(Closed) is 15 hors' doeuvres per person enough to substitute a meal?

posted 4 years ago in Reception
Post # 2
9115 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

For me? Probably.. for my husband? Most definitely not. But if I knew there was no dinner, I’d just eat beforehand so it’d be a non issue.

Post # 3
3688 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

Are the guests invited to the ceremony? If so, what time does that start? If I had to be somewhere at 8pm, I would definitely eat dinner beforehand. As far as if 15 pieces are enough, it really depends on the size of the pieces. I’ve been to two cocktail style weddings — at one there was NOT enough food and at the other, there was plenty.

Post # 4
4040 posts
Honey bee

As a vegetarian, I don’t think I’d want to eat 7 each, of two different veggie offerings.

Post # 5
553 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

mle812:  I think its a good number. Even with eating a full dinner at 6 pm or so a person could easily chow down 10 bite size snacks while chatting & drinking. Making sure they’re tasty is most important.

Post # 7
3718 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

mle812:  I think it is enough food, but we wouldn’t eat 15 and would get dinner first. I love cocktail receptions in theory,  but it is really hard to judge what I am going to eat based on passed trays. Some cocktail receptions have plenty of good options,  but the servers with the gluten free or vegetarian options never make there way around. To prevent being starving (and getting drunk super fast), Darling Husband and I would eat before.  And we wouldn’t be the only one.


I am only letting you know this so you can manage your expectations.  YOu will have lots of leftovers because lots of people wont make it their meal.How many? It is hard to say; but you could probably get by with 12 pieces per person. 

Post # 8
325 posts
Helper bee

Yes, that should be enough as long as most are larger than your average size appetizers. We did the same thing, and I am so glad we did not settle on something we didn’t want (plated or buffet dinner). However, there was a lot of thought that went into making sure we got it just right. I can tell you it was more expensive the way we did it, than a plated or buffet dinner would have been. So, it may not be the best option if trying to save money.

Ours were cooked on site and butler passed all evening, a few different types per hour. This ensured that they were always hot and fresh. We also made sure to have the waiters enter with each platter from different areas of the reception pavilion, and they were assigned their own sections as to avoid any one group or person monopolizing them. Each hour, half of the options were 4-bite apps and the rest regular 2-bite. We had a couple of stations also set on either side of the room, with some of the heavier selections nicely displayed… As some people can be embarrassed to keep grabbing off of the same trays, or to chase down a waiter for more food. And, of course, we had enough of a variety that anyone (regardless of allergies or diet preferences) could eat. As for seating, we had large round tables that would have accommodated 75% of our guests at any given time, and several large standing cocktail tables sprinkled throughout. Many people chose to never sit (which we had hoped for). We did have two tables reserved specifically for family, but the rest was open seating. 

Most importantly, we had enough to substitute as an entire meal for each person (20pp), we still made it *very* clear on the invitations, website and word of mouth that it was not a traditional, sit-down reception. We had quite a bit leftover. Some people ate prior, so some only ate a few bites while other heartier eaters probably had 20-25 pieces. It is worth mentioning that we also had another 10-15 pieces per person in different desserts (not counting the cake), as well. Our caterer boxed the leftovers up so that nothing went to waste. They had several of our favorite selections boxed special for us (we requested well before the wedding), which we ate in the bubble bath jacuzzi after the wedding (LOL). We gave the rest of the boxes to our friends at the hotel. They were *extremely* thankful the next day, and we got some really cute pictures of them chowing down by the pool and on their long car rides home the next day. 

Post # 10
398 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

Well, no, I don’t think it’s enough to substitute for a meal…but it also sounds like you don’t completely intend for it to be a meal substitute. At that time of night, I assume most people will have eaten something before they come. Put something like “heavy hors d’oeuvres” on your invitation, and explain informally on your website and through word of mouth what you intend (it sounds like…have a small dinner before, bring your appetite but don’t be starving?) People will figure it out.

Post # 11
325 posts
Helper bee

mle812:  We had ~75 people… We paid per piece, which drove the cost up based on the complexity/ingredients in the pieces we chose.  While some were $1 per piece (the lighter, basic options), others were much more expensive (up to $5) and were about as big as you can get for a finger food. We figured we would need those as our “anchor” foods with at least 1-2 of the heavier options passed and displayed per hour. If we had chosen all $1 options, it would have been much cheaper. However, we were just so worried that we wouldn’t have enough food. In retrospect, had we just ordered the lower-cost items to keep the price down, I do believe that we would have either ran out -or- had just enough. People would have made due either way, we just didn’t want people leaving overly drunk and/or hungry. 

Post # 13
5955 posts
Bee Keeper

When we had our reception we put on the invite that food was provided, and word of mouth told people what it was (when they RSVP’d) so that people were aware while it wasn’t a sit down meal, it was still dinner like food, (we had ours a sports bar/restaurant) so it had pizza, mac-n-cheese, salad and wings (hubby picked out the options) so people knew that they could eat something light and get a good dinner as well.

Post # 14
424 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - Muckenthaler Cultural Center

The general rule is 5 hors’ doeuvres per person per hour, so depending how long your reception is/how much people drink you might want to recalculate or keep it the same! 🙂

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