This Is the Average Cost of Wedding Catering

Your caterer will be one of your pricier pros—here’s how much you should expect to pay for it.
by Sophie Ross

Your guests gotta eat. But if you’re having a sit-down dinner, cocktail hour (complete with delicious hors d'oeuvres) and a late-night snack option, the costs of catering can add up—and you might end up spending a more sizeable chunk of your budget on food than you originally intended.

According to our 2017 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of catering in 2017 was $6,528 (or, on average, $70 per head). Of course, this number will always depend on the size of your guest list—and the venue you’ve chosen.

Lots of reception venues will handle catering—in fact, more than half of respondents in our study (54 percent) reported that their catering was part of the reception venue package. Forty-one percent hired an independent caterer, and the rest of the respondents didn’t hire a professional caterer at all (instead, most likely, serving up potluck style dinner or enlisting family members to cook for their celebration).


Wondering how to get the best deal? Those who hired an independent caterer ultimately paid significantly less per person—only $48—compared to those whose catering was included in the reception package ($86).

You’re also more likely to pay less if you’re having a casual wedding—those respondents were more likely to hire an independent caterer (57 percent)—and thus, pay less—or to not have catering at all (12 percent).

And if you’re having a formal or black tie wedding, you should definitely expect to dedicate more of your budget to grub. Twenty-one percent of respondents paid more than $101 per person, and according to our study, formal or black tie weddings are more likely to have all the fixings, such as cocktail hour (86 percent), full-service meal (67 percent), food favors (38 percent) and interactive food stations (21 percent).

Either way, whatever you’re serving up at your wedding, you can probably expect to pay some cheddar for it (and we can help you manage said cheddar, right here).

Find a caterer in your area.

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