You have just married the man of your dreams, and now it’s time to get to
the bottom of what’s on everyone’s mind – the food!
The debate has raged on for centuries about what to feed your guests at a
wedding reception, and there are no right and wrong answers.
| There are advantages and disadvantages to a sit down dinner and a buffet meal.
Or maybe you are looking for
something a little different that might make everyone happy.
With so many options and so much to consider, you may feel a little overwhelmed.
Getting right down to it, the most formal weddings almost always have a sit
down meal served at the reception.
A formal affair most often begins with a cocktail hour, followed by a
multi-course meal. In the instances of a sit down dinner,
you will send your guests a card with their wedding invitation, and they will
need to indicate on the car their choice of entrée
from the selections you and your caterer have decided upon. There is usually no
flexibility in this type of menu.
A caterer will prepare the number of each entrée requested, and they will
generally be unable to accommodate last minute changes.
A buffet meal is generally considered a less formal type of reception meal. A
buffet reception can also start with a cocktail hour,
but instead of wait staff serving your guests at their tables, the guests
help themselves to the items you have chosen for your buffet.
Depending on the number of guests and the formality of your affair, you can
assign tables or let guests sit where they choose.
The biggest advantage to the sit down meal is to guests with special needs. If
you plan to have a large number of elderly, very young,
or differently able guests at your reception, you may want to choose a sit down
meal just for the practicality. It can be quite difficult
for someone to have to balance a dinner plate and a drink, or a dinner and
A sit down dinner is much easier to plan for, especially if you or a family
member is preparing the food.
Because you will know in advance exactly how many portions of each food item you
will need, there is no waste
and there is no risk of running out of something. The sit down meal avoids
lines, so your guests remain relaxed at their tables;
and this type of meal encourages people to spend time talking with the other
guests seated at the table with them.
The buffet, while less formal, is the preferred reception meal for a lot of
wedding couples. Most caterers charge less for
a buffet meal because they do not require the number of staff that a sit down
meal requires. The buffet also allows you to
serve a wide variety of foods, offering guests options of sampling multiple main
courses. A buffet meal gives you more room to
consider special dietary needs. You can choose a red meat, a fish, a
chicken, and a vegetarian entrée, and then offer a selection
of salads and side dishes that allows your guests to pick and choose the
type of meal they want.
As an alternative to the traditional buffet to alleviate lines and waiting,
consider food stations. Guests can still go up and help
themselves to whatever they’d like to eat, but you could have a salad bar,
a pasta station, a carving station, and a dessert bar.
That spreads the guests out so that everyone is not in line for the same
thing at the same time. It also encourages guests to mingle.
Another idea that has gained in popularity recently combines a sit down meal
with a buffet. Guests might be invited to a salad bar,
a soup station, and food stations that feature bite sized samplings of ethnic
cuisines; and then they would be escorted to their tables
for the entrée portion of the meal. For many weddings, this takes the
place of a traditional cocktail hour.
Instead of butlered hors d’oeuvres, guests visit the various stations on their
own, again eliminating the need for extra wait staff.
This also gives the guests more time for dancing and socializing, since
all but the entrée and dessert courses are served during this “cocktail hour”.
Whether you choose a sit down meal or a buffet reception, keep in mind guests
with special dietary considerations.
Allow for some special requests to be made, and try to have foods that
most of your guests will be familiar with.
Ensure a happy crowd at your wedding with good food, a few familiar choices, and
a couple of unique tastes.
If everything tastes good, it really won’t matter to most people whether
they were waited on or helped themselves.
The choice is yours!