Using the Right Silverware and Plates at Your Wedding

A wedding requires a lot of planning and work, and brides and grooms, and their families, often call upon a wedding planner to help them out, as there is a lot to juggle. The venue, the guest list and their seating during the reception, the level of formality, the caterer, florist, photographer, transportation, and more will have to be considered, and where the reception is concerned, the silverware and glassware is a factor that can be tailored to fit the wedding’s level of formality, the budget, or even the sheer number of guests. Wedding paper plates, for example, may be an economical alternative to china if need be, and elegant plastic cups and paper dinner napkins can work great for some weddings. When are wedding paper plates best, and when are brides and grooms better off using metal and china supplies for the wedding lunch or dinner?

On Weddings and Meals

The reception lunch or dinner is an aspect of a wedding that will require a lot of work, from setting up all the tables and chairs to arranging who will sit where all the way to the meal and drinks, not to mention the tablecloth, the table decorations, and what materials will be used for drinking vessels, plates, and cutlery. Most often, major factors here will be the wedding’s budget, the number of guests, and the level of formality, and these together may dictate whether fancy china or wedding paper plates would be a better choice.

Speaking generally, new brides and grooms should be aware that the average budget for an American wedding totals up to $35,329, and different weddings may vary on cost based on location (city, state, and the venue itself), as well as the number of guests and what kind of decorations are used. A ballroom wedding in Manhattan, for example, is likely to cost much more than a rustic barn wedding in Kansas. As for the meal itself, a major factor is the number of guests and how much material to provide for them, from the tables and seats to the cutlery and plates. On average, 136 guests arrive at a modern American wedding, but the numbers may vary here too; a more intimate wedding may have a guest list of 50 people or below, while a more extravagant wedding may have a guest list that tops 300 people, and they all need somewhere to sit and eat. How can these logistics be figured out?

Better Homes and Gardens, for example, advises that party planners for any event, weddings included, should prepare for providing each guest with two non-alcoholic beverages for the event’s first hour, and one for each hour beyond that. In warm weather, such as an outdoor beach wedding, this number may be even higher, and given how weddings are most often done in June through September, this may more often than not be the case for a wedding reception lunch or dinner. What is more, planners are advised to provide enough drinking vessels, and in the case of disposable cups, 75 for each set of 25 guests is a good starting point. Similarly, disposable plates, such as wedding paper plates, should number three per guest. The same may be true for napkins.

What about wedding silverware and napkins? If a wedding is only semi-formal or semi-casual, and/or if the guest list is very long, it may both tonally appropriate and budget-friendly to invest in mainly paper and plastic for the reception lunch or dinner. Wedding paper plates and plastic wine glasses, for example, are a practical choice for a larger, semi-casual wedding that has a relaxed tone and a large guest list, such as 200-250 individuals, and the same can be said about plastic cutlery like forks and spoons, and the napkins can be simple paper napkins. For a more formal wedding or a smaller one, regular metal cutlery, china plates, cloth napkins, and glass drinking vessels may be better. They are to be expected at a more formal event, and in a smaller wedding, the supply needs are low enough so that the budget may allow such things rather than wedding paper plates or plastic wine glasses for the reception meal.

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