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Find a wedding caterer near Bay Area, CA

Find a wedding caterer near Bay Area, CA

37 near you

Find a wedding caterer near Bay Area, CA

37 near you

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Top 10 Wedding Caterers near Bay Area, CA

Wedding Caterers Cost Guide

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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do you find a good caterer?

Reviews, interviews and menu tastings will help you find the right catering choice for your big day. Start by screening possible wedding caterers based on past reviews. If a caterer you are interested in has a review that concerns you, ask them about it; how they respond will be very telling. Next, ask about their availability for your wedding date.

If the wedding caterer is available on your date, it’s time to talk about menus and prices. Be clear about what your maximum budget is find out what choices this will allow you. Caterers may custom-create a menu for your event, or they may have menu templates within different price ranges that can guide your decision. A clear budget gives the caterer clear parameters within which to work and offer creative suggestions. Schedule a menu tasting to confirm you love your wedding menu. Once you have a menu and date, and have paid a deposit to reserve the caterer’s services, confirm additional details including when the food will be delivered to the site, what kind of service will be provided, how many servers will be onsite and for how long, and who is responsible for setup and cleanup. The more specific your contract, the fewer worries you’ll have on your wedding day. Get more smart hiring tips here.

Do you tip a wedding caterer?

Tipping 15 percent to 20 percent on a $3,000 catering bill can feel daunting — especially in light of all the other costs of throwing a wedding — but tipping your wedding caterer is standard practice. Be sure to ask your caterer about their specific policies. Many catering companies include gratuity as a line item on their bill. If tipping is not automatically included in your total, a good approach is to tip all the people involved the day of the event rather than paying one lump sum to the catering company. For each server and bartender, you can tip $20-$50, depending on how long they were onsite and whether they did exceptional work. You can also tip the chef; experts suggest $50. It’s also a good idea to tip the catering manager, the point-of-contact person who keeps the catering service running smoothly the day of your wedding, ensures all the food looks beautiful and is plentiful, and resolves any mishaps. Industry pros recommend tipping the catering manager $100-$200. If gratuity is not included and you’re tipping individuals, set aside $200-$500 in cash to be safe.

How much does wedding catering cost per person?

Wedding catering costs will always vary based on the number of guests you’re inviting, the menu you want to serve, and the way the food will be served to your guests. As you interview wedding catering companies, you’ll be presented with a cost per person for various menus. On the low end, wedding catering may cost approximately $15-$18 per person. This would include prepared food only, with no setup or service of any kind. The starting price for a simple buffet meal with minimal service typically averages $22 per person. Opting for the same menu with all organic ingredients could raise your costs to about $33 per person. A moderately upscale menu (finer ingredients, more elaborate presentation) could range from $24 to $34 per person. High-end wedding catering cost truly has no limit. Lobster, filet mignon, specialty seafood, organic ingredients — menu choices like these can boost your cost per person up to $150 and more.

How much should catering cost per person?

Catering prices can range from about $10 per guest on the low end to $150 or more per person on the high end. Catering costs represent the quality of food, presentation, variety, ingredients and service. But catering prices are more than the cost to cook the food that will be at your party; they also include the cost for the company to do business. Here is a simple breakdown of catering prices:

  • Menu: The food you serve your guests will directly affect the price per person. Organic ingredients, complex recipes, elaborate presentations, or high-ticket items like lobster or filet mignon all add to the cost.
  • Service: Buffet, family style, plated dinners — how you serve the food affects the cost per person. For example, a true plated meal can cost about twice the price of a staff-assisted buffet because of staffing costs. Hiring waiters, bartenders and cleanup crew will all be calculated into the per-person catering price.
  • Drinks: Providing beverages and alcoholic drinks for guests greatly increases your catering budget. Hosting an open bar can cost as much per person as the meal.
  • Rentals: Seating, plates, glassware, etc., will all have an effect on the cost per person for catering. For example, a plastic conference table that seats 10 costs about $6 to rent on average, while a wooden farmhouse table is about $80 to rent on average.
  • Business costs: Any catering cost will also include the cost for the company to do business such as insurance, employee wages, commercial kitchen space and more.

How do you serve food at a wedding?

Food service at your wedding will affect your catering costs and influence the atmosphere of the reception. Buffet style is more informal; plated meals are a bit fancier; family style encourages sharing. Read about the different food service styles to select your preferred wedding catering choice.

  • Buffet: Caterers can drop off prepared foods for a DIY and budget-friendly buffet option where you set everything up and food is entirely self-service. For a fuller-service buffet, the caterers set up food, oversee the buffet throughout the event, and clean up afterwards. For food only, prices per person might average $16-$18, while a service buffet may start around $20-$22 per person. Adding food stations can increase per-person costs by at least $3-$5.
  • Family style: Servers bring large platters of food to guest tables in courses. It’s less formal (and less expensive) than a plated meal, but more formal and higher-cost than a buffet. You’ll need large tables to accommodate the platters, so plan accordingly when renting furniture for the event.
  • Plated: A plated event is a formal dining experience; waitstaff serve your seated guests for each course, fill their drinks, and attend to them throughout the dinner. A plated dinner is typically the most expensive option for both food and service.
  • Food trucks: Similar to buffets, with food trucks your guests get their own food and bring it to their table. A food truck gives a relaxed and playful vibe to your reception.
  • Cocktail reception: If you don’t want a formal seated dinner, you can opt for a wide assortment of passed appetizers at an extended cocktail hour reception.

