Price range for caterers?

silversarahApril 4, 2007


I'm getting married this summer and am trying to arrange for a catered meal at the reception. My mom got in touch with a caterer who did her best friend's daughter's wedding, who she said was really good. They just sent us some sample menus, which look amazing -- unfortunately, so are the prices. My fiance and I are experiencing some severe sticker shock.

Does anyone know what a normal price range is for catering for about 100 guests? We want a buffet with a combination of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, and the wedding is sort of mid-range -- not super fancy, but we want it to be classy. Also, it is in the Washington, DC area.

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The cost will depend on where you live. I live in the Northwest and a catered buffet with one meat entree would be about $20 to $23 per person. If you add a second meat entree, the cost would go up by about $3 per person. If you serve heavy hors d'oeuvres with salad, fruit, etc., you might be able to do it for $18 to $20 per person.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 7:04PM
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also check into the difference between buffet and a "plated" dinner.

People think of buffets as being less money, but I have read event-planners' websites in which they say that, because you have to have so much more food, buffets are actually more expensive.

And, hors d'oeuvres can be more sometimes because most hors d'oeuvres are labor-intensive to prepare.

It's going to be so regional, I think you'll just need to look into 5 or 6 places to see what you can get for what you want to spend.

And ask around among other people in your area. Amazing menus often have amazing price; more plebian caterers might serve perfectly enjoyable food at more plebian prices.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 10:26AM
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There is a trade-off between the costs of a buffet and a plated dinner because a buffet contains more food, but it takes fewer servers. With a plated dinner, the staff is much larger, so you either pay for food or you pay for labor.

Some hors d'oeuvres are labor-intensive but they usually are less expensive than serving portions of meat, particularly if a carving station is involved.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 6:12PM
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I would come up with an amount you want to spend and ask two or three caterers what they could do with that budget. That has always worked well for me. You may be pleasantly surprised if you let THEM come up with the solutions.

I agree about buffets. They don't necessarily save any money. Also, many people (not me) dislike them; they hate waiting in line (in high heels), balancing plates and drinks without spilling on their party clothes, etc. The only things I didn't like when we had a buffet once was that it was harder to control the pace of the evening, and we did run out of one popular item before all the tables were served -- and this was a very experienced caterer, and even she guessed wrong on that item.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 10:13PM
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