In thinking about the dining options for a wedding reception, it is definitely the choice and style of the bride and groom that mandates the type of service with budgetary considerations. Most reception halls/caterers/restaurants offer various options. I will list the options and the advantages:
Duet Entrée Plate– 2 entrée choices on the main plate
PROS: 1) You don’t have to worry about providing counts of the specific entrée 2) Your only concern is the number of meals to guarantee 3) People do not have the option to change their mind about their entrée choice. 4) It looks elegant and plentiful with 2 entrées on the plate. 5) People have variety and not just one entrée choice
Cons: 1)May be a little more expensive in the beginning but, the trade off is the time, money for printing meal cards and postage for their return, and the cost and time of creating place cards with the entrée indicator on the place card, plus the nerves and worry of getting everyone’s meal choices correct without missing anyone who didn’t RSVP 2) Most of the time it even saves money because you don’t over order food to be SAFE for the people that you think are coming and didn’t RSVP.
The 2 or 3 Entrée CHOICE Plated Meal –
Pros: 1) This gives the guests options of choosing entrée for wedding reception 2) Can alleviate any dietary restrictions for meals
Cons: 1) Requires constant attention (usually by the Mother of the bride and/or the bride) with the time and expense of printing/postage of RSVP meal cards that are normally due back 3 weeks before the wedding reception. 2) It requires place cards with the name and meal indicator of entrée choice at each place setting with a seating chart 3) Often the Mother of the bride is crazy trying to assure that the correct number of meals are provided for everyone who RSVP’d. 4) It can be a nerve wracking task of calling your best friends and relatives whom you are sure are coming but did not RSVP
Buffet – lends itself well to the bride and groom who does not want to rely on the guests to RSVP their meal choices
Pros: 1) Buffets can save money in the RSVP card and postage as meal entrée selections are not necessary. 2) Only guaranteed numbers are required for buffet – no meal indicators or place cards required
Cons: 1)May cost a bit more than a “plated” meal because the food service has to offer and have enough of everything prepared without portion controls so that guests may choose whatever they like to eat from the buffet table 2) This is a little less elegant than a plated/served meal in my opinion 3) The disadvantage to a buffet is older people and parents with young children having to balance a salad plate and/or a dinner plate while moving along the buffet line 4) Sometimes the food service has to interrupt the buffet line to refresh with more items 5) Many times serving spoons/utensils fall down into the food in the chaffing dish and the guest is picking up a sticky utensil-which is my personal pet peeve on buffets 6) Or even worse, you are in line behind the Mother with 3 children under the age of 8 whom are all being asked “honey, do you want some of these green beans?” as the kids are running around the buffet table or the cake table like a wild animal screaming “I want chicken fingers with mac and cheese!!!!! And please e-mail and tell me if you have ever been to a wedding buffet with children in attendance that you haven’t seen or personally experienced what I just described. LOL!
Heavy Hors D’oeuvres
Pros: 1) No meal cards or meal selections need to be pre ordered 2) Just guaranteed numbers of guests are required 3) Usually there are many choices of food for all tastes
Cons: 1) Makes it hard to have appetizers during cocktail hour and then do bite sized food for the “dinner” portion of the meal. 2) The day of the wedding guests are traveling to get to the ceremony and reception. Many times due to flight delays, traffic, unexpected time delays in getting started the guests haven’t had time to eat all day. They come to the church or the ceremony site just in the nick of time to not miss the wedding ceremony and then head to the reception. 3) They wait an hour or so at the reception site for the bride and groom to finish their family photo session and arrive. By then the guests are ravenous. A heavy hors d’oeuvres party requires a minimum of 7-9 item selections with at least 3-4 hot offerings. The time and labor spent producing bite-sized, attractive canapés can cost more than a full course chicken dinner. 4) The first people to approach the hors d’oeuvres are not shy. I have seen hungry men pile up chicken wings like the Jenga game. The highest score I’ve personally witnessed is 17 wings on one plate. Meatballs are another hungry male’s challenge item of, how many meatballs can I get onto this small plate? My husband was one of the ravenous guests who always took 6-8 meatballs while I would tell him to wait until everyone had some and go back for seconds if food was left. He would always tell me the meatballs were his favorite and he didn’t like the little frou-frou canapés and finger sandwiches. 5) It is important to have a contingency back-up and time frame for kitchen preparing more food if you run out and the cost of adding on at the last minute
I hope this gives you some options to consider for your special day. Food is always the “main event” at the reception. Do ask or alert the food service if you have any guests with food allergies or vegetarian or vegan menu requests. Food needs to look good and taste good, with cold food cold and hot food hot and not all the same temperature. I have been to galas and events where the salad, the entrée and the dessert were all the same temperature…….not good……and even more important……not healthy! Ask for a tasting and ask questions about food temperatures at meal service for any of the above options.
Happy ever aftering,