MSU logo - links to MSU and OAC

News Home Page

Family, Youth & Consumer News

Small black line

Serving portions help plan reception food

By Bonnie Coblentz

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Figuring out how much to serve at the wedding reception can be just as hard as coming up with a guest list, but a few tips can take some of the guesswork out of the equation.

Wedding planners know that a reception can be a significant part of the total cost of a wedding. While cake and punch receptions in a church hall are typically not very expensive, costs rise dramatically when a full menu is served.

Carmen Jefcoat, a nutrition and food safety area agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Smith County, said those planning a wedding should remember that not all the invited guests will attend the reception. To safely plan enough food for guests, count on 50 percent to 75 percent of the guest list to attend.

“If you are serving the traditional bride's wedding cake and a groom's cake or an assortment of desserts, you will not need one slice of bride's cake per guest,” Jefcoat said. “This cake will still be a focal point of the reception and the centerpiece of its table.”

A simple way to save on a reception for 150 guests is to order a decorated cake for 75 and a plain frosted cake for 50. The plain frosted cake will be a fraction of the cost of a decorated cake, and can be cut behind the scenes and served to guests along with the decorated cake.

If the bride wants a five-tiered bride's cake but is only planning on feeding 75 to 113 guests, use iced Styrofoam for the bottom or middle layer. It will look the same as the rest of the cake but not cost as much. Make sure the servers know which layers are cake to avoid cutting the Styrofoam layer.

Punch quantities have a simple rule to follow.

“If you assume your guests will drink about three 4-ounce servings of punch, figure on 10 people to the gallon of punch,” Jefcoat said. “People drink more cold beverages in hot weather and later in the day, so be sure to consider these factors when making punch.”

Jefcoat said reception planners should have 1 pound of food per person for a snacks-only reception or 1 1/2 pounds of food per person for a meal. Guests likely will eat five food items per person during the first hour, and three food items per person for each additional hour.

Plan on 1 1/2 to 2 small sandwiches per person and about 1/4 cup of dip per person. If fondue is served, one person can eat 20 1-inch cubes of bread or one-half to one-third a loaf of French bread.

A guest can eat 6 to 8 ounces of meat, fish or seafood; 4 to 6 ounces of cheese; 6 to 8 ounces of fruit and vegetables before trimming; 2 to 4 ounces of dried fruit; four cookies; and 2 ounces of dessert sauce.

All this food adds up to some sticky messes, so count on four small napkins per person per hour. Have two plates and two forks or other flatware on hand per guest. Use disposable dishes and flatware for cleanliness and to reduce the workload in the kitchen.


Released: Jan. 12, 2006
Contact: Carmen Jefcoat, (601) 782-4454


A black line that separates the body text from footer information

Mississippi State University logo
Visit: DAFVM || USDA
Search our Site || Need more information about this subject?
Last Modified: Thursday, 26-Mar-09 14:00:54
Ethics Line || Legal
Recommendations on this web site do not endorse any commercial products or trade names.

Links to MSU home page Links to Office of Agricultural Communications home page