Find Wedding Caterers in North Carolina
From Raleigh-Durham to the NC Triad, Mountains to Coast, wedding catering tips, timeline and guide
The centerpiece of the wedding reception is the meal. It’s an age-old tradition – as two individuals pledge a lifelong partnership, their families and friends break bread together in celebration. For many, catering is the most memorable part of the day. So when it comes to picking your NC wedding caterers, you want to get it right.
Fortunately, being part of the Triangle NC foodie community has advantages – even when it comes to weddings. NC has a wide range of wedding catering options, from whole hog barbecue roast to live action stir fry stations to authentic Indian cuisine and farm-to-table multi-course meals. Regardless of what type of wedding meal you have in mind, you need to have your ducks in a row before you start shopping.
When Should I Book My Wedding Caterer?
Do not book a wedding caterer until you have chosen your venue! You might end up at a venue that offers in-house catering. Other venues have a list of approved caterers. Please note, the Heart of NC Weddings preferred caterers are all highly respected in our region and will overlap with many of these venue lists – so we are a great place to start your research!
If you have chosen a wedding venue that does not come with in-house catering, you will need to hire a wedding caterer. Start shopping for your wedding caterer 9-12 months in advance.
When you inquire with a wedding caterer, you will be asked to provide the following information
- Your wedding date. Even caterers with large operations have a limit on how many events they can book on a particular date, so this is the most important piece of the puzzle.
- Your wedding location. Most caterers have a range of mileage they will travel for wedding jobs.
- Your guest count. The caterer will not be able to give you an accurate quote unless you have an idea on guest count.
How Much Does Wedding Catering Cost in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill, NC?
Think about your wedding meal budget this way: Imagine that you are taking your partner out to a special date night. You order appetizers first, then salad, go all out with prime rib for the main course and top it off by sharing a bottle of your favorite red wine. That’s going to run you a couple hundred dollars or more. Let’s just say $130-140 per person with gratuity. Now multiply that by your number of guests, and that’s approximately how much your wedding meal will cost! Alternately, you take your date to a taco joint. Maybe you order some chips and salsa and a pitcher of margaritas. Now you might be looking at $25-30 per person.
Obviously, there’s a wide range of options and price points when it comes to the wedding meal. For food, packages range from $40-$100 per person from most Raleigh-Durham area wedding caterers. Even if you only do a smaller “grazing” spread package, which could be in the $20-30 range, with staffing and tax you’ll be looking at that $40 starting point.
Alcohol is a different ballgame. Some caterers and bar services charge by consumption, but most charge an hourly rate per person. This is going to be retail rates just like when you have dinner at a nice restaurant. So think in terms of $20-30 per person, per hour. Whoever is serving your alcohol must be ABC licensed. Learn more about that on our bartending services page.
At the end of the day, your wedding catering budget is going to be based on your guest count! But the rule of thumb is that the wedding venue + meal (food and drink) combined should make up 60% of the total reception cost.
Considerations When Searching for Your NC Wedding Caterers
- The first step before you begin your search is to book your wedding venue and estimate how many guests will attend.
- If the venue did not recommend the caterer, ask the prospective catering companies if they’ve worked at the venue before.
- Find out from your caterer what their speciality is, or the most popular dishes for your wedding season.
- Ask your caterer if they can accommodate special dietary requirements, and how they take care of those requests on the wedding day.
- Talk about the wedding tasting. Is it private, or at a group event? Both are absolutely fine ways to taste the food. Make sure you are tasting the items that interest you the most!
- Ask if they are ABC licensed and serve alcohol. If so, discuss bar packages accordingly.
- Ask about dessert packages.
- Ask about vendor meals. Typically the caterer will remind you to count them in!
Planning Your Wedding Menu
Your wedding caterer will be able to guide you to a wonderful menu. Many have sample menus to choose from. Other popular NC caterers like to build custom menus based on your story as a couple.
What are the different options for serving food at a wedding?
- Passed hors d’oeuvres
- Grazing tables
- Live action stations
- Table service with pre plated meals
- Family style
- Food trucks
Now Get Shopping – Meet the Heart of NC Weddings Caterers in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary, NC
We are so excited to introduce you to the best NC wedding caterers! Shop the Heart of NC Weddings caterers in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary, NC. Please note, each company travels to serve weddings across the Triangle and central North Carolina.
Our recommended wedding caterers are masters in their field. Rest assured, each has a strong reputation for excellent service. In fact, you’ll probably notice many of these names on your wedding venues’ recommended lists too. Many of our caterers source food from local NC farms and are well versed in planning eco-friendly menus.
Every one of these caterers has passed our Heart of NC team’s taste test. We have tasted the culinary delights of every single one of these caterers, and they are all amazing in their own right. Whether at luncheons or wedding shows, industry events or cooking contests, we know these caterers to be the best in the NC wedding business. If you meet any of our caterers, please tell them you used our local wedding planning website for your research!