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Mastering the numbers: How to accurately cater for an evening wedding celebration

Planning and organising a wedding can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to catering for your evening wedding reception.

people playing with sprinklers

Ensuring that your guests are well-fed and satisfied is crucial to the overall success of your big day.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how to accurately cater for an evening wedding, touching on various aspects such as determining the number of guests, choosing the right type of evening food, and accommodating dietary restrictions.

Let's embark on this culinary journey to help you master the numbers and create a memorable evening wedding celebration.

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Catering for evening weddings

Evening weddings have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering a more relaxed and informal atmosphere for guests to enjoy.

However, catering for an evening wedding can be a bit trickier than catering for a daytime wedding.

The timing of the reception means that guests will have likely already eaten earlier in the day, so the food served at the wedding reception needs to be substantial enough to satisfy their hunger, but not so heavy that they feel uncomfortable.

The key to successfully catering for an evening wedding is to strike a balance between providing enough food to keep your guests happy and not over-catering, which can lead to food waste and unnecessary expenses.

Working with your caterer and providing them with the information within this blog post might help you to save on food waste, not over-spend on unnecessary quantities of food, and know what sort of quantities a typical person would likely eat when they attend a wedding.

It's important to consider the size of your guest list, the type of food you want to serve, and any dietary restrictions or preferences.

Determining the number of guests for your evening wedding

The first step in accurately catering for your evening wedding is determining the number of guests you will be serving, e.g, 50 guests or a 100 guests.

This is crucial in ensuring that you have enough food without over-catering. Start by creating a guest list and confirming the number of people attending.

It's important to differentiate between day guests and evening guests, as the former will have likely already been fed at the wedding breakfast.

Once you have a final guest count, consider adding an extra 10% to account for unexpected guests or last-minute additions. It's always better to have a little bit more food than not enough.

Choosing the right type of evening food: Sit-down meals, buffets, and more

The type of food you choose to serve at your evening wedding reception will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and the overall feel of your wedding.

There are several options to choose from, including sit-down meals, buffets, and food stations.

Sit-down meals are a more formal option, with guests being served a full meal at their tables. This is a good option for smaller weddings or for couples who prefer a more traditional approach.

Buffets, on the other hand, allow guests to serve themselves from a selection of dishes laid out on tables.

This is a more casual option and can be a good choice for larger weddings or for couples who want to provide a wider variety of food options.

Food stations are becoming increasingly popular, with guests being able to choose from various stations offering different types of cuisine, such as a taco bar or a pasta station.

This is a fun and interactive option that allows guests to customize their meals to their liking.

Calculating the right amount of food for your guests

Once you have decided on the type of food you will be serving, it's important to calculate the right amount of food for your guests. This can be a bit tricky, as you don't want to over-cater and have too much food left over, but you also don't want to under-cater and leave your guests hungry.

As a general rule of thumb, plan on serving:

  • 17kg - 0.22kg of protein per person for a sit-down meal
  • 11kg - 0.17kg per person for a buffet or food station

For sides, plan on serving 0.11kg - 0.17kg per person (sides are just as important as the main meal itself!).

If you are serving appetisers, plan on 3-4 pieces per person for a 1-hour reception, and 5-7 pieces per person for a 2-3 hour reception.

If you're looking to serve 100 guests on a budget, click here to read our post on answering that exact question.

Here are some more specific examples based on an evening wedding with 10 guests and an evening wedding with 100 guests.

  • Determine the type of meal: Before you can determine the quantities of food needed, it's essential to decide on the type of meal you will be serving at the wedding. This could include a buffet, plated dinner, or family-style meal. Each format will require different amounts of food and serving sizes.
  • Guest count: The number of guests attending the wedding will be a significant factor in determining how much food to cater, so be sure to have an accurate count of attendees.


  • For 10 guests: 40-50 pieces
  • For 100 guests: 400-500 pieces
  • If you're serving prawn cocktail as an appetiser, you would need approximately 4-5 prawns per person.

Main course

  • For 10 guests: 1.1kg-1.7kg of protein (meat, fish, plant-based protein)
  • For 100 guests: 11kg-17kg of protein
  • Example: If you're serving chicken as the main course, you would need about 0.11kg-0.17kg per person per person.

