There are so many things to take into account when planning a wedding. After you get a general idea of how many people will come, you have to plan and order everything for the wedding. How many of each you need to order can be tricky.
You should order 10% more than the guests that have sent in the RSVP. This is to be safe and have enough of everything. Every item will have different numbers and you will be left with extras, but that is much better than not having enough of something and having to stress about it on your big day.
10% percent seems like an arbitrary number but there is thought and logic behind it. Don’t fret, reading below can help you with how many of each item to order so you won’t be stuck with 200 extra programs.
Quick Reference Guide For Ordering
|No. Guests||No. Per hour|
|No. Guests||No. to order|
|No. Guests||No. to order|
Favors & Koozies,
|No. Guests||No. to order|
|No. Guests||No. to order|
How many napkins do I really need?
A lot, even if you are using cloth napkins. You will be surprised at how many different types of napkins there are for the different parts of the wedding.
Depending on the formality of the wedding, you will have different ones for each segment. This is not a place where you want to skimp and cut costs. A wedding could get messy, these napkins are used for dinner, drinks, cake or just clean-ups.
Here are the different types of napkins and how many you should get.
Cocktail/Beverage Napkins – These are the most popular size for paper napkins for a wedding reception or party.
They are small and measure around 5 inches square. They are used for serving drinks at the bar during your cocktail and/or social hour. It is recommended 2-3 per person, per hour, depending on your guests.
If you have big drinkers or a lot of heavy hors d’oeuvres budget for 3-5 per person, per hour not for the whole wedding.
Luncheon Napkins – These are medium-sized paper napkins and more durable than the cocktail napkins.
They are usually used for brunch, luncheon wedding receptions. reception tables at each place setting or at the head of a buffet table, the sweet table and wedding cake. It is recommended 1-2 per person for the whole wedding.
Dinner Napkins – You have two options for these, either cloth or paper. The paper ones will be the largest ones for the wedding.
Again, it is recommended to get 1-2 per person for the whole wedding. Some people choose to use these napkins as well if there is a buffet. If you choose this option 2-3 napkins per person would be best. You would have 1 napkin on the table and the rest stacked on the buffet table.
Should I use cloth or paper napkins? This depends on the formalness and location of your wedding. The more formal the wedding, the more the need for cloth napkins.
The reception site may include these in the place setting, so check with them first. If you are renting the table cloths and napkins they will get the number from you and will have extras so you do not have to worry about it.
If you do get cloth, it is a good idea to still get extra paper napkins. Getting 1 extra luncheon or cocktail napkin per person will cover you in case of accidents.
Should I personalize my napkins? This a personal choice and if your budget allows it. The plus side is that it looks nice and you can match them with the decor.
The downside is that the extra ones you have after the event will be a bit out of place. If you don’t have them personalized you can reuse them for other events or even sell/give them away to someone else.
How many favors do I get? Do I need to give favors?
The 10% rule applies here too. By getting that much more it covers you in case the favor breaks, someone wants an extra one, someone who didn’t attend wants one.
A lot of times these gifts will not be used, unless you choose a very practical one. The best idea is to have a table where the guests can choose whether to take one or not (not all of them will).
It is not mandatory that you even have to give a favor, you can save yourself some worry and not get them at all.
Who doesn’t love a cold drink?
Koozies, cozy, stubby holders, whatever you call them are a great gift to give at the wedding. These are especially good for outdoor weddings and groups that enjoy imbibing.
The 10% rule applies again but for different reasons. As some people do not drink they will not want one and drinkers may one to take more than one (as long as they are of higher quality).
Putting these on a table again for people to make a choice again will save you from not getting enough. If you are a big drinker, getting, even more, could be an idea to have them around your house for parties and events.
Do I need that many programs?
No, no you don’t. This is the exception to the rule. While everything else you will want to have more than 10% or more, with programs you do not. Having around 75% to 80% for the guests that are supposed to attend will suffice. You have to take into account here that couples will be attending and people that won’t even take one at all.
These are often overlooked and either not ordered, or just supplemented with napkins. If you are having a wedding that will have a lot of people that drink, it may be a good idea to get some. If you do, you can subtract at least 2-3 napkins per person for the whole wedding. Also, these could be markers for the servers not to take away the drinks, as this happens often when people get up to dance. This could save you a bit of money on alcohol and beverages. Getting 1 coaster per person is enough.
Some venues will have you supply or buy your own for the bathrooms if they do not supply them. Having 1-2 per person is a good amount, but where you place them will be different. Having 75% in the women’s bathroom and 25% in the men’s is best. Make sure someone checks both bathroom midway to check the numbers.
Stir Sticks/ Food Skewers
If you are having a full bar these would be recommended. Getting 1 per person is going to be enough. By getting reusable ones and not cheap plastic, you will not only save the environment but your wallet.
The 10% rule goes for food skewers as well. One way to save money and resources is to use these as stir sticks as well.
Maximum 1 per person if they are printed on ahead of time if you are handwriting them get 10% extra to account for errors. To save some money, have couples on one place card use their titles instead of first names.
If you are having the event catered they will take care of this. If not, 1-3 cups per person is a safe amount. This all depends on again on what types of cups you use and your venue. More durable plastic cups you can get 1-2 per person.
Another idea is to get cups personalized and the guests can take them home after. This can save you on cups and favors. If you do this still get an extra 10% for breakage and people losing them.
What if I don’t have enough?
Plan so that this does not happen. The numbers above should cover you in almost all situations.
The most important task is to get as accurate a guest list as possible, this involves chasing up those RSVPs. If you are struggling with this, then check out my full article on the best ways to deal with late RSVPS.
If you feel uncomfortable with any of the numbers just get more. Your piece of mind is more important than a few dollars in most cases. If you are really worried, have a number of a local catering company on hand to call if a situation arises.
I don’t want the extra stuff? What do I do with it?
- Multi-Use- Can you use these napkins again? Can I sell these after?
- Pick something meaningful- For gifts choose something people will use so they take it such as locally roasted coffee, luggage tags, candles, etc.
- Donate– Give them to charity or another good cause. They may even come and pick them up from the venue for you.
- Don’t get them customized- If they are customized they cannot be repurposed or sold after.
- Sell- There is a big market online for this.
- Throw another party- You can always just use them again. Save the extra stuff for a party, it would be nice to have it on your anniversary.
- Give to another bride- Sharing is caring if you have a friend that is also having a wedding you could give it to them. Better yet share the costs of everything.
- Contact wedding professionals- Ethier locally or online you can find a professional that will probably be able to buy them from you.