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This Is the Average Cost of Wedding Catering

Here's how much you should expect to pay for your wedding day food.
maddy sims the knot associate editor
by Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Associate Editor
  • Maddy writes for The Knot, with a specialty in beauty, sustainability, mental health and inclusivity.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Maddy wrote for several different publications, including Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School ...
Updated Apr 13, 2020

Guests will remember an emotional set of vows and a wild dance floor, but oftentimes, they'll also remember a delicious wedding menu too. Whether you're hosting a casual brunch celebration, a restaurant-style soirée or a five-course dinner, the catering options are endless (and can certainly add up). So that you have a general idea of what to anticipate, here's the average wedding catering cost, according to an internal study.

According to our data, the average wedding catering cost was $9,170 (or, on average, $70 per head). However, many couples deem food (and professional catering) a worthy expense. Fifty-six percent of couples listed food and beverage as the most important priority while wedding planning. 

Keep in mind that this number, however, is a national average. The amount couples spend on their wedding day food varies widely across the country. Wedding catering prices differ based on the number of guests you invite, the venue you've chosen, the type of celebration you're having, and the food service options you choose. 

More and more to-be-weds are leaning into making their wedding menus inclusive (one of our 2020 wedding trends), with 35 percent of those surveyed saying they included gluten-free or vegan options. Others who wed last year used their food as a form of guest entertainment. Fourteen percent of couples had an interactive food experience, like a make-your-own nacho bar or a made-to-order crepe station, and three percent wheeled in a food truck. All of these Insta-worthy installments affect the price of your wedding food—and thus the national average.

To-be-weds are also using their wedding food as a way to personalize their wedding. One out of four couples reported incorporating locally-sourced products such as craft beer, produce or regional oysters (even Jennifer Lawrence did this at her Rhode Island nuptials). Not only is it a great way to pay homage to your wedding's location, you'll also make your wedding more eco-friendly since going local cuts down on carbon emissions. Couples also incorporated their backgrounds into their wedding menus with 14 percent of couples honoring their hometowns or their respective cultures through the menu. Our respondents reported serving everything from samosas to Philly cheesesteaks. 

And of course, if you're calculating the price of your wedding catering, you'll want to consider late-night snacks. If you decide to have an after-party, your guests will appreciate this surprise. Options include anything from mini burgers to pizza to breakfast food. Check with your caterer and see their pricing. Late-night grub was popular last year, as a fourth of all couples served snacks after hours.

Extras like linens, cutlery sets, dishes, and service may bring the overall price of wedding catering up, so be sure to talk to your vendor about what their prices include. Psst: be sure to factor in the tip so that you have a clear idea of how much your wedding catering is going to cost.

The takeaway is you can make your own rules when it comes to wedding food (simply ensure you have enough to feed your guests of course). The grub at your nuptials should reflect your unique story. Whether that's your favorite pizza, a well-cooked steak or a vegetarian menu is totally up to you. If you're seeking catering inspiration, look to details of your love story like where you had your first kiss or what your go-to date night food is. Once you have an idea of what you'd like, contact potential caterers to see their pricing. And if you need extra help with your wedding spend, check out The Knot Budgeting Tool. Remember: sharing a special meal with all of your loved ones on your wedding day makes it all worth it.

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