Planning an event is often stressful, especially if food service is involved. There are many things that can go wrong during menu selection, cooking, serving, and clean up. Even if you are capable of catering your event yourself, you may not want the stress. Doing so might prevent you from enjoying the party and mingling with your guests. That is why many types of events are much more fun when they are professionally catered. Among those event types are corporate parties and weddings.
You might not realize it, but there are many types of events for which you can hire a caterer. Learning about your catering options may help you take pressure off your shoulders in a wide variety of situations. To hire a caterer near you, you must understand the different types of catering and how much you can expect to pay for each type of catering service. More information on those services and costs is provided below.
Wedding catering is a huge part of the catering industry, despite COVID-19 pandemic-related setbacks in 2020 and 2021. Wedding catering includes more than simply providing food and beverages. Most catering services also offer wedding catering packages. Those packages may include providing tables and chairs, assigning waitstaff to the event, and providing extra services, such as cake cutting. Each caterer offers different services, but custom options are often provided based on the needs of each client.
According to 2019 data provided by the popular wedding publication Brides, the average cost of food and beverage services combined for a wedding was approximately $7,000. However, wedding catering costs vary widely in different parts of the United States. Costs may also increase or decrease based on factors like:
Number of Guests
Style of Service (Sit-Down Versus Buffet)
On-Site Versus Caterer-Provided Kitchen Appliances
Variety and Types of Foods Served
Special Requirements (Gluten-Free Meal Options, Cake Cutting Etc.)
Corporate catering is the process of providing on-site food for company employees. That might take place on a daily basis or only for a special purpose, such as a company holiday party or during a training period. There are several reasons corporate catering is good for business. It is a time saver because employees do not have to leave to get food. Providing on-site catering on a regular basis is also a good way to boost employee morale and encourage friendly relations between staff members. Additionally, it can help attract new employees.
The average cost of corporate catering in the U.S. is around $70 per person, but it can reach or surpass $200 per person for certain large events. Like wedding catering, there are many factors that determine the actual cost of each individual corporate catered event. For example, buffet-style catering is often less expensive than individual meal selection. Other cost-determining factors include but are not limited to:
Size and Popularity of the Catering Company
Hiring a Catering Service Versus Asking a Restaurant to Cater
Inclusion of Extra Services (On-Site Ordering, Cooking, or Serving Etc.)
Corporate catering costs are also affected by issues like ordering frequency. For instance, a catering company may offer a discount for corporate lunch catering every Friday. Similarly, catering costs can increase when the caterer is also asked to provide the event venue, such as when employee training is held off-site. To get the best corporate catering deal possible, ask local caterers about their various corporate catering packages and if any discounts are available for long-term, multiple-event catering.
Party and General Event Catering
Catering is an excellent option for almost any type of party or special event. Setting up food and beverage services in advance allows the host to fully immerse themselves in and enjoy the party. Types of events and parties that can benefit from catering services include:
On average, event catering costs as little as $25 per person for casual dining to $145 per person for formal service, as of 2021. However, as with any other type of catering, geographic location matters. For example, a catered event in a large city like Los Angeles, California or Chicago, Illinois is likely to cost much more than a catered event in a small town. The menu selected, special requests, and other services provided also influence the total cost of such an event. For example, a caterer might offer to supply balloons or other party favors for an extra fee.
Concession and Food Truck-Based Catering
Another major catering category is concession and food truck catering, which most often takes place in the summer or in perpetually warm regions, such as Florida. Concession catering is typically used for large, often outdoor events, such as concerts, flea markets, or sporting events. According to FoodTruckBooking.com, food truck catering typically starts at $500 per truck. Expect to pay more for large events requiring multiple trucks.
How to Find a Local Caterer
When looking for a reliable local caterer, start by asking for recommendations from friends, family members, or other local business owners. You can also use online tools to find caterers in your area. Some of those tools provide general catering information. Others offer quick access to specific types of catering, such as a list of wedding caterers. If you are looking for casual catering like daily corporate lunches, check local restaurants to see if they offer catering packages. You can also check local event venues, which may offer in-house catering services.
Selecting the Right Caterer for Your Event
Ultimately, choosing a caterer for your event requires you to examine your needs, desires, and budget. You must choose a caterer capable of supplying the services you need at the price you want to pay. The caterer must also be available on the date of your catered event. Beyond those basics, you can select the right caterer by also considering such aspects as experience level, extras offered, special event packages offered, number of employees, and the scope of food and beverage choices available. Finally, make sure your chosen caterer is willing to sign a contract outlining the services to be provided, fees, and cancellation policy to make sure your catered event is a stress-free success.