How much should catering cost for a wedding?

The cost of wedding catering will reflect the level of service, the menu you choose, the luxury you desire and the number of guests you invite. Where you live also plays a major role in your wedding catering costs. The regional cost to do business and local cost of food will affect your catering bill. There is no set price for wedding catering, because each wedding and each menu is different. This is why many caterers provide a per-person price. This allows you to break down what it costs to feed each person based on the menu you want. Working with your caterer, you can adjust menu items, service level and more to accommodate your budget and guest count. Keep in mind that wedding catering costs are not just for the food. The bill reflects all the components that go into commercial food catering: a commercial kitchen, ingredients, staff, insurance, marketing and more. Here are some examples of average costs:

  • Three-course plated meal, moderately upscale, for 125 in Los Angeles: $14,000. Because of staffing costs, a true plated meal costs about twice as much as a staff-assisted buffet.
  • Buffet meal, standard menu, for 100 in Los Angeles: $5,000.
  • Per-person cost for hors d'oeuvres, dinner and nonalcoholic beverages: $24–$37, depending on menu selection, in Southern California.
  • Drop off prepared food for 50: $1,000 in North Carolina. Price does not include any service, setup or breakdown.

What should you look for in a caterer?

A delicious meal is a critical element of a successful wedding, with happy guests fondly remembering your fabulous wedding food. The right caterer for you will be:

  • Available: Even the best caterer is no good if they aren’t available on your wedding date. Ask early before you get your heart set on someone.
  • Affordable for you: Find a caterer that you can afford. Having a spending plan ahead of time will mean you won’t overspend on food.
  • A good personality fit: Wedding planning is stressful, so work with someone that you can get along with and communicate with easily.
  • Experienced and recommended: Ensure the company has a proven track record with events of your size and the references to back it up.
  • Transparent about money: Steer clear of shady pricing. Find a caterer who is very clear about costs and is happy to talk you through budgets and pricing options.
  • Transparent about food: Find someone who is clear about where they source their food from and where it is prepared.

How much does it cost to hire a caterer?

Catering prices depend mainly on how fancy you want the food and service to be and how many guests you’ll have. When you’re first looking to hire a caterer for your event, consider how many guests you’ll have and your total food and drink budget. The national average for event catering is $340, but catering prices can range into the thousands depending on your menu, guest count, and service.

Event catering is a broad term that covers everything from fully prepared, ready-to-eat food that the hosts plate and serve themselves to full-service, multicourse meals, including rental of linens, glassware and other items, with service staff organized by the catering company. Usually a caterer will determine cost based on the type of event you’re having, how many guests will attend, the level of service you desire, and what type of menu you’d like to have. For example, if you have a set catering budget, say $1,500, and you plan to have 50 people attend, that means you have $30 per person for food. If you have the same budget with 100 people, you have $15 per person for food. In this way, the number of people you want to attend your event and the level of food you want to serve them determines how much catering will cost.

