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What is the cost of Catering?

Average Price

How much will I pay for a Catering Service?

Need to hire a catering service for an upcoming event but unsure of the cost? Read our handy guide to find out how much your caterers will charge depending on the size of your event and the type of cuisine you wish to serve.

What does a Catering Service provide?

A catering service handles the preparation, delivery and display of food at events. Caterers will often prepare the food off-site and transport it to the venue. 

Caterers plan every aspect of the cuisine from sourcing the ingredients to ensuring there is enough food to feed everyone depending on the number of guests and the length of the event. It is a job that involves planning, logistics and of course, the ability to create delicious food that will entertain your guests. 

Some caterers will also serve the food depending on how formal you want the event to be. If you’re on a budget, it’s also possible to hire mobile caterers that will prepare the food and leave it with you to serve.

What is the average price of a Catering Service? 

The cost of catering can vary widely depending on the service you need and the number of guests, but we’ve done a bit of research and calculated the average cost based on local Australian professionals: 

Average cost of Catering
Average cost (in total)$5,200
Minimum cost (in total) $500
Maximum cost (in total) $9,900

For weddings, the average figure is closer to $8,000

Factors influencing cost: 

The overall cost of a catering service will vary depending on: 

  • Number of guests

  • Event type

  • Meal type

  • Price per head

  • Location

Number of guests

Caterers can provide food for everything from your office lunch break to a large conference with thousands of attendees. Make sure to give your caterer an idea of numbers well in advance so that you can get an accurate quote.

Event type

Are you looking for your guests to mingle and move around the venue, or will they be mostly seated? Events that have structured timings (such as weddings or awards ceremonies) work best with sit-down meals that can be timed to perfection. If you’re hosting a casual or networking occasion then a buffet is an ideal option as it offers flexibility and keeps things inexpensive. 

The event type should also take into consideration the cuisine itself. It’s important to ensure that the food is appropriate for the event. When in doubt, a basic spread that has plenty of options for those with any dietary issues is always a safe bet. If you want specialist foods served (such as oysters, lobsters etc) then this will increase the price of your catering bill. 

Meal type 

From basic finger food to the finest caviar, the cost of catering very much depends on the type of cuisine you are looking to serve and to how many guests. What also will affect the cost is if it’s one meal sitting, or whether your guests need to be fed for the entire day. 

Seated meals at weddings are usually the most expensive form of catering as they require the most planning, organisation and effort from the caterers’ side. Here is a rough estimate of how much you’ll pay depending on the type of meal: 

Type of cateringHighest average price (per head) Lowest average price
Sit down meal$7,500$2,500
All-day events (several courses)$9,900$3,000


The main decision you have to make is whether your event would best suit a buffet or a meal served at a table. Usually, buffets tend to be cheaper with some of the lowest prices per head. However, they do require plenty of venue space to display food. Plus, there needs to be room for your guests to move around each station too.

Sit down meal

With formal occasions sit down meals are usually the order of the day. However, the challenge with sit down meals is choosing a menu in advance that works for all tastes and dietary requirements, as there is not as much choice as you’d find with a buffet. Sit down meals are typically more expensive, especially for weddings, but add a touch of luxury to the occasion. 

All-day events

All-day events may require a greater level of catering and expense. For example, breakfast in the morning, a main meal in the afternoon and then a grill in the evening. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to feed your guests every four hours, but the frequency of meals served will differ depending on the event. Weddings usually have some light food put on in the evenings or a topped up buffet following the main meal in the afternoon. 

Price per head

The most common pricing structure a caterer will use is the price per head. As the name suggests, this breaks down the cost per person. It’s also handy because it will ensure you have enough food for everyone. The price per head will take into account the length of the event. Longer events will incur a higher cost because more food and labour is required.

The price will also depend on whether you want to serve hot or cold food. A hot buffet requires the catering crew to stay on-site which is more expensive. If you’re looking to keep costs to a minimum, a cold buffet is the best way to go. 

Meal typeAverage price per head
Cold buffet$16
Hot buffet$30
Business breakfast$40
3-course meal$75
Evening grill$80


The location of your event will affect the cost in two ways. Firstly, where you are based will impact the price of ingredients and labour. Secondly, any travel costs will be included, especially if the caterers you choose are not local to the venue. 

If you live in a big city like Sydney or Melbourne then prepare to pay more than in smaller cities to reflect the higher cost of living. 

Catering - is it worth the cost? 

Whether it’s a corporate function or a family celebration, putting on an event takes a lot of work and planning. Taking responsibility for feeding your guests for a day is a tall order. 

A professional caterer on the other hand will have everything under control. They will be able to best advise you about the type of dishes that would work best for your event. Plus the amount of food required for the number of guests you need to feed. 

You also don’t have to worry about cross-contamination with a caterer as they’ll have completed courses on best hygiene practices. They’re also experienced in how to best display your food so that it looks as appetising as possible. If you want to ensure your guests aren’t left hungry then hiring a caterer is highly advisable. 

Find a Caterer on Bark for a delicious spread that will wow your guests at your next event. 

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