Wedding and Event Catering

Find a caterer near Cary, NC

Find a caterer near Cary, NC

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Top 5 Caterers near Cary, NC

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 Cary caterers
Thumbtack Customer
Not sure how her food is. She wanted to charge a fee to come and look at our kitchen. We did not use her for our catering needs.
Zacki's Culinary CreationsZacki's Culinary Creations
Dearest W.
Jamaica Coast Catering did an outstanding job for our Mother and daughter double graduation event. The food was fantastic and the servers were professional. This is absolutely a catering company I will definitely recommend for your next venue. The owner Marcia is friendly, warm, and professional. She truly vaules her work and her clients. Thank you Marcia and your servers for a memorable time. God bless!
Jamaica Coast CateringJamaica Coast Catering
Lisa W.
Impeccable Catering came through for us! Not only were they professional from start to finish, the food was beautifully presented and delicious! We will use them again!
Impeccable Catering and Event Services, Inc.Impeccable Catering and Event Services, Inc.
Som R.
We went with Jamaica Coast Catering for our wedding. The food was well liked by everyone who attended. The price we settled for was a tad bit on the higher side but Marcia took care of everything including the rentals. The best thing about Marcia and her crew is the fact that they actually understand diverse cuisines and are flexible, easy to work with. We were happy with outcome and would highly recommend Jamaica Coast Catering especially if you are considering having ethnic cuisine (i.e. Indian) as an option!
Jamaica Coast CateringJamaica Coast Catering
Terence B.
Needed some sides for Thanksgiving at work. We had mac and cheese, dressings and greens(should of been green beans). The Mac and cheese was the star and everyone loved that dish the most. Would recommend for any catering needs.
Kickback Q’s CateringKickback Q’s Catering
Lisa W.
From start to finish Jevon did a fantastic job! He & his staff were so nice & friendly. Many of our guest commented on how nice the staff was as well as how much they enjoyed the food. I highly recommend Jevon of Impecable Catering & Events.
Impeccable Catering and Event Services, Inc.Impeccable Catering and Event Services, Inc.
Thumbtack Customer
Zacki and her team did a fabulous job of organizing the catering and decor for a surprise birthday party at my home. They came in 2 hours before event start to set up the decor and lay out an immaculate spread of foods. Her crew included another chef who did some special grilling, a bartender and her assistant, who did a smashing job at presention of the food platters. They also help serve my guests during the party and were simply very professional and impressionable. Zacki and her crew made the event a huge success - and the did a great job at cleaning up at the end of the event, packing all left-overs in a manner that made it easy to the die-hards at the party to continue on. Thank you chef Zacki !!
Zacki's Culinary CreationsZacki's Culinary Creations
Felicia S.
Impeccable Catering exceeded our expectations in every way. I am not from the NC area so naturally I was a bit in the dark about who to hire for my BFF’s Baby shower. Thankfully I found Impeccable on Thumbtack. From the beginning, Jevon was super flexible with our menu options (preparing a separate tray of gluten-free, dairy free, nut free diet for the guest of honor). I went through a few menu revisions and Jevon was super patient us and also suggested different options. Upon arrival, Jevon and the Impeccable staff showed up with friendly, smiling faces. They were punctual and professional. I didn’t have to lift a finger. They handled all set up and prepared a beautiful table of food and goodies. Everything packaged so neatly and clean. The fruit and pastries were robust, colorful and fresh. With the aroma of the delicious foods , we all couldn’t wait to dig in. The Impeccable team waited patiently for the guests of honor to arrive. Once we were ready to serve food, they handled it all. The food was absolutely delicious and left everyone coming back for seconds! Between the shrimp & grits, chicken & waffles, Hawaiian meatballs, chicken salad, bacon and breakfast quiche, there was something for everyone to enjoy. The food itself was an experience, and I was proud I found Impeccable! It elevated our event and everyone couldn’t stop talking about it. Thank you to the lovely Impeccable team for a successful event!
Impeccable Catering and Event Services, Inc.Impeccable Catering and Event Services, Inc.
Thumbtack Customer
