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What’s the average cost of a Catering Service?

Average Price

How much will I pay for a Catering service?

Need a catering service for your next party or corporate event but unsure how much it’ll set you back? 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 do Caterers do? 

A catering team is responsible for the preparation, delivery and display of food at events. They will prepare your food off-site and transport it to your 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 your requirements and type of event. If your event is more casual, then a more cost-effective option is to hire mobile caterers who will prepare the food and leave it with you to serve.

What’s the average cost of a Caterer? 

It’s impossible to say just how much a catering service will cost as events come in all shapes and sizes, but we’ve done a bit of research and put together a breakdown of average costs based on prices across Canada: 

Average cost (in total) $2,650
Minimum cost (in total) $300
Maximum cost (in total) $5,000

For weddings, the average figure is closer to $5,000.

Factors impacting costs

The key factors influencing the cost of hiring a catering service are given below: 

  • Number of guests

  • Event type

  • Meal type

  • Price per head

  • Location

Number of guests

A catering company can prepare cuisine fit for anything from a casual office lunch break to an international conference with thousands of attendees. You’ll need to know how many guests will be attending before your catering company can provide a quote - which is why RSVPs are so crucial! 

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. Buffets tend to be the go-to option for casual or networking events as they offer convenience and flexibility. 

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 a basic spread or whether your guests need to be fed for the entire day. 

Sit-down meals, such as at weddings, sit at the higher end of the pricing scale due to the level of preparation and organization required. Let’s look at a breakdown of different catering costs: 

Type of cateringHighest average price Lowest average price
Sit-down meal$5,000$2,000
All-day events (several courses)$5,000$1,800

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. Remember to make sure there will be plenty of room for your guests to move around the buffet stations if you go for this option! 

Sit-down meals

On 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 (several courses)

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 lighter bites in the evening. It will differ depending on the event but keep in mind your guests will likely want to eat every four hours or so. 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

Price per head is the most common type of pricing structure for catering services. As the name suggests, this breaks down the cost per person. It’s also handy because it ensures no one will go hungry! 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 are required.

Meal typeAverage price per head
Cold buffet$17
Hot buffet$25
Business breakfast$30
3-course meal$50
Evening grill$60


Another cost factor will be where you and the caterer are based. 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. Any travel costs will be included, especially if the caterers you choose are not local to the venue. 

If you’re on a budget then a cold buffet is significantly cheaper compared with a sit-down meal. 

Here’s a rough idea of how much you’ll pay per head in two major Canadian cities: 

LocationMaximum cost (per head)Minimum cost (per head)Average cost (per head)
Vancouver$25$10 $17.50

Hiring a Caterer - 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. 

Caterers are also well versed in hygiene practices not to mention how to best display your food so that it looks as appetizing as possible. If you want your event to run smoothly then hiring a caterer will ensure your day is stress-free. 

If you require a delicious spread that will wow your guests then look no further than a professional caterer. Price-wise, you can tailor your budget depending on whether you’d rather serve cold buffet food which will be cheaper or a hot 3-course meal which is more expensive. 

Ensure your event runs smoothly - find a reliable Catering Company on Bark. 

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