How Many Hors d’Oeuvres Do I Order?

One of the most common questions asked by brides and grooms is, “How much food is enough?”  Before I can answer that question, there are some variables to take into consideration:

-Are the hors d’oeuvres a meal or a snack?
Guests will expect more when hors d’oeuvres replace the meal

-How many hours?
Guests eat the most in the first 90 minutes

-Mostly adults or children?
Younger guests will eat more than older guests

Here is a break-down to help you plan your party…

Light hors d’oeuvres one hour before dinner
5-7 pieces per person

Light hors d’oeuvres two hours before dinner
10-12 pieces per person

Hors d’oeuvres to replace a meal
20 pieces per person

How many types of hors d’oeuvres to serve?

50 guests – 3 or 4 kinds different types

50-100 guests – 5 to 7 different types

100-200 guests – 7 to 9 different types

200 or more – 10 different types

These numbers might seem large, but always consider how many people will show up early enough to your reception to have hors d’oeuvres.  And remember – full guests are HAPPY guests!

Happy Planning!


The Best Way to Get Back RSVPs

No matter what you do, there will always be family members and friends who will never send back the RSVP…either it was lost, forgotten, or they just didn’t think it is necessary.  They are usually the people who show up without sending in the RSVP or calling the day before in a panic because they just remembered…. Classic!

The best way to avoid as many of those problems as possible is to give your guests more than one option to RSVP.

You do not need to list all the options on your invitations, but you should make if very clear an RSVP is mandatory (give a cut-off date).  You can provide multiple ways to RSVP and list them on your wedding website.  Some websites (like The Knot) will allow you take RSVPs on their website. Here are a list of ways you might want to consider using:

*CAUTION* some ways of RSVPing might miss out on critical information like meal choice, so take that into consideration and choose appropriately based on the type of wedding you are having.


1) Mail In

2) Add phone and email to invitations and/or wedding website for fast RSVP

3) Wedding Website – i.e. The Knot, eWedding, mywedding  (*might not accept meal choices)

4) RSVP Online manager (

5) Twitter or Facebook page

6) Give incentive for RSVPing – i.e. every RSVP receives a drink ticket or a special gift

Hopefully this will help you avoid calling up your Aunt Betty and verifying that she will indeed be at your wedding (with her bird cage hat and all).


Down-Time In Between the Ceremony & Reception?

Join us in the celebration of marriage between
Sara Smith & Ryan Brown

Ceremony – 1:00 PM

Dinner – 6:00 PM

Dance – 8:00 PM

What happens between 2:00 and 6:00 ???

You know the wedding party will be taking photos, bar-hopping, or whatever else the wedding party does before dinner, but what about your guests?  If your reception does not immediately follow the ceremony, you will want to consider giving your guests something to do while they wait for you (especially if you have a lot of out-of-town guests).
The first place you will want to check is if your reception hall will allow you send your guests there before dinner.  You might want to consider hosting an hors d’ oeuvre and cocktail reception at or near the same place you are having your meal.  Food and drinks will keep your guests happy.
If your reception hall will not be able to accommodate an early arrival of guests, check out local bars or restaurants that have a large space to accommodate your guests.  It is nice to have a place where food and drinks can be provided for your guest, whether you pay for them or not.
You should consider giving your guests an activity to do while they wait.  Choose activities based on your crowd: decks of cards, yard games, music, coloring books, or just alcohol will do in some cases.
Just one more way to make your big day even better ❤ 

DOs & DONTs: Place Cards & Meal Choices

Place cards are cute and all, but when you actually need to use them to distinguish meal choice you have to keep in mind their purpose: showing the meal choice.  The room is most likely going to be dim and those servers need to move fast.  In order to make place cards that actually serve their purpose, there are a few things to know.

3 Basic Tips:
-Do the pre-work 
-Choose your method 
-Keep it SIMPLE


It is important to get your guests’ meal choices on the RSVP.  You do not want to get an RSVP back with “Yes, we will have one steak and one chicken”….you will never know who is eating what.  Make and note and leave space for each guest to initial or write their name next to their meal choice.  Once you have a meal choice for each guest, you can move on.

Designate the meal choice:

1) ICON Example: a pig for pork option *Make sure the icon is large enough and on a top corner of the card 2) COLOR CODE Example: pink for beef, green for vegetarian *Make sure when choosing colors, they are different enough to be distinguishable in low light 3) WRITE IT OUT (you cannot go wrong with this) Example: Bistro Steak or C for chicken Simplify

By doing the pre-work, you will eliminate a lot of headaches as your big day gets closer.  Your reception hall will want to know how many of each meal to make and they will require you to tell them in advance.  By clarifying and simplifying your RSVP cards and place cards, you can make life easier for you, your guests, and the reception hall. 

If you do not plan on making your place cards completely from scratch, here are some good references to purchase printable place cards: *My Favorite*


So you made your guest list…Now how many people will show up?

