When paying someone else to serve food at an event or party, you’re not just buying what’s on the plate. Prices usually include cutlery, delivery, extra services, and more. As a result, most organizers end up saving significantly more money than they realize by hiring outside help. Having said that, staying careful and proactive when it comes to budgeting is important. We understand that - and on this page, we’ll offer some useful suggestions that may help you in figuring out catering costs per person. We’ll start with a short list of layout options. Buffet vs. Serving Stations vs. Plated Meals A buffet is a single table where guests can get all their food. Getting one tends to cost less than the other two options - and saves a lot of money on the total waiter fee by minimizing how much work is required. Buffets are standard options at most events, and a single table services up to several hundred guests. Serving stations are similar to buffets, but with multiple tables that are sometimes staffed by the caterer you hired. Pricing for a set-up like this may be somewhat higher, but if you’re dealing with a high-volume event like an outdoor barbecue, serving stations leave more walk-around space for everyone, making them worth their fee. Last but not least are plated meals. These are more formal, best suited for banquets; galas; company events. The average charge is higher for this option, but it’s a standard expected at many occasions - including weddings. One situation where these are not an optimal choice is a full-day event, where guests might prefer to eat as they please. How Much Should You Pay? There are no hard and fast answers to this question. The fee due to your caterer is wholly dependent on the nature of an event being organized as well as several other factors. Having said that, here’s a list with some average costs for your information: Corporate Events - all-day seminars and similar events cost £50-£100 per head, per day. This includes standard breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Weddings - wedding prices can vary from £50-£250+ per person. Dinners - expect each guest to cost about £30-60 assuming no alcohol. Kids’ birthdays - typical charges are in between £20-£60 per child. Outdoor events - food and service fees for catering outside a building fall somewhere between £70-£200+. Of course, these are just ballpark figures. If you a better idea, ask your catering company for a general idea of pricing for events like yours - both per person and in full. This is the surest way to get an accurate idea of possible costs. How Long Will Your Event Be? The average long event costs much more than short ones. The reason is that service prices are almost always high, especially for formal events. The more man-hours are required from your caterer, the higher the fee they’ll leave at the event’s end. Full days can get very expensive. In the event that someone is available to help at little cost, or for free - great. You may be able to save money by finding a temp agency that has a smaller charge for qualified waiters, for example. Other Ways to Save One strategy that can help save money is outsourcing extra services, like visual decorations and show elements (e.g. ice sculptures). The average caterer gets these from other companies anyway - and with a little bit of legwork, you can find much smaller fees by looking around on your own. Another useful tip is making a list of suitable providers rather than picking one immediately. This way, you can look for the best price and avoid exorbitant charges. Another way to save on some events is choosing drop-off options that just give you food without including service. If you want to really save, you can even host an outside event and do most of the cooking yourself. Most providers charge significantly less for uncooked food for obvious reasons. What Should You Not Save On? With all of the above in mind, there are some fees you should just accept. For starters, accept whatever your caterer charges as their basic margin. Second, don’t look to save too much on seasonal, local produce. Third, don’t go for lower quality dairy, meat and fish products. Your guests will notice - so opt for less food or fewer options instead. --- Now you know how much to budget for your next event’s catering. If you’d like to learn more, visit our website - catery.co.uk - where we share more tips and insights into catering.