Caterers share the magic number.
daphne jack wedding spain appetizers cheese plate

Planning a wedding menu isn't simply a matter of selecting the entrées to be served at the dinner table. Instead, you'll be building a culinary event that lasts over the course of many hours. You want to kick it off with tasty bites during cocktail hour that give guests the sense that the entire evening will be fun and delicious. So, how many things should be on offer during the course of the hour? We're turning to the experts for their opinions.

Stick with the traditional parameters to plan the menu.

To plan the cocktail hour menu, a number of factors must be considered. Director of events at Fig & Pig Catering, Lainey Nash, says, "Our cocktail hour menus are built depending on a client's guest count, menu requests and preferences, and their budget. The ultimate goal is to make sure guests have enough food to fuel their appetites, while not becoming too full before dinner service."

How many guests will be in attendance?

Leslie Levin Nilsson, creative director of catering company Bartleby & Sage, says, "We suggest six passed hors d'oeuvres for a wedding of 50-100 guests, seven to eight passed hors d'oeuvres for a wedding of 100-150 guests, and up to ten for very large weddings."

"We usually suggest six to eight passed canapés for weddings over 100 and are happy to supplement with a station or two if budget allows," Nash says.

Will you have stations in addition to passed hors d'oeuvres?

Nilsson says, "I always recommend at the very least a charcuterie and artisan cheese station so guests who aren't near the passing waiters can get a little something. But no cubed cheese, please—gorgeous artisanal cheeses only."

"If it's more than 120 guests, I strongly recommend a station where it's a more substantial Tuscan Table with charcuterie, cheeses, breads, grilled vegetables, marinated olives, and such," Nilsson says, "For more than 150 guests, a second station is great, whether it's an oyster bar, paella station, or something completely customized to the couple's story like a Middle Eastern station for our Jewish Israeli couples, or a pierogi station for our Polish brides from Cleveland."


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