"Wiggle Room" with Caterer Head Count
Our wedding is a year away so I have lots of time to figure out my headcount, but I was just curious what other people's experiences have been. Did you/do you plan to underestimate for your final head count to your caterer? We are having a stand-up buffet - no seats, no plates. How will my caterer REALLY know if my head count is 100% accurate? I feel like I will be able to give her a slightly lower number to account for children (who obviously won't be eating much or drinking period), non-drinkers and no-shows. Our price per person includes food and open bar so obviously is really high! Our guest list is growing by the day so I'm trying to estimate how much I may need to cut elsewhere it my budget.

Married: 09/10/2011
Reviews: 5
Posted On: Aug 10, 2010 at 10:00 PM • Vendors are allowed • Add to My WatchlistFlag As Inappropriate1 like

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Married: 10/03/2009
Reviews: 6
Aug 10, 2010 at 10:05 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
what is a stand up buffet? sounds...uncomfortable? is it appetizer only?
you will need to give a rough head count to get the quote, prelim at 2 weeks out, and a firm count usually 3 days before. the chef will need to know how much food to buy and prepare.

Married: 09/10/2011
Reviews: 5
Aug 10, 2010 at 10:12 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
haha I thought the same thing when I first heard the word "stand-up" but actually it doesn't mean everyone will be standing while they eat lol. Our reception is in the restaurant of the hotel, but with a dance floor we can't fit all our guests for a sit-down dinner. So we will use the restaurant, terrace, bar and lounge and people will get their food, mingle around, sit down wherever. The food is heavy appetizers, buffet like I said. Obviously the count will decide how much food is prepared, but like I said there will be kids and no-shows so I wonder if I can underestimate a little bit so we can save $$ and not waste food.

Married: 10/03/2009
Reviews: 6
Aug 10, 2010 at 10:16 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
In a word; NO. You need to account for everyone. Imagine if you ran out of food! Especially if this is at dinner time! If you are providing cocktails, it is very wise to make sure that there are plenty of places to sit or at least set plates down. It is not easy to balance a drink and food at once, while eating. You also need to inform your guests that no meal will be served on the invite, so that they can be prepared.

Married: 02/29/2012
Aug 10, 2010 at 10:54 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
over counting is ok but undercounting would stink! But I have 96 people coming (as far as I know before all the RSVP determination) So in order to get like a quote or price I just said an even 100. I have to give a final number 10 days before the wedding. But if I end up with like 88 I am just going to say 90 I know someone at the wedding will eat two servings or have seconds lol.

Married: 07/01/2012
Aug 10, 2010 at 11:16 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
Jamie I would ask your venue if a "Child" could be half price of the adult at your wedding. I asked this where we were visiting and thats actually what she said they can do. So the totals are the same but your venue knows that there are x amount that are kids. Who is a child would be up to your venue. Mine I was counting 12 and under.
Aug 11, 2010 at 12:33 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
Every caterer is different. My company is off site and small so we like to be as accurate as possible. Hotels tend to be more flexible. You need to decide a few things. What is your real budget? How many people does the room fit? Not the sign on the wall but, really fit.

After you answer these two questions, then get your quote. The other ladies are right as long as you get the numbers right in the week or two before the wedding you'll have plenty of food. Which I certainly hope you don't run out that is wrong, wrong and should not happen.

But, if you did not get a quote for the right number of guest you are going to be shocked at your finally bill. If you get a quote for 85 and 120 is the finally number that could really hurt. Particularly if that is 2 weeks from the wedding or worse on your wedding day. I don't know about you but, I couldn't come up with that much cash.

Married: 06/26/2010
Reviews: 2
Aug 11, 2010 at 7:45 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
Jamie - I'm not sure of how many people that you are thinking of as in a head count. And the Hotel will make PLENTY of food. Plus, everyone that says they are coming wont.
In my case, our wedding was on the smaller side. I had 74 people confirmed that they were a YES. I gave our venue the number of 62 plus 5 kids. We were only charged for the 67 people.
IF you decide to give them a lesser amt, dont go to low. But in most venues, if you tell them 100, you pay for 100 even if 50 show up.

Married: 2+ years ago
Aug 11, 2010 at 2:47 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
first, ask if they have child prices-may do. Mine doesnt, but under 4 eats free. Then, I can guarantee, they will ask for a separate headcount for those over 21 for the bar. No, that means you cant really account for those who just dont drink. But, they arent going to make you pay for under 21s who cant drink.
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