How to Estimate Food Costs for a Wedding Party of 150

Updated February 21, 2017

After the bride's dress, food is one of the most important details of a wedding. What you choose to feed your guests should fit within your budget, express your tastes and be enjoyable to your friends and family. When estimating your food costs for a party of 150, consider whether or not you will have a hors d'oeuvres reception, buffet with no cocktail hour and a limited bar, or a sit down dinner with an open bar and hors d'oeuvres distributed among the guests as they mingle. Make decisions that fit within your budget and the time of day you are hosting your wedding reception.

Choose a wedding reception location. Find out the site's rules regarding outside caterers and alcohol. Try to select a location that fits your budget and desires but also gives you freedom to choose who you want to have provide food for your wedding reception and which gives you options regarding liquor. Be aware that some churches will not allow liquor to be served in their reception halls and plan accordingly.

Estimate your good costs by deciding what kind of food you will provide to your guests. According to the Bridal Association of America, as of 2009, the average cost for a wedding caterer is £8,313 for 150 guests, which includes food, drinks, cake and service. That cost works out to about £55 per guest. You can spend less, down to as little as £13 a person, by holding your reception at an inexpensive barbecue or Chinese restaurant. You should plan on £19-$70 per guest for hot hors d'oeuvres, salads and a bar serving only wine and beer. Plan on costs up to as much as £81-$350 or more per person if you hold your reception at an upscale hotel, country club or resort and serve appetizers as well as a sit-down multi-course meal and open bar. Where you hold your wedding reception will affect your catering costs substantially.

Confirm these estimates and get more exact estimates for your wedding by contacting at least three caterers and restaurants. You may decide to meet with your top two potential food providers in person. While meeting, asking what they provide for the various price ranges. Ensure that flatware, glasses and table linens are included in the caterer's final estimate. Ask for a comparison of prices for a buffet and a plated, multi-course meal.

Compare the costs of having an open bar versus a cash bar. (At an open bar you pay for the liquor while at a cash bar your guests pay for what they drink.) You may consider using a ticket system to provide each guest with one or two drinks. If you do not wish to serve alcohol, ask what the caterer charges for soft drinks. Many caterers will provide water and iced tea as part of the food cost.

Clarify the caterer's policy on gratuity and factor that into your food estimates. Some caterers add 15 to 25 per cent gratuity onto your bill automatically while others let you decide how much you want to tip. Either way, calculate the cost and include it with your food estimate.


Lower your food costs by holding a lunch reception as opposed to a dinner reception. Lunch portions are smaller and guests tend to drink less alcohol.

Things You'll Need

  • Budget
  • Caterer
  • Wedding reception location
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