In Catering Tips, Catering Trends

Do you have a big event coming up? Then you’re likely considering getting the event catered.

At any event, be it a wedding or a seasonal event for kids, food ties everything together by keeping everyone energized and keeping their tummies full!

Handling the food on your own can be overwhelming, especially when you’re expecting a huge number of people. Instead, you can just hire a good catering company to handle the food for you, from preparing the food to setting up the buffet tables.

But you might have one big question on your mind—how much does catering cost? The answer isn’t so straightforward since how expensive catering is depends on a host of factors. So let’s take a look at how much catering would cost you and some other questions you may have about catering.

To answer the question, “How much does catering cost?”, you’ll need to look at a few factors:

1. The Service Style

Catering entails more than just preparing food for your event—there are many other services involved in catering that can directly affect the final price. Here are some service levels and styles that can impact the cost:

Drop Off

If you’re worried about your budget, this might be the best choice for you. The caterer will prepare the food and drop it off at the event venue but they won’t do anything else. From here, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to serve the food and so on. You’ll also need to handle the clean-up afterward and if the food came in any rented vessels, you’ll need to return them to the caterer later.


Hands down, buffets are true crowd-pleasers and probably one of the best ways to serve food at an event. Buffets let your guests enjoy a big selection of food and they can treat themselves to as much food as they want. But buffets can be costly depending on how many dishes you ask your caterer to supply. However, the caterer will handle setting up the buffet and cleaning up afterward—this can also impact the final price.

A Plated Service

This is a more elegant catering service style that can work well for more elegant and high-class events. In this case, there will be catering staff who will serve each guest individually. This service style might be on the more expensive side because there’s additional labor involved.

Full Service

This is the most expensive service style but also the most convenient. The caterers will do everything including preparing the food, bringing it to the venue, setting up the buffet tables, serving guests refreshments and appetizers, and cleaning up after the event is over.

2. The Selection of Your Menu

Next to the service style, the next major factor that affects the total price of catering is the menu. Here’s how your menu selection can affect the price:

Cuisine Type

Complicated dishes with very specific ingredients can be expensive. Also, exotic or ethnic cuisine may be priced higher as the ingredients are harder to source and such cuisine needs to be prepared by a very skilled chef with extensive knowledge about these particular dishes.

Dietary Restrictions

If some of your guests have particular dietary restrictions, you may need to order additional dishes that meet their preferences. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu items may sometimes require extra ingredients to be prepared and this can impact the cost.


For seasonal events, you might want to order a menu with lots of seasonal dishes. However, seasonal menus can be a bit pricey since some of the dishes might require ingredients that are only available during a specific time of the year.

Guest Count

Naturally, the more people you invite for the event, the more food you’ll need to order—this can increase the price of catering. So make sure to be very thorough with your guest count; otherwise, you might need to make last-minute changes to the amount of food you need and some caterers may charge you for this.


Where your venue is matters a lot. If the venue is far from the caterer’s base of operations, they may charge you extra for the distance they had to travel to get there. To avoid this kind of problem, you might want to look for a caterer closer to your venue.


If you’re asking for full-service catering, you’ll need to consider how many catering staff you’re going to need. For a large event with many guests, you’ll need many catering staff members as well, especially if you choose a plated service. The more staff you need, the higher the cost of catering.


If you need tables, chairs, and other dishes, the caterer can provide you with them. This won’t be for free and the caterer will most likely charge you for renting the event equipment.

3. What are some questions to ask your caterer?

It’s important to ask your caterer many comprehensive questions before booking them. Here are some questions you should consider asking them aside from “How much does catering cost?”:

  • What catering styles do you provide?
  • Can I change the menu based on my preferences and budget?
  • Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?
  • Will you charge extra for seasonal dishes?
  • What happens to the leftovers? Can I take them home?
  • Can I have a breakdown of the total cost of catering?
  • Are there any additional fees?
  • Do you offer tastings?
  • What are my payment options?
  • What is your cancellation policy?

Asking these questions can help you determine if the caterer is right for you, has what you’re looking for, and will also let you get an idea of their level of professionalism.

4. How can you build a good rapport with your caterer?

You and your caterer will need to work together to make your event a huge success, so it’s important to build a good relationship with them. Here’s how you can establish a good rapport with your caterer:

Communicate Clearly

Be honest about your budget and give the caterer an accurate guest count. Also, be clear with them about specific dietary restrictions and what catering services you need.

Stay Open to Ideas

Let the caterer offer you suggestions on the menu and tell you what catering styles they believe are best for your event. Caterers have years of experience and can help you decide.

Make Timely Decisions

Ensure you fill the caterer in on all the important details, like the guest count and the menu requirements, as early as possible. Don’t keep any information to yourself until the last minute.

Be Respectful

Always be polite and respectful towards the catering staff. This will encourage a positive relationship and will make the caterer want to work with you again should you require their services in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a handful of commonly asked questions about the average cost of catering services:

How much time will the catering staff take to set things up?

This comes down to the service style you requested, the layout of the venue, and the menu you picked. Make sure to note down how long set up will take before choosing a time for guests to arrive.

Is there a minimum order amount?

Some caterers may impose a minimum ordering amount, especially for high-end food items. Make sure to ask your caterer about this upfront.

Will caterers charge for tastings?

Yes, in most cases, caterers may charge you for tastings. In addition, the cost may increase depending on how many people will be attending the tastings.

How much does catering cost? Speak to a caterer today

The cost of catering can be tricky to determine, but you can always speak to a caterer for help. They’ll help you understand the costs involved and may even help you find catering menu packages and catering service styles that fit your budget.

Start hunting for a great caterer in Pittsburgh today—good luck!

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Cooked Goose Catering Company 7851 Steubenville Pike
Oakdale, PA 15071

Event Catering: 412-258-5944
Goose Express: 724-695-2322

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