How Many Napkins to Order for Your Wedding

Need help calculating what kind of napkins and how many you will need for your wedding reception? Here are some helpful guidelines to follow when ordering napkins for every aspect of your wedding reception.

Cocktail Napkins

Pre-folded paper cocktail napkins measure 5 inches wide by 5 inches long and 10 inches wide by 10 inches long when unfolded. The smallest of the three most common napkin sizes (cocktail, luncheon and dinner) cocktail napkins are used for serving drinks, appetizers and desserts.

  • For serving drinks at the bar or drink station

    Plan on ordering two to three (2 - 3) cocktail napkins per guest for serving drinks since guests will normally make several trips to the bar or drink station during the reception. The bartender will place a single napkin with each beverage to absorb condensation and for drying the lips.

  • For serving appetizers

    Plan on ordering one (1) cocktail napkin per guest if serving appetizers before the main course. Not all guests will indulge in appetizers and the ones who do most likely will visit the hors d'oeuvres table only once.

  • For wedding cake and desserts

    Plan on ordering one (1) cocktail napkin per guest for the cake table and desserts table. Guests usually go up to the cake or dessert table once. Cake is typically served on a small dessert plate, therefore, a small cocktail napkin is the perfect size for serving with cake.

Luncheon Napkins

Measuring 6 1/2 inches wide by 6 1/2 inches long folded and 13 inches wide by 13 inches long when unfolded, paper luncheon napkins provide 60 percent more surface area than cocktail napkins. Not too small and not to big, luncheon size napkins provide useful option between cocktail and dinner napkins for many uses during your wedding reception.

  • For breakfast, brunch and dinner buffets

    Order one to two (1 - 2) luncheon napkins per guest if you are planning a wedding breakfast, brunch or dinner buffet. Luncheon napkins are a convenient size for carrying with silverware when guests are self-serving at a wedding buffet. Most guest will make only one trip to the buffet line.

  • For outdoor picnic-style wedding reception

    Plan on ordering one to two (1 - 2) luncheon napkins per guest for an outdoor wedding reception. Luncheon napkins are a nice size for a picnic-style reception where guests will self-serve their reception meal with ease of handling being the key to napkin sizing.

  • For cake and desserts

    Want a bigger napkin for serving desserts? Luncheon napkins provide 60 percent more surface area than cocktail napkins when fully unfolded. Plan on ordering one (1) luncheon napkin per guest for the cake and desserts table.

  • For to-go boxes or bags

    Providing to-go boxes or bags for your casual wedding reception guests to take home? Order 2 luncheon napkins per guest to put on top of or in a bag with your wedding take-out boxes.

Dinner Napkins

Measuring 8 1/2 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches long folded and 17 inches wide by 17 inches long when unfolded, paper dinner napkins provide 60 percent more surface area than luncheon-size napkins. Popular for reception table settings, dinner napkins are typically folded and placed under silver ware or wrapped around silverware and secured with a paper or ornamental napkin ring.

  • Catered Dinner

    If dinner is being served at the dinner tables, one dinner napkin per person will be sufficient. Order a few extra for later or unexpected guests.

  • Buffet or Cafeteria Style Dinners and Luncheons

    Guests may make a second trip to the buffet table or cafeteria line. Order 1 1/2 to 2 dinner napkins per guest to ensure you don't run out before your dinner party is over.

Guest Towels

Pre-folded paper guest towels (bathroom hand towels) measure 8 1/4 inches long by 4 1/2 inches wide. Commonly used in the guest restrooms or bathrooms, guest towels are placed in a hospitality basket on each sink or vanity for drying hands. Guest towels also provide an elegant, pre-folded napkin for the dinner tables.