of the biggest expenses of a wedding and reception is the cost of catering. Of course, the fee is dependent on how many people you are feeding, what you are feeding them, the time of day that you are feeding them and whether it is buffet style or full service.

Average Cost

The average cost of a wedding caterer is £8,313, notes the Bridal Association of America. This is based on the average number of guests (150), which breaks down to £55 per person. This includes drinks, drink service, food, food service, cake and cake cutting fees. If you live in a big city, on the west coast or in the northwest, expect to pay 30 per cent more.


If you are feeding 150 people at your reception and you are not serving top-of-the-line food, but certainly perfectly satisfactory fare, calculate that the cost is £19 per person. On top of that you need to figure in the cost of servers, who may get as much as £16 per hour; sales tax; tables; chairs; linen; and tableware. Decide how long your reception is going to last, because that will determine how much you are going to spend on servers and bartenders. You may have to rent wine glasses. There are tips to be considered. A reception of this nature for 150 guests amounts to approximately £4,550.


If you do not serve alcohol at your reception and have the event in a casual place, such as a restaurant, the cost can be as low as £13 per person. If you have a limited bar, no cocktail hour, and an hors d'oeuvres buffet or reception this will cost approximately £45 per guest. If you have a cocktail hour followed by a sit-down dinner at an upscale locale, it can cost between £81 and £227 per person.

Time and Location

Scheduling a day wedding and reception is less expensive because people don't drink as much alcohol during the day, and prices per meal are less because the portions are smaller. Additionally, if you need outside caterers they will charge for labour, which runs between £9 to £16 per hour per waiter and £29 for a chef.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.