One important reason to have your wedding guest list finalized and a general idea of how many people to expect in attendance is so that you can be sure to be prepared for the reception! And we don't just mean the food 😉. Personalized details will complete your wedding theme beautifully while also adding a unique touch you and your guests will love.
But when it comes to ordering wedding napkins and stocking the reception bar with all the proper barware, how much will you need? As experts in the field, here are our
Barware Ordering Guidelines for Your Wedding Reception
We recommend 2-3 per person per hour. This could increase a (or decrease) a bit, depending on your guests. Order more if you have a big drinking crowd or heavy hors d'oeuvres.
Tip: If you are having a bar and serving passed appetizers you will want to make sure you give both the venue and the caterer napkins to use when serving. Be sure to ask for any unused napkins to be returned so that you can bring home to use.
Traditionally used for the sweet table and wedding cake. You should plan on ordering 1-2 per person for the event.
Tip: Other uses are for casual parties and home use. I use them in my home for every day serving as I think the size is best for this. If you do not have cake boxes or bags for guests to take home goodies, they will use these napkins to wrap up yummies so make sure to order extra.
We suggest 1-2 per person. If you are having a buffet, you'll want to order more per person so each place setting has a napkin, as well as an extra stack on the buffet table.
Tip: Linen Like Dinner Napkins are a great choice for more formal or festive home parties, and they make your cleanup much easier!
At a venue, we suggest 1-2 per person. For a home party, we suggest 1 per person—as you probably have cloth towels in your powder room!
Tip: Put ¾ of your guest towels in the ladies room and ¼ in the men's room. Sorry to say, men won't use them as much as women will! Have a trusted male guest check half-way through your party and if a large stack remains, give some to a woman to replenish the ladies room.
Unless you plan to put a coaster at every place setting, order a smaller quantity than you have guests—especially if you are ordering cocktail napkins. Custom coasters are also great on a cigar bar or other traditional “man” area at the reception. Like personalized cocktail napkins, any leftovers are fun (and sentimental!) to take home to your newlywed home bar.
Tip: Try “Don't take my drink I'm dancing” coasters at each table for guests to place over their cocktail so servers do not remove their drink! This small investment could save you tons in unfinished cocktails being thrown out! We also love coasters used as an informal guest book—try our “Advice for the Newlyweds” coasters and find a creative way for your guests to display them and collect later.
We suggest one per person if you are having a full bar. Less if you have heavy beer and wine drinkers!
Tip: Stir Sticks can also be used as food skewers or cut down to adorn cupcakes!
The actual amount of cups you'll need is a little tricky. Our plastic personalized cups are reusable and can double as custom wedding favors for guests to take home. However, you can't assume someone won't throw the cup away and need a new one their next trip to the bar. What you are serving will also affect the number of cups you need. Consider 1-3 cups per guest with these variables in mind.
Tip: Another point to remember is the size cups you'll need — ice, foam and bubbles will need to be accounted for! See our chart below for a reference on what size cups to order for your wedding reception bar.
One per person if each guest will have their own or less if couples will share a place card (Mr. & Mrs....) ! We see this mistake made all the time.
Tip: Be sure to order extras for errors when doing calligraphy and last minute changes or additions.
A formal party will have a menu at each place setting
Tip: If you want menus, which look great, a fun less expensive option is to get 2 or 3 per table and use with a coordinating stand or holder for people to pass.
We suggest one per person either handed out when guests walk into the ceremony or one placed on each seat.
Tip: If your ceremony has an unusual twist or guests need “help” understanding, this is a good place to explain what is going to happen. It is also the appropriate place to thank people or mention dearly departed family.
Goodie Bags/Candy Bar Bags
We suggest one per person. And a cute addition is to tie them up with a personalized gift tags!
Tip: Couples may share one bag so you can probably do less if you have mostly adults but more if you have lots of children!
Out of Town Welcome Bags
We suggest one per room, not one per person! We like to fill ours with items that are unique to the city/region/theme of your event. Also make sure to include a hand-written note as well as an itinerary of events, locations and phone numbers.
Tip: If your hotel can assign rooms ahead of time, you can also provide a room list of other out of town guests. These can get expensive to fill so be creative!
Other important custom items you need for your wedding? Cocktail napkins, swizzle sticks, candy bar bags and more. From wedding napkins to cocktail stirrers, custom barware at your reception is all the rage and will add to the memories you'll never forget!