Choosing a Meal Style for Your Wedding Reception

4 of 11 in Series: The Essentials of Planning a Wedding Reception

The menu for your wedding reception can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be, depending on your wedding budget and the style of your party. You might want to stick to simpler dishes for an informal reception, or more gourmet treats for a formal reception.

The cocktail reception

Most weddings are followed by a cocktail reception and then a complete meal. The cocktail reception allows guests to mingle and relax before being guided into the dining room. It also allows the wedding party time to take photos — this activity often dictates the length of the postnuptial cocktail session.

Make sure to choose your hors d’oeuvres after you choose what you’re serving up for the rest of the meal so you don’t duplicate foods. Also take into account the rehearsal dinner menu. When in doubt, the wedding meal takes precedence.

Hors d’oeuvres can be passed or served at stations. Passed hors d’oeuvres should be bite-size; no knives or forks should be necessary. They are usually priced per piece, and usually between eight or ten pieces total per person should be plenty.

Hors d’oeuvres stations can be set up to eliminate people jumping waiters at the kitchen door. They also provide a natural gathering spot and can be used for foods that come in small portions but require a small plate and fork.

Buffet stations with variety

Food stations that enable you to serve eclectic and creative meals without traffic jams are very much in vogue. Instead of one or two long lines, various types of food can be had at stations set up around the room: a station each for meats, fruits and cheeses, vegetables and salad combinations.

Choosing a buffet meal will shorten your reception length by eliminating downtime between courses. While many believe buffets are the bargain option, they are at least as expensive as seated dinners. Depending on your dish selections, they could cost more. If you’re renting china, keep in mind that a setup with several stations means more clean plates, an average of three per person.

Taking your seats

In a plated dinner, the waiters carry food out on plates. The most elegant way of doing so is to have waiters carry two plates at a time and blanket the room, table by table. The main advantage of a plated dinner is that the food arrives the way it was meant to look.

People who request alternative meals (kosher, vegetarian, etc.) shouldn’t be punished by being served their main course when everyone else has gone on to the wedding cake. The best way to keep this from happening is to give the maitre d’ a list of guests and their alternative orders and table numbers as early as possible.

Many plated dinners offer a choice of entrée, something the guest indicates on their reply card. Having a thorough, detailed seating chart can make the process of serving these meals much less confusing.

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The Essentials of Planning a Wedding Reception

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