Find a caterer near Charleston, SC

Find a caterer near Charleston, SC

Find a caterer near Charleston, SC

Give us a few details and we’ll match you with the right pro.

Zip code

Top 6 Caterers near Charleston, SC

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 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 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.

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 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.
Reviews for Charleston caterers
Sharon S.
Heavenly Hands did a wonderful job with catering our church function. We were pleased with the food and the presentation. The desserts were a hit!
Heavenly Hands
Thumbtack Customer
Islands Catering is FABULOUS!!! They are perfectly organized and on top of the entire party! Our guests RAVED about the service and the food. I will absolutely use Pete and Juli Twomey again! They allowed me to be a guest at my own party. After having owned an oerated an event planning business in San Diego for 7 years, I know good caterers. My experience was stellar.
Islands CateringIslands Catering
Thumbtack Customer
This is the first time I have used Islands Catering and I was very sarisfied. They delivered the food on time and were very helpful getting things set up. I received rave reviews from my customer on the smoked bar-b-que. It was delicious. The potato sald, cole slaw and brownies were excellent as well. I will definitely use Islands Catering for future events.
Islands CateringIslands Catering
Iisha P.
This catering company was ready and wiling to provide for all of my event needs within a week's notice! Truly amazing service, professional customer service, and wait staff!
It's a Win-Win Catering, LLC (Black Owned)It's a Win-Win Catering, LLC (Black Owned)
Katie M.
Miss Katies sweets was amazing! Awesome caterer. We ordered brunch for a bachlerotte weekend one morning. All the food was so good especially the strawberry French toast and quiche! Absolutely delicious! Will definitely do this again if visiting the area!
Miss Katies SweetsMiss Katies Sweets
Thumbtack Customer
Islands Catering not only recommended a great baker and picked up our birthday cake, but did setup in the pouring rain. They quickly reacted and improvised in response to the changing weather. I saw several guests approach Pete to ask for contact info for their upcoming events, and everyone raved about the food!
Islands CateringIslands Catering
Thumbtack Customer
From the time that I searched for a caterer using Thumbtack to the time that Pete dropped my decor off to me after our event, Pete and Juli were professional and responsive. Not to mention the food was AMAZING!! All of our guests raved about how delicious everything was. Pete and Juli also have GREAT ideas!! They suggested the venue where our wedding ceremony ended up being held since we didn't know of any outdoor venues in our price range (we are an out-of-town couple and we were planning a destination wedding in Charleston). They also suggested doing blondies to go with the brownies for dessert that we wanted. Pete and Juli really went above and beyond as far as I'm concerned: they booked the ceremony chairs (even though they were at a separate venue), they picked up all of my decor items, set them up exactly as I specified, and returned them to me a couple days after the reception so that I wouldn't have to worry about packaging them up at the end of the reception. I can't thank them enough and I would definitely very HIGHLY recommend them to anyone that is looking for a caterer in the Charleston area. They were so helpful, the food was AWESOME, and they were wonderful to work with the entire time!!! :-) :-)
Islands CateringIslands Catering
Megan H.
The food was very good! I am actually eating left overs as I type this. We had a business meeting and had our lunch catered. After our lunch he cleaned up everything and stored the left overs in the fridge and took all of the trash wish him. Once he left you couldn't even tell he was in there. While we were in the planning stages he was very responsive and accommodating, as well as personable and very nice. The day of our event our meeting was on the 2nd floor. He did not bring a dolly so we had to make multiple trips to the car to retrieve everything which caused us to start at 12:08 instead of 12:00. An 8 minute delay is not too big of deal but when you only have 30 minutes for lunch in the middle of a meeting it seems like a lot more. He also did not bring a lighter so the food got cold quickly because we could not light the sternos. Although we had a few things go wrong he handled it very professionally and overall the food was still really good. I would hire him again as I believe this was a one time occurrence and he was just having an off day. I look forward to working with him again and giving him another chance as I know next time will be a 5 star experience!
It's a Win-Win Catering, LLC (Black Owned)It's a Win-Win Catering, LLC (Black Owned)
Ready to find a pro?

See more reviews, compare prices, and hire your favorite pros all with Thumbtack.

Why hire professionals on Thumbtack?
Free to use

You never pay to use Thumbtack: Get cost estimates, contact pros, and even book the job—all for no cost.

Compare prices side-by-side

You’ll know how much your project costs even before booking a pro.

Hire with confidence

With access to 1M+ customer reviews and the pros’ work history, you’ll have all the info you need to make a hire.