My husband and I were extremely disappointed with the service and food we got after hiring Zacki. We had hired Zacki for an informal rehearsal dinner in our backyard for 28 guests (we had several cancel so we ended up having closer to 23-24 guests - some of whom were children and others who do not drink, this is important later). Where to begin? Zacki required us to purchase sparkling wine (which is fine b/c of NC laws), in her contract she stated we needed to purchase 3 bottles to make a cocktail for our guests. I bought 4 bottles just in case we needed an extra. The day she arrived at our home, I showed her the bottles and then she spoke down to me like a child for only providing 4 bottles. She said something along the lines of "4 bottles? really? for 25 guests?" I told her I purchased the number she requested in her contract, but said she asked for more in our emails - she didn't. So we had to send a guest to pick up more sparkling. The sparkling probably wasn't enough because a guest had informed us after they made the cocktails, Zacki and her assistants were drinking the cocktail she made for us in our home. Then, she asked where the red wine was that she could use for cooking. I told her she never requested red wine in the contract or in our emails. She said she did request it. I looked through our emails and contract - there was no mention of red wine at all. Again, I had to send someone out to purchase red wine for us to use. Zacki wanted to know if we had additional tables to use for food and plating to set up - we had two large tables that we set up in the backyard. Once they were set up, she was upset and in a very pretentious and exaggerated way she exclaimed "What is this!? What is this!?" as she gestured towards the table set up. My guests who help put up the tables were confused and didn't understand why she was upset after we put up the tables as requested. We felt like we, and our guests, were bossed around a lot during the entire event. While I don't mind placing a table, or finding plates, trays, extra to use for an event like this, I don't appreciate being spoken down to. There's no reason to act like you're better than the guests or the people paying for your service. She kept asking for more and more, for someone who has supposedly catered for so long, I felt like she could have asked for all the things she wanted prior to coming in to my home. I had multiple pitchers, plates, trays even 2 disposable chafing pans for her to use, and felt like it still wasn't enough. I had found every piece she wanted, and more, but it wasn't enough for her. On to the actual food - I had wanted the dinner to start at 6pm, Zacki and her assistants arrived around 4, but we didn't have the apps ready until close to 7, and the dinner wasn't served until a little after 8pm. The main course I requested was disappointing, and rather bland. The side of potatoes she made was good and everyone seemed to enjoy them but she didn't make enough. We had given her the final number of people attending, some guests had to cancel and others didn't eat at all - but somehow she didn't make enough of the side. Overall we felt bossed around during the actual event, she spoke down to us when asking us questions, she was very demanding during the set up to everyone there. We followed her contract and claimed she asked for more of the sparkling and red wine - when she didn't actually state that anywhere at all in our communications. To top everything off - two days after the event we discovered that one of our own bottles of sparkling wine (one that we did not give her permission to use) had been opened and used. This was particularly upsetting because I had purchased this bottle at a Wegman's in Virginia (which we don't have here), the bottle had some special meaning to me and my now husband. This bottle had special meaning to us, as the name of this bottle of sparkling would be my future last name. I had planned to open the bottle after our wedding day and enjoy it with my now husband. The bottle of sparkling was relatively cheap, less than $20, I don't care about being refunded for it - my plan to enjoy that bottle of sparkling after our wedding, which had our last name on it, was ruined. I would not recommend, this was an overpriced & stressful event for mediocre food. Don't hire unless you already have commercial sized tools in your own home. She won't bring her own. **In response to Zacki's comment below: 1) I sent multiple pictures of my kitchen and backyard to Zacki, they knew what they were going in to. 2) The stove wasn't malfunctioning, there was some granite damage to the area surrounding the stove, but nothing about the stove was malfunctioning itself. 3) She never apologized for using a reserved bottle of sparkling at my house. 4) We eventually put our dog upstairs. 5) I grabbed all the things she wanted in our exchanged emails, and I expected her to actually bring her own tools to cook with, since I can't cook for 25 people myself. That's why I hired a cater, to cater for 25 people. 6) She never responded to my last email where I sent her a screenshot image of the last contract she sent me that showed she never asked for.
Zacki's Culinary CreationsZacki's Culinary Creations
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