One of the hardest parts about planning a wedding is figuring out how many people will show up.  There are certain factors which can affect your count…holiday weekends, out-of-state guests, or maybe you decided on Friday wedding.  The best way to figure out your numbers is to put together your guest list.  This is probably the most tedious and stressful part about the wedding, but once it is done you will feel much more free!  Here are some guidelines to help you out:

Saturday Weddings – 30%

On average, you can plan on about 30% of your invitations to be declined.  If you invite 350 guests, you could expect 245 guests – not based on any other circumstances.

Friday Weddings – 20%

Fridays have a little twist to them…you would think less people would show up, but in reality more people usually attend Friday weddings than Saturday weddings.  You can plan on about 20% of guests not attending a Friday wedding – not based on any other circumstances.

In general, people are more likely to attend a Friday wedding reception because after your event, they have the rest of the weekend to look forward to.  Saturday and Sunday are still free and your wedding might a reason to take off of work on Friday.

Sunday/Weekday Weddings – 30%+

Other days of the week are less predictable and most likely less attended than Friday and Saturday weddings.  Attendance will depend on the normality of the day to your family and friends and what can be expected from them.

Holiday Weddings

To help get a good number… ask yourself these 3 questions:

1) Does your venue/ locale offer something special for the holiday weekend?

2) Do your guests have the economic capacity to take this trip during a holiday weekend?

3) Would this make it EASIER vs. HARDER for my guests?

The highest attended holiday-weekend weddings include lots of excitement (i.e. Fourth of July fireworks), not an extreme amount of money to travel (don’t want your guests to take out a second mortgage to fly out), and convenience (i.e. doubles as a regularly planned family reunion).


Now you have a good starting point.  After that, you can make some tweaks based on your personal guest list.

1) Pin-point guests who you know will FOR SURE attend and those who will FOR SURE NOT attend and make the adjustments to your list.

2) Ask other members of your family who have planned a wedding in your relation… they can tell you which guests were able to make it and which ones were not.

What helps?

Send out Save the Dates!  It is a great way to get a feel from people and some people will right out tell you they cannot make it.  You can also use it as a chance to tell your guests about any accommodations you have.  The sooner they can book their hotel room (if needed), the sooner you will receive guest counts.

Remember, you will always have a certain number of people who do not RSVP and maybe even who up without an RSVP.  Do yourself a favor and call them first.


5 Invitation Tips to Make Your Life Easier

Yes, there is proper etiquette when it comes to sending out invitations and all sorts of fancy fonts… but you can Google that.  What’s really important, is how to make your life easier for you and your guests by remembering a few key additions:

1) Add a visual timeline
A timeline people can hang onto the day of or post on their fridge is much more beneficial than the invitation that is crowded with calligraphy and fancy words.  Either add this to the top on your formal invitation or include it as a separate card in the envelope… maybe even make it into a magnet.

2) Children or No Children
If you are inviting everyone and their kids, make sure to include a choice of a children’s meal on the reply card.  If you do not want guests to assume their children are invited or only certain children, make sure you DO NOT add a children’s meal choice on ALL the reply cards.  If you address the invite to “Mr. & Mrs. Sommer” and not “Mr. & Mrs. Sommer and Family”, you will almost certainly get a phone call from them asking, “I see a children’s meal on the reply card…are the kids invited too?”.  AHHHH O NO!  Then you have to explain to them how only certain kids are coming and not theirs…what a mess.

Avoid most of those inquiries by only adding a children’s meal choice with the invites who have children who are invited.  It might seem like a lot of extra work, but it is well worth it.

3) Include postage on the reply card
Not only would it appear to be tacky, you might not get many replies back.  Make sure to budget for the extra couple hundred dollars in postage for the reply cards because you might be shocked after you spend all that money on your dream invitations.  Most people will assume postage is added and drop it in the mail without even checking.  This creates a chance for reply cards to be lost or returned and never re-sent…then you will have 50 extra people show up who RSVP’d, but you didn’t know.

4) Make meal choices clear, but not too clear
If you decide to offer plated meals, remember to have guests let you know which meal they would like so you can mark the place cards accordingly.  You do not need to tell them you are having “Seared Sirloin with a light demi-glaze and a side of asparagus and twice-baked garlic potatoes”…just tell your guests it is BEEF!  You will avoid endless phone calls asking what you mean by “demi-glaze” and if they can get chicken strips instead.

What you should do is allow for a place to:
-accept or decline your invitation
-initial or circle a meal choice for each guest invited

5) Most importantly…  DO NOT include registry information with the formal invitations
As much as you would like people to know where they can buy you all sorts of goodies, it is rude.  Call me old fashion, but a wedding is a celebration of love, not gifts and money.  You should be happy to be blessed with your guests’ presence and you do not want them to think anything other.  Registry information should be common knowledge to your bridal party and they can spread the word, posted on your wedding website, or only spoken of if asked.  If people really want to know, they will ask.

Hello Wedding World!

This blog is meant to funnel creativity, pass along new trends, and answer all your questions from what color napkin to choose to how can you tell your friend she cannot be a bridesmaid.

The Radisson Paper Valley Hotel is in the heart of Downtown Appleton and full of new life.  We are here to help you plan the best day of your life and make it as painless as possible.  We will post weekly tips, trends, and references to create your ultimate wedding guide.


-Radisson Paper Valley Wedding Team