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When planning your wedding reception it can be hard to know how much food and alcohol you will need for all of your guests. There are a few things to take into account when determining quantities. Whether you are serving a plated meal or buffet style it is important to make sure you will have enough food for all of your guests.
If you choose to serve appetizers during cocktail hour before dinner the general rule of thumb is 2 per guest. If your ceremony is on the longer side or dinner will be served later it may be a good idea to have as many as 5 hors d’oeuvres per guest.
Salads and Sides
You may choose to serve a salad as a stand-alone course or with the main meal. Whatever way you choose to serve your salad, opt for about one-cup per guest. For other sizes plan to order four to six ounces per side, per guest.
For a plated entree at your reception, you want to ensure guests have enough food. Portion sizes tend to vary depending on the dish, but the general rule of thumb is six to eight ounces per guest.
Buffet Style Entrees
If you are planning for a buffet-style meal, guests will serve themselves from food stations. They will select their own food choices and portions. Because guests choose their own portions, they tend to over-serve themselves. We recommend increasing the portions listed above by an ounce or two.
If you are worried about running low on food ask your caterer to ensure correct portion sizes. Another option is to hire a staff to serve the buffet line and manage portions.
When you order a wedding cake the serving sizes tend to be easier. Each guest gets a standard slice of cake. A wedding case is usually sliced into pieces one inch by two inches. If you are serving a round cake, a 12-inch cake serves 56 people while a 16-inch cake serves 100. A square cake tends to serve more people so a 12-inch cake serves 72 while a 16-inch serves 128.
If you choose to serve late-night snacks to satisfy hungry guests after dancing it can be hard to know how much to serve. Some guests may leave early, others may not be hungry yet. Because of that, there is no rule of thumb for late-night snacks. We recommend asking your caterer about how much food to buy.
Whether there will be an open bar or a cash bar, you still need to know how much alcohol to have on hand to serve all of your guests without running out. The first step is to know who will be there, are they big drinkers or do they only tend to have one or two drinks? Do your guests prefer Miller Lite or craft beers? What about their wine or liquor preferences?
So to know how much you need, first, you need to decide whether you will have beer and wine only, a full bar, or a modified version of the two. If you are choosing a full-bar the best choice is to opt for a professional bartending service. For a modified bar we recommend two types of beer, red and white wine, whiskey, gin and vodka. There are a few options to add on top of these options like sparkling wine, rose, tequila and rum.
A good rule of thumb is to expect light drinkers to have one drink per hour. Moderate drinkers tend to have about one and a half drinks per hour, while heavy drinkers have two or more drinks per hour.
While these numbers can be spot on it is always important to know your guests and how they tend to eat, and always check with your caterer, they are the experts for a reason!
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