How Much Should You Spend on the Caterer for Your Big Day?

Wedding Catering

Couples that planned their own wedding know how stressful it is weeks, and even months, leading up to their big day. One of the crucial areas they need to decide on is the caterer. After all, food can make or break the event. You may have the best decorations, the grandest celebration, the tallest cake, but if the meals are bland, your guests leave unsatisfied. 

Of course, you do not want to blow your budget on food. Seattle area professionals at note that roughly 50% of your budget will go to the venue and the catering. However, there are also other expenses to consider.

So, how much should you spend on the catering service?

To give you an idea, you can take a look at the 2018 Real Weddings Study as a baseline. Couples spent an average of $70 per head for their wedding caterer. However, 20% of the respondents in the survey revealed that they spent more than $100 per person. 

If you are going for a basic service, you typically have two choices:


This option is more suited to traditional weddings. Waiters will go around and bring the plates to the table while the guests remain seated. The number of courses will depend on the package. But typically, they will be served appetizers, a main course, and dessert. You will incur more expenses to pay for the servers, as the catering service will add this into the overall cost.

You will find that your expenses will rack up quickly if you have a large wedding, especially if the catering service will need to send over more staff. Make sure you know the tipping arrangements. That is the reason why a plated option is more suited for an intimate wedding.


The buffet option is ideal for a more casual occasion. You have a long table where all the dishes are displayed. They start from the appetizers, mains, sides, dessert, and drinks. The caterer will typically assign one or two people to dole out each item to guests to control the portions. However, the couple and the VIP guests remain seated at their tables while the catering staff will serve them the food.

The buffet table is perfect when you expect to have plenty of children at your wedding, as they can be picky eaters. A dessert table is also a popular late-night option that can be added on to your basic catering package. Also, the buffet option may be the better choice if you are planning a large wedding. The more guests you have, the less you pay per plate. 

In recent years, caterers have offered more options to their clients like a food truck, meals on top of conveyor belts, cocktail hours, and the like. 

What Goes into the Catering Service?

When you hire a catering service, the package will likely include:

  1. Food and beverages
  2. Staff and servers
  3. Plates and utensils
  4. Bartender if you have a bar at your wedding

In some cases, the catering service will also provide the chairs and tables, glassware, and others. You can certainly ask them if you need some extra help. These are not included in the original package, so they will add this to the overall cost. 

Whatever option you pick, you can be sure that your friends and family will have a delicious meal — isn’t that all we can want for our guests at our wedding?

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