Many brides and corporate heads call about this time of year with the same question, “What is the average cost per person for catering?” I am sure to someone outside of the catering industry that might sound like a fairly simple question to answer. For someone who has decades of experience catering in Aiken and Augusta, you would think I would have a magic guide to tell you exactly what to expect. But the reality is, no two events are ever the same. And although brides and party hosts think their requests are standard, they rarely are. So if a caterer gives you a price off of the top of his head, that is, a huge red flag.

What is the Average Wedding Catering Cost Per Person?

According to wedding wire, the average cost per person at a wedding event can vary from $40 per person for a plated event to $27 for a buffet-style event. Buffet-style weddings tend to cost less than plated dinners simply because they don’t require the same staffing or rentals. There is also a lot of food variations with a buffet-style that tend to cost less. But buffet-style doesn’t always mean less expensive or less elegant. There are often times when my clients, who have a larger budget, will opt to choose a buffet line.

What About the Cost of Alcohol?

For some weddings, the cost of alcohol can be a significant additional cost. On average, the cost per person to stock a bar is somewhere around $15. There are different options you can choose to keep costs low. You can have a full bar, which means that it is fully stocked with wines, hard alcohol, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages. A limited bar is a little less expensive and consists of wine and beer with non-alcoholic beverages. Or, for those on a limited budget, the option of a cash bar, means that each attendee pays their own bar tab. Some caterers will also offer different options, like either you pay per drink, or you can pay a flat fee. If you know that you have a set of drinkers in the crowd, then the flat fee might make it a little less costly, but it is always a coin toss.

What are Ways to Reduce Your Wedding Catering Costs?

There are ways to reduce your wedding catering costs. Things like limiting the amount of alcohol that your guests can drink will keep your bar tab down or offering a cash bar. Don’t let cocktail hour be more expensive than need be. Choose less expensive appetizers on stationary platters instead of having someone walk them around. And, lastly, choose a time that is outside the ordinary, like having a brunch reception or on a Sunday event. Brunch foods tend to cost less, and Sunday venue rentals are almost always less expensive.

So if you want to know what the average cost per person for catering your holiday party is, the answer is, “I can’t tell you.” That doesn’t mean that I can’t tell you after we sit down and go through the specifics of your wedding hopes. What I can tell you is that I have been doing this long enough to fit things into your budget without sacrificing quality or taste. Dates for the New Year are closing up fast…reserve yours at the Deft Chef today!

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