Hidden Costs: What You Need to Know

How to read the fine print on everything from flowers to food and much more.

hidden costs catering

Think you’ve heard the end of food-related expenses when your venue tells you how much each guest’s plate will cost you? Think the only number that matters is the price for the buffet-style spread? Not so. When utilizing a catering company for an outdoor event, there are other costs. “Generally, pricing without rentals and dinner wines and champagne runs about $225 to $275 per person for a high-end catering company,” says Olivier Cheng, president of Olivier Cheng Catering and Events in New York City. “Rentals are billed separately and average another $75 to $125 per person.”

Cheng notes that a good caterer will help you figure out how to use simple plates, glassware and linens to create a satisfying feast that’s still within your means. “I tell brides to go with the things that really matter. Nix the cocktail stations if you have to—no one will miss them if you have enough passed food.”

Flam advises asking if the cocktail reception is included in the package price. You should also inquire if bartenders are included in the venue fee, says Gregoli, and what kind of expenses each bar option entails: “The biggest unexpected situation I have encountered is when a bride chooses to do a bar and pays per drink. If the crowd drinks heavily, the price can be more than double the per-head cost.”

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Photo by Sarah Brysk Cohen