How much do event caterers cost?

The golden question, with a frustrating answer: It depends.

It mainly depends on how many guests you have, your location and the quality of the staff and food that your caterer will provide however, we’ve got some ball park figures for you to start out with.

Headline figures

Based on our research of local caterers, we found the following price ranges:

Canapés £5-£12 per guest

Starters £6-15 per guest

Main (served to tables) £15-40 per guest

Main (served buffet style) £10-30 per guest

Dessert £5-10 per guest

Cheese £4-10 per guest

Tea and Coffee £2-4 per guest

Evening Food £5-15 per guest

So you could be looking at anywhere between £5-£100 plus per head.

The best way to find out is simply to pick a caterer and find out their prices. A budgeting tip is to ask for a quote based your minimum number of guests so that you know what the maximum price per guest will be (prices will tend to go up per guest the fewer guests that you have).

I understand that as a group we don’t make it easy for you guys as a lot of us (The Wild Oven included) don’t put their prices up online. Despite popular belief, this isn’t because we wait to find out if it’s a wedding or a party and adjust the prices accordingly. Instead it’s because every event is individual and the price is effected by location and guest numbers. At the risk of someone coming back and saying, but why is it ‘x’ much more per guest when we’re only 20 miles down the road: here are some guide prices for when we’re around 20 miles and 40 minutes away.

Though we don’t have any hidden charges, some people may not include the VAT or the hire of kitchen equipment so watch out for these!

Factors that will effect how much your caterers cost:

1. Guest numbers

An outside caterer has to bring their kitchen to you. Therefore there are certain fixed costs that will be incurred whether you’re looking to cater for 10 or 100 people. Therefore, as a general rule of thumb, the more guests you have the lower your costs per head.

2. Location

It makes sense to look for local caterers. Firstly they will have fewer travelling costs, both when setting up their kitchen and for all their staff to travel to the site. Secondly, your food will have less far to travel.

3. Quality of Staff

More and more often I’m seeing hospitality businesses cottoning onto the fact that if you pay staff more then you’ll be able to attract and retain the best ones. With this loyalty comes knowledge and understanding. Caterers will be more expensive if they are having to pay their staff more, however the quality of the people serving food at your event will be higher.

4. Quality of food

It’s just like the difference between Aldi and Waitrose, if you’ve got the best people using the best products it’s going to cost more. If food isn’t your thing then this is where you can cut the cost and look for a caterer using low quality food.  However I strongly believe that there’s not a lot that’s more important than what you put in your body. First and foremost food is meant to nourish our bodies, as well as to be enjoyed!