Side dishes

  • For 10 guests: 1.1kg-1.7kg
  • For 100 guests: 11kg-17kg
  • Example: If you're serving mashed potatoes as a side dish, you would need approximately 0.11kg-0.17kg per person.


  • For 10 guests: 3-4 heads of lettuce
  • For 100 guests: 30-40 heads of lettuce
  • Example: If you're serving a simple green salad, you would need about 0.3-0.4 heads of lettuce per person (1/3 of a head of lettuce per person roughly).


  • For 10 guests: 20-30 rolls
  • For 100 guests: 200-300 rolls
  • Example: If you're serving dinner rolls, you would need approximately 2-3 rolls per person (for an evening wedding, two bread rolls per person should be fine).


  • For 10 guests: Mini cupcakes: 20-30 servings
  • For 100 guests: Mini cupcakes: 200-300 servings
  • For 10 guests: Assorted cookies: 20-30 servings
  • For 100 guests: Assorted cookies: 200-300 servings
  • For 10 guests: Chocolate-covered strawberries: 40-50 servings
  • For 100 guests: Chocolate-covered strawberries: 400-500 servings
  • For 10 guests: Fruit tarts: 1-2 servings
  • For 100 guests: Fruit tarts: 100-200 servings

It's also important to consider any dietary restrictions or preferences when calculating the amount of food needed. Make sure to have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and other options available for guests with dietary restrictions. For some food ideas for vegan guests, check out our ultimate guide to vegan mobile catering on our blog.

Tips for avoiding food waste at your wedding reception

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to catering for an evening wedding is the amount of food waste that can occur. To avoid this, there are several tips you can follow:

  • Be realistic about the amount of food you need. Don't over-cater just to be safe.
  • Consider donating any leftover food to a local charity or food bank.
  • Use eco-friendly plates and cutlery to reduce waste.
  • Offer to-go boxes for guests to take any leftovers home.
  • Plan a menu that uses seasonal and local ingredients to reduce waste.

Catering options: Salads, chocolate fountains, and traditional buffets

chocolate fountain

When it comes to catering for your evening wedding reception, there are several options to choose from.

Salads are a healthy and refreshing option, and can be customized to include a variety of ingredients.

Chocolate fountains are a fun and indulgent option that guests of all ages will enjoy.

Traditional buffets allow guests to serve themselves from a selection of dishes, and can be a good option for larger weddings.

Here are some of the more common/popular wedding foods in the UK that you might want to take inspiration from:

  • Roast beef or beef Wellington: Roast beef or beef Wellington is a popular buffet option for weddings in the UK as it is a classic British dish that is both delicious and filling.
  • Salmon or other fish dishes: Salmon or other fish dishes are also commonly served as they are a lighter option that appeals to a wider audience.
  • Chicken or turkey dishes
  • Vegetarian and vegan options such as quiches, salads, and curries: Vegetarian and vegan options are becoming increasingly popular as more people are adopting plant-based diets. Options such as quiches, salads, and curries offer a variety of flavors and are also a healthier option.
  • Pasta dishes such as lasagna or spaghetti carbonara: Pasta dishes are also a popular choice as they are easy to make in large quantities and can be customised to suit individual tastes.
  • Traditional British dishes such as shepherd's pie or sausages and mash
  • Salad options including Caesar salad, Greek salad, and mixed greens
  • Bread and cheese platters
  • Dessert options such as fruit tarts, cheesecake, and chocolate truffles

Other options to consider include a hog roast, sushi station, or a cheese board for some more unique options. It's important to choose options that suit your personal tastes and the overall vibe of your wedding.

Accommodating dietary restrictions and preferences

It's important to remember that not everyone will have the same dietary preferences or restrictions.

Make sure to offer options for guests with dietary restrictions, such as vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free options. Consider labeling each dish so that guests know what they are eating.

It's also a good idea to ask guests about their dietary restrictions when they RSVP, so that you can plan accordingly. Work with your caterer to develop a menu that accommodates all of your guests' dietary needs.

Mastering the numbers for a memorable evening wedding celebration

Catering for an evening wedding can be a bit more challenging than catering for a daytime wedding, but with careful planning and preparation, you can create a memorable and delicious reception that satisfies all of your guests.

Remember to determine the number of guests, choose the right type of food, calculate the right amount of food, and accommodate dietary restrictions.

By following these tips and working with your caterer, you can master the numbers and create a wedding reception that your guests will remember for years to come.

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