How To Plan Your Reception for A 100 People
It’s your big day and you want everything to go perfectly. A large part of how people will remember your wedding is the reception. It’s a challenge to balance the budget of your reception with your guests’ experience.
The average cost to cater a reception can vary, depending on the type of catering offered and of course, the kind of food you serve. Locking down the guest count early on, therefore, is critical to figuring out a firm budget. This isn’t always easy so a good starting place is to use the 100 guest mark if you want to get an idea of overall costs.
Should your guest list grow, you can quickly adapt the budget as well. For a dinner reception for 100 people, it will cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 and can go upwards to $10,000.
Now that is a lot of money and to maximize your budget, we’ve broken it down so you can customize it to your taste.
The type of food you serve will largely determine the budget. Of course, there’s also a wide gap in estimated prices for the food itself, depending on if you’re going with a timed, coursed meal or an all-out buffet. But a realistic overall range is around $4,000 if you include appetizers, sides and desserts, along with a variety of entree choices which we’ll break down.
Appetizers and Finger Foods – They are usually the first type of food to go if you want to cut costs, but you should take into consideration how long guests will be waiting before dinner. Most guests will eat 6 to 8 appetizers per hour. If you have a long intermission between the ceremony and reception, offer more appetizers. If you are asking people to leave and come back later, you can offer less. Keep in mind that appetizers will typically help keep your buffet cost down since guests will eat about 10% less at dinner when appetizers are served.
Main entrée – This will likely be a meat, a veggie or even a vegan option. You will want to consider all types of diet restrictions or allergies. Keep in mind that one dish may be more popular than the other. The main is, of course, going to be the part of the meal that most people remember so it’ important to put a little thought into it.
Side Dishes – The rule of thumb is four to six ounces per person for about three side dishes. There are plenty of different choices like fruit, vegetables, mashed potatoes, for example. You can always adjust the quantities as needed for additional sides.
Dessert – For weddings, cake makers usually estimate one piece of wedding cake per guest. You can decrease this number if you have other desserts like cookies, pies, or cupcakes. If you don’t like the idea of a traditional wedding cake, you can do a dessert buffet.
Non-alcoholic beverages – for drinks like iced tea and lemonade, plan on 16 ounces per person. Take into consideration that many people will be drinking alcohol and adjust as needed. To determine gallons, divide your ounces by 128.
You will also want to make adjustments for special guests such as children. They will usually only eat half what an adult will eat and are generally picky eaters.
Lastly, don’t forget to serve your vendors. Vendors such as your D.J. and photographer will be there working for you all day. While it’s not required, it’s generally good manors to have a table for vendors.
This is a great place to save, especially if you’re on a tight budget. It’s not at all uncommon to have just one drink on the house (a glass of champagne or wine) and have your guests pay for the rest. However, if you want to provide your guests will the full experience, you’ll probably run anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on how big of drinkers your guests are.
If you’d like to get a catering company handle this, though, expect to spend on average an additional $1,500 for a beer and wine bar, or up to $5,000 for a full bar. Obviously, it is a significant price difference, but it will make a big difference to your guests and will determine the quality of experience they have.
Rentals are often overlooked, but they are a necessary part of the entire event experience. You will have to consider everything from glassware to tables and linens. Some venues will throw things in like linens but you will have to ask. There’s a wide range of styles to chose from, but on average, you can expect to spend about $1000 on the full array, if not more.
You will need to figure out how many bartenders and staff you will need. Many people are tempted to cut out the number of servers, but this will impact your guest’s experience and will cause more stress. Nobody likes to wait a long time for a drink or to be stuck with a pile of dirty dishes.
If you’ve got the budget for it, traditional service will add more glamour to your event while setting up a buffet will considerably drive down costs. Another option that is halfway between full service and buffet is to have service stations.
No matter what, it’s good to have at least one server to take care of the needs of your guests even if that just means replacing buffet items or collecting empty plates. Be sure to budget approximately $25-$30 for every hour of work you’ll need them. With a standard four hour minimum, this will be at least $100, but high-end plated service means more staff and higher rates. For a guest count of 100, costs for this style could reach at least $2,000.
The Bottom Line
Adding all these elements together and averaging them out will provide you with a solid budget. We recommend that you set aside at least $5000 to budget for a hundred-person reception. Of course, expect the unexpected, and budget aside a little extra to deal with anything bound to come up and complicate matters.
You might consider hiring a caterer like D.I.C.E.D for your big day which prides itself on being a socially responsible catering company. We do weddings of all sizes and with years of experience, we have the expertise to handle your special day.