Catering Series: Breakdown of Options

Wedding Planning Tips


Do you know where to start when it comes to choosing a caterer? Does your venue have any restrictions or recommendations?

A few steps to keep in mind while choosing a caterer – –

Step One: Know Your Caterers 

An in-house caterer: If your venue has one, you can count on a reliable pricing structure that includes everything — staffing, rentals, booze, and cake. (Expect to pay about $125 per person.) Bonus: Since the caterer has worked on site before, there will be fewer surprises, and the day should run smoothly.

A preferred caterer: Many venues without a kitchen staff (museums, historic buildings) have a list of preferred caterers, and using an off-list pick may carry a penalty of around $500. Upscale locations tend to prefer pricier vendors, but you can often negotiate.

Step Two: Decide How You Want the Food Served

Sit-down meal: Pros — a plated meal brings structure to the reception and makes it easy to curate a menu. Con — you’ll need a server for every 10 guests, which can get costly.

Buffet: Pros — self-service cuts your waitstaff in half compared with a seated meal, and there’s less lag time on the dance floor. Cons — if some dishes are more popular than others, you’ll end up with wasted food. Also, people don’t love standing in line for dinner.

Cocktail party: Pros — small plates and stations lets you serve inventive dishes you love, and skipping the seating chart makes your reception all about the dancing. Cons — a party longer than two hours can cost more than a sit-down dinner since the serves — you’ll need one per 25 guests — will be working for the whole party. Plus, you’ll pay for every passed tray. (You’ll want 12 to 14 hors d’oeuvres per guest.)

photographs by: Emily Elizabeth Studios