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Find a caterer near Fairfax, VA

Find a caterer near Fairfax, VA

14 near you

Find a caterer near Fairfax, VA

14 near you

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Top 10 Caterers near Fairfax, VA

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 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.

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 Fairfax caterers
Pam K.
Jackie catered a holiday brunch for me that I was providing to one of my clients. She did an amazing job, Everyone raved how good everything was! Would definitely reach out to her again for my catering needs!
A Private AffairA Private Affair
Sarah B.
We recently hired Clever Catering for our annual holiday party, and everything turned out wonderful. All of our guests loved the food, and Richard was a joy to work with. I highly recommend Clever Catering for your next event!
Clever CocktailsClever Cocktails
Madonna A.
Mercedes Jo Events was everything we could ask for in a caterer. She and her team delivered on-time a fantastic meal for a family gathering. The food was abundant and beautiful. Perfectly prepared and seasoned. All of our expectations were exceeded. The process of working with Mercedes to pick from her extensive menu was was seemless. We will not hesitate to recommend MJEvents to friends and will no doubt return again when we need a caterer. Fabulous. Thank you!
MJE CateringMJE Catering
Alison N.
AC Catering was just perfect! Not only was George very responsive, but the planning conversations both my husband and I had were professional and completely amenable to our gluten free issues. The food was well presented and very tasty, and well received by our guests. My highest praise!
AC CateringAC Catering
Jessica Q.
I am from out of state (AZ) and needed a caterer for an event I was hosting in VA. Based on reviews alone, I decided to work with Mercedes Jo Events, and I am glad I did! The food items were delivered on time, and it was all delicious. I received many compliments! If I am ever hosting an event in the area again, I will definitely be using this caterer. Thank you Shadija for working with me in the decision making process as it was getting a bit overwhelming for me. I appreciate the patience and updates I received. I ordered the party wings, crab bombs, and bang bang shrimp....my guests were asking for more! Wish I took pics! Thanks again!!
MJE CateringMJE Catering
Pier G.
I learned a hard lesson hiring this company based on reviews. They must be written by friends and family. I also didn't do a tasting because I couldn't do it on the days that were specified but I'm not sure that would have changed anything. I really trusted the Thumbtack and Facebook reviews and I wanted to provide my business to a local caterer for instead of giving my business to a chain. My lesson learned. The food was no where close to what I expected it to be for $800.00 for 20-25 people and five items. I could have selected a catered meal for half that at Carrabas and at least then I would have known the food quality I was getting. I let this caterer know my disappointment with what was served my guests on my mom's 85th birthday and she claimed she would refund the total cost of the chicken and salty shrimp. To date and after waiting 2 weeks, I have received a refund of only $88.00. Therefore, I consider this caterer to be dishonest. (I will update the review with a pic of that conversation) The Good: The only good comment I received from my guests was on the mac and cheese which my guests said was good and I agreed. The string beans were ok. The Bad: She delivered the food late and with no utensils. I had to scramble to go to my apartment and get utensils. Regarding the menu, there is a chicken item that states there is a "Grilled" honey lemon baked chicken which is really just backed chicken. There is nothing honey or lemon about it. I expected at least grilled chicken with a honey lemon glaze. Nope. There was not even a honey lemon flavor but bland baked chicken flavor. The shrimp were so salty no one ate them after tasting one. This was the most costly food item of the dinner I ordered. They tasted as if they were soaked overnight in salt. I was so disappointed. In order to not feel like I totally wasted my 840.00 for catering of 20-25 my husband boiled the shrimp to get some of the salt off them so he can eat them the next day. The menu indicated BBQ shrimp which had me thinking BBQ shrimp....no BBQ taste whatsoever. As for the potato salad I knew from a picture posted that it was not traditional but I had no idea it would be whole mini potates cut in half and tossed in mayo. I saw evidence of maybe one boiled egg. As indicated before, to serve everything I had to scramble to my apartment to get serving utensils. The elevators were slow so by the time I made it back to the food the guests had started serving themselves with the plastic cutlery forks and spoons in lieu of utensils. I wanted my moms 85th birthday to be memorable so I tried to do something special with the menu that wasn't from a chain restaurant. When I filled out the intake form I selected I wanted quality ingredients which then increased the price per person and I definitely feel like I got less than the quality expected for over 800.00. Learn from my mistake and hire another caterer. Probably a chain is best so you know what you are getting if you can't do a tasting or ask them to show you pictures so you know what to expect. I trusted this caterer to do a great job for my 85 year old mom's birthday and was so embarrassed and disappointed. I thought she was going to make it right as she indicated in her email to me and that still has not happened.
Elevated Genius Catering & EventsElevated Genius Catering & Events
Rebecca S.
Owner Richard Cohen is unflaggingly genial, very hands on, and overall a delight to work with. He obviously wanted us to have exactly what we wanted and was ready with suggestions from his years of experience when we were undecided. We have no kitchen at our venue; so he brought in everything, with only a staging area provided by us. The food truly was delicious and beautifully presented. Hot foods were hot, and cold foods were cold. His servers and bartender were pleasant, accommodating, and professional. All included - not just the food but tables, linens, plates, napkins, glassware, everything - he kept our once in a lifetime (50th anniversary) event within our requested budget. I highly recommend Clever Catering. No downside, no reservations. Of course I'd hire them again!
Clever CocktailsClever Cocktails
Terry B.
I can't say enough amazing things about Appetites by RJ. Paula provided the highest quality customer service my wife and I could expect from a catering company; especially during these difficult time with COVID-19. The food was delicious (especially the lasagna), all the settings, props, lighting, decorations, chair covers, center pieces, and everything else we requested more than met our expectations. My wife spends at least one hour each day reviewing the pictures of our wedding because it is the most happiest day of her life as the most precious moment and event she will never forget. None of this could have happened without everything Appetites by RJ did for us. Paula was so kind, thoughtful, and professional in each discussion we had with her providing the best recommendations as a person who has done this for some time as a subject matter expert. We can't say enough good things about our experience and would go with Appetites by RJ if we had to plan our wedding again knowing the service we received. This is by far a 10 star out of 5 star company based on value, professionalism and quality. Thank you so much Paula and RJ for everything you did to make our wedding such a wonderful and amazing event that we will remember and cherish for the rest of our lives. Azita and Terry
Appetites by RJAppetites by RJ
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