(Closed) How much food to provide for cocktail hour

posted 10 years ago in Food
Post # 3
Member
150 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Ask people you know about the food at weddings they’ve attended in the past and they will almost always base their opinion on the food at the cocktail hour.  It seems unfair, that after all of the money and time spent choosing the perfect menu for the dinner or lunch that the only food the guests remember is the cocktail hour food, but unfortunately it’s true.

If money is an issue, skip the salad or soup course and add a few extra hor d’oeurve choices or a station or two.  The caterers I’ve researched all recommend 6-8 pieces pp of what ever passed hor d’ouerves you choose with a station or two.  Think assorted cheese and crudite or an antipasto station.

Also consider that if you are having an open bar and not enough food during the first hour, people might be a little more tipsy then you’d like before the sit-down lunch and toasts….

Post # 4
Member
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

I agree with ynichole – I hadn’t explicitly heard the 6 – 8 pieces per person rule, but as I look at how many of each of our choices our caterer calculated, it comes out to about 8 pieces per person.  I have been to weddings that had fantastic food, and although I do remember that, I also remember that the hors d’oeuvres were all gone 20 minutes into the cocktail hour, which was not good.  I would also second that if you want to save money, or are just worried about having too much food, you can offer people either soup or salad (both are probably not necessary).

Post # 5
Member
117 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2008 - United Methodist Cathedral & historic downtown hotel in Cleveland

I’ve read acutally that it should be 3-5 pieces/person for cocktail hour, especially if you are serving a 4 course meal.  We’re doing 4 pieces/person.

Post # 6
Member
388 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2018

It depends on whether you are planning to tray-pass or have them at a buffet station.  Tray-passing slows down the process and people don’t have the urge to grab 3 or 4 at a time like they do when it’s all sitting there in a shiny chafing dish!  But then you have to pay for the servers to pass them around.

If you’ve ever been to a cocktail event, think about how many appetizers you’ve eaten.  I know you’ll be serving your guests a full meal, but people are always starving during the cocktail hour and  I agree w/ vnichole…if it’s a full bar, you don’t want people getting drunk on an empty stomach of 2-3 apps.

I’d err on the safe side and account for 8-10 pieces, especially if it’ll only be a few hundred dollars for.  If it’s going to be a budget breaker, provide as much as your budget will allow.

Post # 7
Member
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Our caterer seem to use a complicated relationship between how long our cocktail "hour" actually is, the amount of food we were serving for dinner (that’s where your courses come in), the time of day, and the actual hors d’ouevres we chose to come up with his estimate of what we would need.  We are getting three cold and three hot hors d’ouevres, and I know that in general the cold pieces are smaller than the hot ones.  So really, I suppose it depends to some degree.  I do know that as we added and changed selections, he kept changing the amounts required.  Basically it looks like we have 1 piece of each hot per person, and 1.5 pieces of each cold.  For lunch I would not think you would need as much as for dinner, as lunch is generally a lighter meal.  (But then, I’m not a caterer.  My caterer and pastry chef seem to have a lot of seemingly arcane knowledge concerning how much of what actually gets eaten and when, so I am basically trusting them.)

Post # 8
Member
96 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2008

At the last wedding I went to, I noticed a ton of hor d’oeuvres left over.  There were servers walking around with trays full of food and no one was eating it.  The full trays were set on a table for a while until they were finally taken back to the kitchen.  The food was good, but maybe too heavy or just bad timing?  It stuck in my head because I hate to waste anything. 

We originally chose 3 different hor d’oeuvres for our cocktail hour.  We are having about 60 guests and the pictures will coincide with the cocktail hour.  We met with our caterer again last week and she insisted that we add 2 more passed appetizers and 2 stations.  That brings us up to 7 different things!  Is that normal for such a small group?  I would expect most of our family will still be involved in the photographs so is this overkill?  I’d personally rather have less choices but plenty to go around. 

Post # 9
Member
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Mrs Pomegranate, we were exactly the opposite – we fell in love with too many of the selections.  My mom insisted three options would be enough, and honestly it probably would be.  But we loved the smoked duck in pastry with a maple and red pepper sauce, and we loved the smoked salmon pate, and we loved the fabulous little little spicy beef skewers, and you have to have fantastic cheeses, and you can totally see where this is going.  (Maybe we should have had lunch before we talked with the caterer, rather than after.)  Anyway, the caterer said no problem, twice as many selections, half as many pieces.  As apparently its really the number of pieces.  Fiance reminds me that the caterer said that people will normally put 4 – 6 pieces on a plate at one time, nobody will actually have one of everything, some people will have two of one thing but hardly anybody will have three or more.  About 1/3 of the people will go back for a second plate if the cocktail hour is long enough. (How does he remember this stuff?)  We are not passing trays, we are just having a station at each end of the room, so I have no idea how that factors into the equation.

Maybe your friends just had too much of each thing?  You don’t say what time the wedding was, but maybe it was not long enough after lunch?  Or maybe a little too long, such that people had a little smackerel of something before coming.  But I guess according to our caterer if the you have ordered aobut 60 pieces of each selection, then you have about 7 pieces per person.  Think about one of each on a small plate, and if it seems like too much, then you probably need less.  Maybe eliminate one selection, or cut the order back to 50 pieces of each selection.

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