How to Charge for Catering a Party

Written by maggie mccormick
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How to Charge for Catering a Party
Determine how much to charge to cater a wedding. (Tomaten image by WR from

Quoting a price for catering can be a challenge. You want the price to be low enough to attract the customer, but high enough for you to make a decent profit. Pricing catering jobs tends to be a bit of an art form, but as time goes on, you'll get better at determining your actual costs for the event. To get started, use a simple formula that covers the basics and give the customer a quote that's appropriate for you both.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Ask about the details of the party. You should know how many people will be attending, what types of foods the customer wants you to prepare and how long the party will last. These details will all affect the cost of your services.

  2. 2

    Estimate the amount it will cost you to purchase the food. Include all of the ingredients that you will need to make the meal. A wholesale food company will help you reduce the costs. The more people the customer is expecting at the party, the higher your food costs.

  3. 3

    Factor in the cost of labour. This includes your work and the work of any people that you'll have to hire before, during and after the party.

  4. 4

    Get quotes on large equipment you may need to rent. If your company doesn't yet have plates or certain gadgets you need to make the food, you'll have to rent these and you need to include the cost in your estimate.

  5. 5

    Calculate your overhead costs. This includes the cost of your advertising, space rental, gas mileage for delivery and other such things. To determine how much of this to add for a catering estimate, you should divide the total number by the number of catering jobs you expect to do each month.

  6. 6

    Add up all of these costs. This is the number that you need to break even.

  7. 7

    Mark up the cost to include a reasonable profit. An additional 30 to 50 per cent will give your company a nice profit.

Tips and warnings

  • Your first quote should be high in case the customer wants to negotiate. If you start with the lowest possible cost, negotiations can eat into your profit.
  • Consider accepting a lower profit margin on a job that will offer regular business. For example, catering the monthly sales meeting for a corporate client is a regular gig, while catering a wedding party is not.

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