Wedding Reception Food
How Much to Buy?
Ask-a-Caterer Replies to:

Marlene and Alan from Olympia, Washington, who asked:

Alan and Marlene write: “We are doing our own wedding reception food. Our guest list is set at 130, and we need to keep the cost down.

We have lots of help from friends and family, but we don’t now how much to buy?

Is there a formula, or way to know how much we need? We’ve decided on several dishes and salads, but how do we plan? Please help us! Thanks in advance :-)”

Ask-a-Caterer Replies: Hi Marlene and Alan - Congrats to you! Don’t worry, we’ll help you with the planning.

Here’s a bit of info from our site about portioning:

Appetizer Menu?: Serving Snacks, Appetizers, Desserts - but not Dinner: 
Plan for 6-8 bites per person, per hour, less after each hour.

Dinner Menu?: Snacks, Appetizers, Dinners, Salads, Vegetables, Desserts: 
Plan for 1.5 pounds of food per person.

All this said, there’s a lot of factors that will change these numbers, such as how you’re serving the meal (buffet, family-style, etc.,) the age of your guests, time of meal, length of meal, serving alcohol?, etc.  But these are general guidelines that will help you plan.

The idea here is that there is only so much food that people can eat, which is what ‘food portion control’ is all about.

But your guests need to like your food. You can’t expect 130 people to eat 8 ounces each of Stuffed Turnip... The foods you serve need to be popular ones that you believe your guests will enjoy.

Go to our Home Page, scroll down the left hand side and look for the seven recipe pages sections under “Party Recipes.” Go through them and find some party food ideas you like, or use them to refine some of the dishes you’ve already planned.

Then, Menu Planning will show you professional caterer’s guides for ways to build an actual wedding reception, complete with quantities, step by step photo recipes, and even shopping lists - for free!

And Alan and Marlene, we have a section just for you: Catering Your Own Wedding is loaded with ideas and how-tos about it all, from what to rent all the way to baking and decorating your own Wedding Cake.

You can always use Ask-a-Caterer for specific amounts. Send us your menu, and we'll tell you how much you'll need of each item.

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