How Much Does It Cost to Cater a Wedding in San Francisco?

Wedding planning is stressful. There are so many details to keep up with, and missing even a single one can be a potential disaster. I've been planning weddings in California since the year 2000, so I know firsthand the things that need to be finalized and locked well in advance. Catering is one area that I never let my couples push till the end because that just means inviting extra costs or bad food. Sometimes both. 

One big question I often get asked is: How much does it cost to cater a wedding in San Francisco? Today, I will be answering that and sharing the average cost of catering San Francisco weddings.

How Much Does It Cost to Cater a Wedding in San Francisco?

For a low-end catering option, San Francisco wedding couples can expect to pay at least $10 to $50 per head. Middle-range catering services typically range from $50 to $150 per head, while gourmet cuisine with luxurious amenities may cost at least $150 to $500 per head.

Elegant wedding reception with chandeliers and white flowers

The cost of catering a wedding in San Francisco can vary significantly depending on the level of service and cuisine desired. Remember, these are starting prices in a city with a reputation for high living costs and exceptional culinary standards.

Average Cost of Catering a Wedding in San Francisco

Whenever I talk to clients about their catering budget, the conversation often starts with the average cost in mind. A survey shows that California is among the 10 states with the highest average wedding costs

My clients are often surprised at how menu customization, service styles (plated, buffet, or family style), and additional rental needs can affect the final cost. 

Low Budget

When planning a wedding on a strict budget, catering costs can be substantial, yet manageable. For each guest, you can expect spending to start at $10, which can go up to $50. 

I advise couples to be creative with their menu selection to keep the costs towards the lower end of this range. It also helps to pick the right month to get married in San Francisco to score sweet catering deals and discounts.

Middle Range

As I guide couples in planning a wedding, I explain catering options that provide a balance of quality and cost. In my experience, for those looking to strike this balance, you can expect to spend between $50 to $150 for each guest.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a majestic suspension bridge spanning the bay

High-End and Premium

For couples with a refined palate or those looking to add an extra touch of elegance and luxury, a starting point for high-end wedding catering is around $150 per person, which can easily go up to $500. Aside from the flavors, the presentation and services tailored to a couple's style are also the focus of these catering services, which include but are not limited to:

Factors for Determining Wedding Catering Prices

While the range for wedding catering prices goes from $10 per head to $500 based on the style of catering service and choice of cuisine, there are some other factors that can impact these prices.

When I'm planning weddings, I consider several factors that significantly affect the catering prices.

  1. Type of cuisine: Opting for local, seasonal fare can reduce costs, while exotic or imported ingredients can increase the price per person. Vegan, organic, or gluten-free options may also increase the cost.
  2. Beverage and bar service: In contrast to a more basic selection of beverages, premium spirits and vintage wines will drive up the price.
  3. Guest count: Larger weddings with more guests typically lead to bulk discounts on per-person costs. Caterers often charge based on the number of attendees, so I make sure to complete my couples' RSVPs to get a precise guest count for an accurate quote.
  4. Service level: A plated service usually requires more staff and resources, which increases the price, compared to a buffet or family-style service.
  5. Equipment rentals: Plates, glassware, and linens may need to be rented, especially if the venue does not provide these.
  6. Venue and location: On-site catering at hotels or dedicated San Francisco outdoor venues usually means kitchen facilities are included. Off-site catering may entail additional logistics and costs.

Cost-Saving Tips for Wedding Catering

Catering can significantly impact your wedding budget. When planning wedding finances, about 23% of couples prioritize budgeting for their catering needs, and so should you.

I share these tips with my couples, so they can serve delightful meals to their guests without overspending. Remember, every dollar saved on catering can be allocated to another aspect of your special day.

Elegant banquet table with white candles, green floral arrangements, gold glassware, and flatware, guests in formal attire

Related Questions

What is the Cheapest Food to Cater at a San Francisco Wedding?

The cheapest option for San Francisco wedding catering would be to opt for buffet-style service with simple, budget-friendly dishes like tacos, pasta, salads, and sandwiches. Food trucks or casual catering companies that specialize in comfort foods or ethnic cuisines can also provide cost-effective options.

How do you Plan a San Francisco Wedding Catering Budget?

To plan a catering budget for a San Francisco wedding, start by determining your general wedding budget and allocating a reasonable percentage (typically 25-30%) for food and beverages. Do your research on various catering companies and their pricing structures, considering the guest count, menu options, and service style preferences.

How can I Find Budget-Friendly Catering Options for a Wedding in the San Francisco Bay Area?

To find budget-friendly catering options for weddings in the San Francisco Bay Area, you could explore non-traditional catering services like food trucks, family-owned restaurants, or ethnic cuisine providers. You could also turn to your wedding planner for catering advice.


Researching wedding catering costs in San Francisco in advance can save you from additional stress. This step will also ensure that you and your guests get to enjoy the most scrumptious food while spending good times together. Wise budgeting, especially for catering, will allow you to allocate more funds to other aspects of your wedding, perhaps even towards expert wedding planning services that can make your wedding planning less daunting and more fun!