As you begin planning for your special day, you will likely consider many ways to make it memorable for you, your family, and your guests. After all, endless hours of planning will go into what oftentimes is one of the most important days of your life. The wedding reception will likely encompass the largest block of time on the wedding day, and as a result, it tends to take-up the largest percentage of your budget and sometimes the largest percentage of your planning time.
An exquisite reception venue, a well thought out theme, and perfectly executed reception planning will certainly create a memorable event. Above all, the menu you choose—and the style used to execute it—is the best opportunity for creating something your guests will remember. To assist you in determining what style is most suitable to your overall vision, consider these three alternatives:
Formal. A formal meal may be the most appropriate option for couples envisioning an exquisite, elaborate, or timelessly elegant reception. Formal dinners are often paired with specialty linens, themed décor, and china dishes. When it comes to service, there are three options for a formal dinner (in descending order of formality): plated meal, family style, and buffet service. The type of service you choose will play a large part in the level of formality, as do your menu choices. A formal dinner consists of a full meal, many times with multiple courses. A strong entrée may be offered with several sides. Traditional meat and starch combinations work well for this, as do pasta and other Italian entrees.
Casual. A casual meal may be more appropriate for couples hoping for a more relaxed atmosphere. Buffet service is oftentimes chosen for casual dinners, or a light lunch, brunch, or dinner may be offered. A themed menu works well for a more casual event. Pulled pork sandwiches and a variety of fresh salads might be nice options for an outdoor summer wedding, whereas a taco bar would work well for a laidback fiesta theme.
Hors d’oeuvres. A hors d’oeuvres reception can be formal or informal depending on the menu items and the style of service you choose. For more formal hors d’oeuvres receptions, trays of delectable finger foods, such as skewered meats, could be passed by servers in crisp white shirts and black bowties while a variety of other items could be displayed on an overflowing buffet. A more casual alternative would be to provide simple snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables and dip, or assorted cheeses and crackers and allow guests to casually eat at will.
Ultimately, memorable menu and service options are endless. A professional caterer will be able to offer suggestions for menu items that pair well with your theme, the time of day, your style, and your overall vision. With a little brainstorming, research, and professional advice, you will be able to offer your guests something that is meaningful to you as a couple and an experience they will remember for years to come. Bon appétit!