Selecting the food and drink is an enjoyable part of planning your wedding reception but deciding on quantities can be tricky. Whether you are using in-house caterers of sourcing your own suppliers, there’s a lot to consider and it can be hard to know where to start. We've got everything you need to know about wedding catering if you need more help.
For most people, your wedding will be the first time you've ever catered for such a large group and with such large quantities, it can be hard to judge how much people will eat and drink. You may be also be unsure of wedding tradition and the correct etiquette.
Wedding planner Mark Niemierko, has planned many fabulous celebrity weddings including those of Marvin and Rochelle Humes and James Corden and his wife Julia. We spoke to Mark to find out the 'dos and don'ts' when planning your wedding day menu.
How many glasses will you get out of a bottle of champagne and wine?
A standard 75 cl bottle of wine or champagne, will give you five large glasses.
How many drinks should we allow per person?
For the drinks reception (of 90 mins) I allow three glasses of champagne per person – it’ll even out as someone will drink one whilst another four. I allocate one bottle of wine per person, with one glass per person for the toast and then an amount for the evening bar.
Image credit: Pedro Portela Photography
What non-alcoholic drinks should we provide for guests?
I allocate one bottle of water per person, along with a soft drink such as elderflower and mint with sparkling water, I’d allocate say 20% of your guests.
How many canapés should we allow per person?
For a normal 90 min drinks reception post ceremony you need to allocate eight canapes. This is something that a lot of venues don’t point out when you book and pay your deposit – they put only five or six knowing full well you’ll increase to eight canapes later on down the line during the planning. I like to highlight this cost from the start – so no surprises.
We've rounded up 31 delicious canape ideas to inspire you.
How many serving staff will we need?
One food waiter per 10 people and one beverage waiter per 20.
What glasses do we need?
For the reception you’ll need glasses for champagne, water, and any cocktails or soft drinks. On each place setting for dinner should be two wine glasses (red and white) a champagne glass if needed for the toast, and a water glass.
Which items of cutlery will we need?
This all depends on your final chosen menu but the starter will require a knife and fork, as does main and a fork and spoon for pudding.
Image credit: Tom's Kitchen
Is there a particular time frame for serving canapés, the main meal etc?
90 mins is the longest a drinks reception should be – one hour the shortest. At dinner allow 30 mins per course and 30 mins for speeches – so approximately two hours for three courses and the speeches.
If couples are on a tight budget, what are the best ways to save money on food/drink?
If you can’t afford to feed 100 people, cut down on your guestlist. Some of the best weddings I’ve planned are the more intimate ones with guests of 20/40 people. Don’t get married too early – get married at 4pm or 5pm – the longer the day the more food and beverage costs will go up. Another alternative is to do away with the sit down meal – host a standing fun canapé reception with midnight munches later on in the evening.
Image credit: South Place Hotel
Mark's advice is an excellent starting point, giving you the basics to work from. Remember if you're still feeling unsure, speak to your venue - they have done this many times before and will be able to advise you. If you are using your own caterers, they will have lots of experience too. If you still haven't booked your venue, make sure you are armed with our questions to ask your venue!