Catering 101: Budgeting Tips


(Source: TEDxLasPalmas)

When it comes to catering any event, foresight is key, especially when it comes to budgeting. According to our own experience and this Quotify article, catering proposals are divided into menu, beverages, itemized rental charges, staffing requirements and any additional costs/taxes. And that’s just skimming the surface. Without the proper know-how and planning, keeping your catering vision aligned with your financial restraints might seem as impossible as climbing Mt. Everest. But with these handy tips, you should be able to have well-catered event without delving into the red. 

Things to do before meeting with potential caterers

Unless you have a longstanding relationship with a caterer who is so attune to your needs and desires that you only need to utter the words “grape juice” for them to understand your vision for your event, then you need to meet with or chat online with potential caterers. And you need to be well-prepared for those meetings.

  • Finalize your guest list.
  • Have a written and detailed plan about your specific catering vision for your event. This not only saves you and the caterer some time hashing out the details, but your preparedness will allow them to have a better idea of how much the whole shebang will cost way in advance.

Negotiating your budget

The old adage “You get what you pay for” still rings true. If you want to wow your guests, you will have to pay accordingly. But that doesn’t mean paying your caterers should induce a Mariah Carey-level nervous breakdown.  The key to budgeting is being firm yet flexible. Firm- You must have limits a.k.a parts of the budget where you will not budge. Flexible- Caterers are experts in their fields, so when they advise something that is a little out of your fiscal comfort zone, you need to heed their words.

  • Save money through originality by doing some of the catering yourself. This Pinterest board has some great diy ideas, including a blow-up raft being used as a cooler and cool confetti tubes.
  • Go all out the right way by splurging on pieces that will have your guests talking all night. Like eye-catching food sculptures that fit the theme of your event.
  • And most of all, don’t be a scrooge, if you want your event to go well. Trust us, you don’t want to end up like these people.

Calculating your catering needs

Calculating how much food, drinks, staff you need is not an exact science, but it can be difficult and, if not done properly, can put you in the red.

  • Figure out the right amount of food you need based on number of people, the type of crowd, the length of event.
  • Planning Helper has a handy guide to help you when planning an event. And they have some handy tips. Like, contrary to popular belief, people drink less the longer a party lasts.
  • If you’re still not sure how much food, drinks and staff your event requires, ask around. Tap into the knowledge of people/companies who have organized similar events. Their advice will not only save you money, but you will also be building valuable relationships.
  • Still not sure what you need? Have Fiestah help you. Just email

The extras

Now that you have the big things taken care of, do sweat the small stuff.

  • Make sure you have a place to store ice for drinks, because no one likes warm beverages.
  • Employ little touches that make a big difference, like napkins that have your company logo and contact information on it.
  • And have a means to communicate with your staff on the day of the event. Some preferred methods are texting or Boomset.

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