Wedding and Event Catering

Find a caterer near Palm Springs, CA

Find a caterer near Palm Springs, CA

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Top 10 Caterers near Palm Springs, CA

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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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.

Reviews for Palm Springs caterers
The food was stunning! Emily was so easy and accommodating, making sure all of our needs were met. I highly recommend her catering to ALL birthday's - my 30th was a HUGE success.
homegrown kitchenhomegrown kitchen
Valicia L.
Awesome Events by Jessica catered my 60th birthday dinner this past July. Jessica was accommodating & professional. And the food...OMG, cRaZy Delicious!!! Book her for your next event - You’ll be GLAD you did!
Awesome Events by JessicaAwesome Events by Jessica
Joanna H.
I am still craving the enchilladas and beans!!! I wish I could do it all over again and spend some time appreciating the goodness. Michael catered my wedding and it was perfection!!! Thank you Michael and crew for the care and deliciousness!
Thumbtack Customer
Absolutely the best catered affair that it could have been! Just met William through Thumbtack and he provided the most courteous, knowledgeable service we have ever had. The food was better than any restaurant we could have gone to and he was cleaned up and gone practically before we knew it. Excellent!
Private Chef William BloomhuffPrivate Chef William Bloomhuff
David S.
We threw a combined 35th anniversary and milestone birthdays party on Saturday. Every service provided by First Class Catering was flawless. Our guests raved about the food (we loved it) and the service was stellar. I can't say enough good things about them but will add that I highly recommend using this service for your next event.
Sandra S.
Great experience working with Awesome Events. Delicious food delivered ready to serve two nights and one night fully catered by a delightful staff who in addition to prepping dinner and setting the tables and doing dishes also made cocktails and gladly entertained our 5 grandkids who wanted to “help cook” 🙄. We will definitely use them again.
Awesome Events by JessicaAwesome Events by Jessica
Hayley N.
Chef Owen was very delightful to work with. He was very responsive and helpful during the inquiry process, and he made the experience overall pretty stress free. He catered our private dinner for 15 people with and was very professional by coming early to scope out the venue and setting up without any help. He was punctual, and the food was very good. Not to mention, the portion sizes were very generous. I would definitely recommend Chef Owen for your next event.
Cartwright & Co. CaterersCartwright & Co. Caterers
Jillian C.
I retained the services of Jessica and her team for my 32nd birthday celebration at a house that I rented in Palm Springs for myself, my parents and a few friends! We wanted to have a catered lunch and bar tender for our “pool day” on a Saturday afternoon. Jessica helped me with menu planning and provided a chef, chef’s assistant and bar tender to make it all come to life! The food was incredible and the staff was fantastic (wouldn’t let us lift a finger)! It really felt like we were at a hotel pool with how accommodating everyone was! Jessica and her team truly helped to elevate my birthday celebration to another level that myself and my guests won’t soon forget (everyone is still raving about it!). It was a please working with Jessica and I would highly recommend her as well as her team for any special events! Xx
Awesome Events by JessicaAwesome Events by Jessica
Nikki A.
We booked Chris and his team for our wedding. We had a 3 course plated dinner. The food was one of the highlights of the day. The food was hot, perfectly cooked, fresh, flavorful, and delicious. Everything was so good it was unbelievable and nearly all of our guests commented on how blown away they were. He managed to set up and create gourmet food to our venue. I’ve never experienced such elevated and good food at a wedding. All my veg friends were also raving about their meal. His staff absolutely killed it - they were so helpful and lovely. One staff member went above and beyond and noticed our toddler was restless and got her a little plate of snacks and it was just what she needed. I can’t express enough good things or how absolutely blown away we were for Chris and his team delivering like that. You need to book his catering at your wedding.
Chris Brugler CateringChris Brugler Catering
James O.
Chef William responded very quickly to my catering request; a birthday dinner party for 10. We were all traveling in from the east coast, renting a house in Palm Springs for the week. We spoke on the phone where he put together a 4-course menu, while being respectful of my budget. He was also accommodating of the food requirements /allergies of our guests. The overall process went very smoothly. Day of the event, Chef William arrived right on time (if not a few minutes early.) He arrived solo, completely prepared with all of his equipment and food, and took over the kitchen with ease. All we had to do was sit, and enjoy the evening and his amazing food! Chef William prepared and served each course, explaining what each plate included. He really provided an amazing, personal experience right at our home. The feedback from all our guests was great; everyone loved the food and were quite satiated. And once the dinner was complete, Chef William packed everything up, leaving the kitchen as clean as when he arrived; nothing left for us to do. I would highly recommend Chef William to anyone planning a similar event.
Private Chef William BloomhuffPrivate Chef William Bloomhuff
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