Buffet catering- ordering 1.5x the number of guests?

posted 3 years ago in Food
Post # 2
5750 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

In my experience people tend to serve more from a buffet, and you can’t really anticipate which items will be more popular so I definitely would order more than what you think is necessary. 

Post # 3
364 posts
Helper bee

Had a buffet wedding and there were a few people extra who showed up last minute but we had more than enough food! The caterer I hired was quite generous, I say 1/4 Or even 1/3 of the food was leftovers that we were all able to bring home. 

Post # 4
664 posts
Busy bee

Caterers should have enough extra at a buffet that you don’t have to worry about it.. You shouldn’t have to pay for 50% more people. The caterer I hired will cook enough food for that extra 50% at no extra charge; its just part of having a buffet

Post # 5
47444 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

This is your caterer’s responsibility. You provide them with the number of guests. They provide enough food to feed those guests. Having servers at the buffet can help prevent guests overloading their plates before everyone has at least once chance at the buffet.

Post # 6
5043 posts
Bee Keeper

1.5 times may be stretching it.  Caterers are well versed at this and know to pad the amounts accordingly.  So when you tell them 50 people, they usually don’t have only exactly 50 servings.

That said, I usually pad my numbers by about 5 people or 5%, which ever is more to account for unexpected plus ones or people who thought they couldn’t make it and suddemly could.  That plus the amount the caterer pads in their amounts is usually more than enough.  And there are some things you rarely need the full amounts of and some you need more.  Like I’ve learned if mac and cheese is offered you order more.  Salad and veggie trays can usually go slightly under.  And it also depends on the variety of foods.  The more variety, the more total food you need but the less of each variety.  

For example, the rule of thumb is 1.5 cupcakes per person for dessert. So 100 guests = 150 cupcakes. If you have more than one flavor, you bump it up to 2 cupcakes per person.  So that doesn’t mean you have to have 2 of each flavor per person – you have 200 total cupcakes and 3 flavors means 66ish of each flavor.

Any good caterer, restaurant, or deli can help you with amounts once you give them your specifics.  It is their job to know this and they have years of experience. 

Post # 7
1071 posts
Bumble bee

View original reply
akm57 :  definitely order more food! You can always take home the leftovers if need be. I went to a wedding recently that had a buffet but only put out saucers — not salad or dinner plates. It was weird and all of the guests felt like they were being discouraged from eating. No one wanted to run up to the buffet line multiple times. 

Post # 8
5778 posts
Bee Keeper

That sounds insanely high. A reputable caterer will advise you properly based on the number of people you have. We went with the actual number of people coming and there was plenty of food! 

Post # 9
2382 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: NJ

Caterers use a ridiculous standard for the meaning of the word “serving”. What most people consider a serving of something is a lot more than the tablespoon a caterer calls a serving.

Caterers act like everyone is going to eat like a bird at an event, and I like to strap on the feed bag.

Post # 10
18 posts

Funny – I just emailed my caterer about this yesterday.  I wasn’t sure if it was a stupid question, but he assured me it was not.  I am a bariatric surgery patient, as are three or four of my friends, so we don’t eat as much (plus I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to actually eat on my wedding day anyway, lol), but my Fiance has an extra large appetite.  Plus I was wondering about the guest count.  Like, if someone extra shows up, how will they know?  I didn’t ask him that, though, lol.

Post # 11
353 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2017

I had plated meals but ordered 3 extra of all the options of the main (although people had to choose beforehand) as well as padded the numbers for the hors-d’oeuvres and dessert and cake because I didn’t want to risk running out or some other situation. My parents dropped off the leftovers at a night shelter close to the venue afterwards, and the peace of mind was worth it. But 50% extra?? That seems OTT to me.

Post # 12
5348 posts
Bee Keeper

That sounds like way too much food. From my personal observation at receptions, most people do not even get up and go to the buffet a second time.

Post # 13
5348 posts
Bee Keeper

That sounds like way too much food. From my personal experience at wedding receptions, most people do not even get up and go to the buffet a second  time.

Post # 14
377 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

View original reply
akm57 :  Oh lord…who the hell wrote that article 🙄. Not only did they unnecessarily add one more thing for a bride to worry about, they are influencing people to spend unnecessary money and also creating unnecessary waste. NOT HELPFUL at all lol.

If you are using a reputable caterer, you will not need to do this. Caterers already know how to quantify their food items and automatically do so for you. For example, if you have 50 guests some items will be quantified for 2pp, others 1.5pp, and so on depending on what is typically consumed of each item. This is not something that you will have to worry about. Your catering sales and event managers will do this for you.

Caterers also send a percentage of extras to be safe. You should have plenty of food if you order based on your true guest count.

Post # 15
3825 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2017

Yeah, I feel like a good caterer will build in a bit extra so by ordering 1.5x you might end up with a load of leftovers. You can just ask them directly about this if you’re worried. If you do want to pad the numbers I would do say 10% extra rather than 50%.

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