Reviews for Bay Area wedding caterers
Erin S.
Rose catered my wedding reception. Like most brides, I didn't get a chance to eat much of the food, but I do recall the coconut bisque being delicious. We got the "appetizer abundance" option, and it was a lovely variety. Desserts (chocolate mousse and apple crisp) were also high points. The spread looked great, and Rose and her staff were all very friendly and professional. They worked with my wedding planner to make everything seamless.
Rose Johnson CateringRose Johnson Catering
Thumbtack Customer
Rose was amazing! She promptly respnded to all my emails and communicated flawlessly. She provided all the staff needed for our wedding and customized our menu for our dietary restrictions. We met with many caterers and she was the best value and most friendly. All of the staff working with her were very friendly and professional. The food was amazing. Evertthing was cooked to perfection, looked beautiful and tasted delicious. I don't think it could have gone any better and I highly reccomend her for any occassion! Thanks again Rose!!!!!
Rose Johnson CateringRose Johnson Catering
Thumbtack Customer
Stephanie is absolutely fantastic. She catered an intimate wedding celebration for us and it could not have been better. She is very responsive and easy to work with- she proposed a beautiful menu that she kindly modified as needed to suit dietary preferences. In addition to traveling to us for the actual wedding day, she made a trip out to our venue to see the kitchen and speak with the event coordinator at their request. Day of, she came totally prepared and made fantastic food. She also served the meal and the drinks- her service was well paced and everything was beautifully presented. I cannot say enough good things about Stephanie. Not only is her food, service, and presentation fantastic, she herself is an absolute gem. She is incredibly professional, but also warm and kind. To any bride considering her, I highly, highly recommend her! Working with her was such a joy and she went so far above and beyond to make our day special. Thank you, Stephanie!
Bouquet CateringBouquet Catering
Lauren T.
Pete and his staff were absolutely wonderful to work with. They catered our 100-person wedding, and we are still receiving compliments on the amazing food--many people told us it was the best they'd ever had at a wedding. One of my clearest memories of the night was when the groom brought me a plate, and I first bit into the food Pete made--it was the first moment of quiet I got, and I was blown away with every bite, while the 2-year-old ring bearer sat beside me eating the perfectly seasoned fish with his hands. Pete's staff helped us with setup and breakdown as part of their package, and they went out of their way to be kind, courteous, extremely professional, and helpful. They reduced the stress of our wedding by about 80%, and they made it so lovely and enjoyable. After the ceremony, the bartender (part of Pete's staff), even ran out to an adjacent meadow to check on us and bring us drinks while the groom and I had our portraits taken. When it came time to cut the cake, I forgot to bring a cake server, and without hesitation, Pete handed over his very expensive Miyabi chef's knife to me. Those little details were really special to us. Our wedding was a week ago, and my mother is still talking about how helpful and kind Pete's staff was. We will never forget how wonderful everything was, and we absolutely recommend Chef Pete and his staff to anyone who wants excellence and consummate professionalism at their event. I would hire them again in a heartbeat.
Chef Pete ColemanChef Pete Coleman
Thumbtack Customer
I cannot begin to express how surprised I am to have to be giving Lindsey Penland such a horrible review, but I assure you it is necessary. I have also filed a complaint against her with the Better Business Bureau. To summarize: I hired Lindsey through Thumbtack to cater a 40 person brunch the day after my wedding in October 2016. I was so excited because she had such great reviews and the pictures of her food were lovely. We had several back and forths developing the menu and she established a rate of $20/person - which I though was very reasonable since we did not want anything too fancy. This was the menu we established: Eggs and Bacon Bagel bar with lox, capers, red onions, and flavored cream cheese Yogurt fruit and granola bar Mini waffles with multiple toppings Fall fruit salad with roasted walnuts and spiced honey Jumbo shrimp cocktails Mimosa bar Pastry basket Coffee and tea bar Here is what we actually got: Eggs and Bacon - I would say she brought enough of these for 5-7 people. Literally an half a pan of eggs (single layer) and a small thing of bacon - for 40 people! Lenders bagels (NO JOKE!) + She then delivered 3 tubs of no-name cream cheese and lox an hour into our 2 hour brunch - so none of my guests had. Yogurt fruit and granola bar - this was okay - although the yogurt was presented as slop, but it was technically yogurt. Mini waffles with multiple toppings - the multiple toppings were jars of Duncan Hanes cherries and blueberries (yuck!) and she brought a quart of whipping cream in liquid format. Fall fruit salad with roasted walnuts and spiced honey - this was okay Jumbo shrimp cocktails - these were served with the entire shell on - so my guests were scraping the shells off as best the could with their fingers. Mimosa bar - I had made it very clear the only mixer we needed was Fresh Squeezed (from whole foods) Orange juice. By email she was happy to oblige. She showed up with from concentrate orange juice and a huge variety of canned juices. I supplied the champagne. Pastry basket - she literally I think went to Walmart and got us several flats of pastries. They were stale, and really just garbage quality. There were sugared donuts and scone-like things - just really unappetizing. Coffee and tea bar - she showed up with ground coffee and was astonished I did not have an industrial sized coffee maker. she also brought 2 boxes of celestial herbal tea. My brothers went out and bought coffee for the event. LATE ARRIVAL In addition to the food being beyond LOW QUALITY, Lindsey and her helper arrived a full 1.5 hours late to a time she had set. They arrived at 9:30 am for a 10 am brunch. She had indicated she definitely wanted to and would arrive at 8 am to have sufficient time to set up. Our guests were literally lined up outside our apartment when we let them in at 10:20 to the brunch Lindsey threw together. I filled a formal complaint with Lindsey, and asked for half our money back for the poor service she provided. Her only solution was to have one of her "Chefs" cook us dinner in our home - which I have absolutely no interest in. She has since not responded to my follow up email. I have thought a lot about what happened, and it seems like she either completely forgot about our event until the morning of or maybe she was on a bender and thought she could whip it together last minute. Needless to say, I was shocked and so disappointed by not only her food and her service, but how she handled my complaint. She told me that " Cooking is artistry and not everyone has identical taste" - I'm sorry but Lenders Bagels + Store bought pastries + and a couple of eggs and bacon is not artistry. I sincerely hope others do not experience these issues, but based on my experience the only suggestion I can offer is to steer clear of "Chef" Lindsey Penland and Envie Catering.
Envie CateringEnvie Catering
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