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Catering Costs and Variables

The cost of having an event can vary widely. The following guidelines should provide you with a good idea of what you can expect and help you in designing the vision for your event. While this page tries to breakdown all the factors, our Typical Catering Cost page tries to paint an overall picture of common events and their cost.

Time of Day - The time of day can play a significant role in the type of event you are planning. Your guests will typically expect different types and quantities of food depending on the time of day. We suggest the following as an example.

Lunch - 11am to 1pm

High Tea / Snacks - 2pm to 4pm

Dinner - 5pm to 7pm

Heavy Hors d'oeuvres - 5pm to 7pm

Light Hors d'oeuvres - 8pm +

Type of Event and Menu - The type of event can be the biggest determining factor in price, and also has the widest variability. Does the event require substantial service staff (i.e. a served dinner), medium staff (passed hors d'oeuvres), or light staff (a buffet)? Is the menu simple or complex? 

Start with the following as rough estimates as to what you can reasonably expect various types of menus (food) to cost.

Light Hors d'oeuvres $18 - $27 per person (3 or 4 hors d'oeuvres)

Heavy Hors d'oeuvres $28 - $42 per person (6 or 7 hors d'oeuvres)

Buffet Dinner $27 - $47per person (sample buffets)

Plated Dinner $33+ per person (sample dinner menus)

High Tea $20 - $33 per person (menu)

Simple BBQ $19+ per person (menu)

Box Lunch $20.45 per person (lunch menus)

(Staff and rentals are not included in these estimates as they may vary widely).

Rentals - Often people forget about the cost of rental items.  

Consider if your event can be done with paper and plastic or if you need glass and china. 

Do you need tables and chairs? Cloth Napkins? 

We will handle all the arrangements and you can expect the following prices for standard items.

Glass and China $9 to $16 per person

Table and Chairs with Linen $9 to $14 per person

Cloth Napkin $1 per person

Service Staff

The number and type of servers at your function depends upon the number of guests and the size of the facility. Most events, especially those with table side service, require service staff.  A table service dinner will typically require one service person for every 10 to 15 guests, with an average time of 8 hours per server, including set up, clean up and travel time. 

- A traditional buffet will need one service person per 15 to 22 guests, for as few as 4 hours, depending on the menu and location. For hors d'oeuvres stations you may need only one server per 20 guests. For weddings or extended events, the times may be longer. Additional service staff may be added to reduce service time with a higher ratio of servers to guests, and for on-site culinary staff if the menu requires it. There is no travel fee, however travel time is charged at the servers' hourly rate of $36 per hour per server. Cost may vary for culinary staff.

Location - Does the site you rent provide tables and chairs? Linens? Tents? Kitchen Facilities? Is there electricity? Running water? (Yes, we sometimes cater on yachts or in the great outdoors.)   Is there a flight stairs separating the kitchen from the dining room? All of these may affect your bottom line. 

Length of Event - A simple idea, which is sometimes overlooked:  How long do you expect the service staff to stay? How long will you need to rent a hall? Remember that in the time you set aside for the site rental you must include time for set up and clean up. Can the catering staff start clean up while your guests are still there? Will the site charge you more if you run over your time? For a traditional wedding reception you should expect 8 hours (2 hours for set up, 5 hours for guests, and 1 hour for clean up). If you plan to party into the night, that, of course will mean more time.

What kind of bar / beverages will you have? - Will your event have only soda and water, beer and wine, or a full bar? Will it need to be served? Full service or just signature cocktails? Since CC does not sell alcohol, you have the option to save quite bit of money by providing it yourself.  If you provide the beverages we can provide everything else for the bar from mixers to glassware.  

Time of Year / Indoor or Outdoor Will you need a tent to account for rain, wind or cold? Heaters? Lighting? We arrange for all of this along with your other rentals. The cost of these items can vary widely, but we can advise of this, your needs, weather expectation and such, during the planning process.