Believe it or not, the food at your wedding reception is one of the most memorable parts of your wedding day. Your guests may not remember the style of the bridesmaid’s gown or the color of your centerpieces but, a good menu will leave a lasting impression.
When you select your venue, your attire and your invitations you have already made the first big decision as to what kind of reception meal you will be serving and although there are many ways to modify each of these to suit your personal taste and style, there are basically four types:
Cocktail Reception- A growing trend in wedding planning is the cocktail reception. Often it seems that the best wedding reception food is served during cocktail hour, so many couples are choosing to simply have an extended cocktail menu for their guests. This choice allows you to have many different food items to sample, and it provides a more informal atmosphere for a more casual wedding. It is crucial that you have ample waitstaff and keep the food coming. Since the sight of empty trays can leave guests wondering if that’s all there is…
Buffet – Another informal option for the main meal is the buffet. You will choose from several main courses, sides and stations, and guests will decide on what they want to eat when their table is called.If you want to provide variety for your guests, this is a good option for you as they will be able to sample several things and eat only what they want. Since it is less formal, the buffet typically allows more time for your guests to dance and mingle.This choice can also be easier on your budget because less wait staff is needed to serve your guests.
Family Style – The style of dining with the serving platters on the table so that all present can serve themselves. A step up from buffet since the guests don’t have to get up from the table and still less formal than a sit down dinner.With this you can also rest assured that guests with dietary restrictions can find something to eat by planning the menu carefully and taking their concerns to heart.Again, you will save money on the amount of servers needed but that is not the best part of this option. The bonus is that guests take only the food they eat and there is much less waste. They can sample a variety of foods and still not overindulge by having only small portions.
Sit Down– For a formal affair, the most obvious choice is a sit down dinner. The meal will be set by the choices you make with the caterer. Some couples offer choices (chicken or fish) but, that is not necessary. If you decide to accommodate special dietary concerns remember that once that door is opened , it is impossible to close. IF you find yourself with a small group of friends who have severe food allergies or medical diet restrictions, consider grouping them at the same table and accommodating them that way. Again, there is nothing that says you need to serve anything to accomodate anyone’s diet whether it is for medical or other reasons. A sit-down dinner reception relies heavily on good service to move the meal along so make sure to ask how many servers you can expect. The minimum should be one server per 10 guests but some venues stretch it to 15. Without ample servers you run the risk of the meal taking too long and taking up time that was supposed to be devoted to other things. While your guests won’t be able to walk around as much during dinner, they will get to spend ample time talking with each other at the table. Because of the extra wait staff needed this tends to be more expensive than the other options.
As for the food itself, always work with the venue. If they are famous for a certain dish, incorporate it into the menu.Whether it is a hotel, restaurant, banquet facility or caterer, ALWAYS insist on tasting the food they will be serving at your event.
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago