In Case You Were Wondering: The Cost of Catering

When people start planning parties, weddings, or meetings they will come to me and ask the million dollar question: How much is everything going to cost? I get asked this question a lot.

The most important thing to remember here is that no two events are the same. Each will have different needs and be in different situations. The second most important thing to remember is to set your budget to be in line with your expectations.

If you are dreaming of a full service sit down meal, don’t budget for a buffet. Both are great and will feed your guests, but a lot more is entailed in a full service meal.

I asked our friends over at Creative Catering & Events to shed some light on the whole catering thing!

Jill Crosby, Director of Catering Sales & Support says the amount that people should budget per person depends on variables such as buffet vs plated, beverage & bar services, china vs upscale disposables, and staffing.

Buffet vs Plated

Typically for a buffet, our clients tend to want to provide at least 2 protein options for their guests.  This runs $24.95 per person unless there is an upgrade (seafood, expensive beef cut, etc.)  That would include salad, 2 proteins, starch, veggie, rolls & butter.  The most economic option we have is our Down Home Southern Picnic for $16.95 ~ Pulled Pork Barbeque, Creamy Coleslaw, Macaroni and Cheese and Cornbread or Rolls with Butter, and for an additional $2.00 you can add Grilled Chicken.

Buffet usually serves the most guests the most expeditiously.  With plated, clients would need to choose between 2-3 main entrees, usually a chicken, beef or seafood, and a vegetarian option, which they make their guests aware of their options when they mail out invitations.  Guests would make their entree selection with their RSVP so we know how much of each to prepare.  This is less per person because you are only providing one entree per guest ($20.95), but where you save in food, is replaced by expense in servers as it takes far more servers to operate a plated dinner, which is usually China rather than disposables, which also requires more man power to handle the dishes behind the scenes.  So where staff may cost you $450 for 100 guests for a buffet, it would double for plated, plus a Chef’s fee of $200 to be on site to plate each entree.

 So, a buffet reception for 100 guests with 3 beverage options, upscale disposables, 3 servers and us handling their cake cutting, it averages out to about $37.35 per person.  For a plated reception for 100 guests, 3 beverage options, China that we have in-house, 6 servers and us handling the cake cutting, est $40.95, plus bar services if you choose.

Beverages & Bar Services

Beverages are $1.95 for 2 options, $2.95 for 3 options, and $3.95 for 4 options (sweet tea, unsweetened tea, lemonade and water or infused water).

To add bar services would be an additional $14.95 per person for Beer & Wine for 4 hours; OR $22.95 per person for Liquor Well for 3 hours (includes Beer & Wine Bar, plus 5 Liquors and all mixers) OR $26.95 per person Liquor Call for 3 hours ~ (includes Beer & Wine Bar, plus 5 Name Brand Liquors and all mixers), plus a bartender for $200.  One bartender is usually able to handle about 100 guests, we can add bartenders for a larger size group.

 China vs Upscale Disposables

China rentals run an average of $5.95 per person. Disposables run $1.95 for a Chinet equivalent, $2.95 for black round disposables, and $3.95 for an upscale disposable that are square and come in black, cream or white, with silver plastic cutlery.


According to Jill, staffing is usually one of the elements that surprises people because many times they think of it as more of a delivery rather than catering. For corporate events or if it is truly just delivery, that price is included in the delivery fee. But for a wedding, it takes several sets of hands to make your very special day run smoothly, look nice and elegant, maintain the integrity of the food, bus tables, and host an upscale event for your guests.

Thank you to Jill Crosby for sharing this information with us and our renters!

Thank you to Jill Crosby for sharing this information with us and our renters!

So what are your biggest questions when it comes to catering?

Add your questions below!