Anonymous writes in with this question about the evening meal:
We’re trying to figure out what to serve our guests (170 ppl) at a 4pm reception. Our budget is $1000 for the food. We don’t want our guests to be hungry but we don’t have a lot of money to feed everyone. We’re thinking appetizers-only. How would this be worded on the invitation so our guests would know?
Hors d’oeuvre receptions are a lot of fun if they’re done well. Hang on here – I’m going on a slight tangent.
My concern here is not the wording but that you’re expecting to feed 170 guests on less than 6 bucks per head. Anonymous, that’s unreasonable even if you do only appetizers & non-alcoholic drinks or go 100% DIY.
Let’s do some math here. 4 pm is close to meal time so your guests through the course of a 4-hour reception will get pretty hungry.
- You’ll need about 6 – 8 appetizers per person per hour. A 4 hour event x 6 appetizers x 170 people = 4080 appetizers.
- You can count on about 5 drinks per person during that time; 850 beverages, minimum. (5 drinks x 170 people.)
You have $1000. So, if you can work in appetizers at an unheard of cost of $0.20 per appetizer, for example, you’ll spend $816.00, which leaves $184 for beverages, about $0.21 per drink. None of this includes plates, napkins, cups, etc. This is just food & non-alcohol bev.
Please, please, please revisit your plans and budget. I know you’re on a tight budget but that’s no excuse not to treat your guests well. Perhaps a pot-luck dinner would be a better option for you? Or cut the guest list dramatically so that you can spend a more realistic amount on food and drinks.
I’m not saying this to bring you down, I’m looking out for you and your guests here.
As for wording, on the reception card or at the end of your invite wording: “Cocktail reception and dancing to follow at….” would be fine.