With the anxiety of the ceremony now behind you, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the company of your friends, family and new spouse at your reception. Ideally, the reception will go smoothly, the food will be amazing and the guests will leave with smiles on their faces.
In order to ensure that the event is everything you imagined, keep your eyes wide open when you make your initial catering decisions. One of the stars of the wedding reception (bride and groom aside) is the food; and we all hope for a flawless performance. Style, presentation and taste are everything. Know your options!
Wedding Catering Near Me
The wedding caterer you choose may have catered events at your selected reception location before and may be able to assist you with information about serving styles that have been successful in the past. Determine the level of formality you want for your reception; it will serve as an outline for your caterer to work from.
Here is a basic overview of the major catering service options available through most weddingcaterers:
Buffets & Food Stations
Recently, due to form and function, food stations have replaced the traditional buffet. With the food station setup, different foods are displayed at individual tables, rather than the long table of a traditional buffet. This arrangement eliminates the bottleneck of people clamoring for the same food stations at the same time. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that buffets and food stations are a cheaper option than formal sit-down meals.
Because of the labor involved in creating the various foods at the food stations, rather than one standard main course with sides, the price per guest cost can skyrocket very easily. To keep the cost down, ask for a price breakdown per menu item based on the number of guests you expect.
Don’t forget to ask if the condiments, garnishes and relishes are included in the per guest total or if they are extra, otherwise, you might be in for a surprise when you are given the cost estimate.
Stations can vary from the traditional, such as carved meats, side dishes (rice, potatoes, pasta) and vegetables, to the more eclectic such as sushi, crepes, or stir-fry. Some people treat their guests to elaborate dessert stations that feature anything from make-your-own sundaes, to imported chocolates, to an assortment of cheesecakes. Feel free to be creative with your food choices, but keep in mind that creativity can sometimes be expensive.
One easily overlooked cost to consider with food stations is the rental of plates. With various stations, guests may use more than one plate. Discuss this cost with your caterer to determine whether this will be an issue.
We know what you’re thinking: the dreaded rubber chicken dinner. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Wedding caterers today are keenly aware of people’s aversion to food that appears to be mass-produced. The goal is to have food that looks freshly made and individually prepared. Make sure your desire for a beautifully presented meal is communicated clearly to the caterer.
Get a timetable from the caterer that lists what courses are served and when; this will prevent the table from being cleared too quickly and risking guests missing courses. Make sure that the service is not rushed, you don’t want to give the guests the impression that they need to inhale their food. In addition to the timetable, ask to see a presettable so that you can get a clear image of what your guests will encounter when they arrive at the reception.
If you have guests with special dietary needs, give the caterer this information along with their table number. Once again, make sure that this special request is listed in your estimate and so that you will know exactly what Cousin Louise will be served. Just because someone is a vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean they want a plate of steamed vegetables while your other guests are enjoying gourmet delights.
Cocktails And Hors d’oeuvres Only
There are a variety of reasons some couples choose to forego the customary route that includes a full meal. This could range from not wanting a traditional reception to price considerations to a desire to do something different.
Whatever the reason, the reception doesn’t have to be any less memorable, but you will have to be creative. For this type of reception, look at having it last from two to three hours. If the reception will be longer than this, make sure your guests are well-fed and entertained.
A cocktail service should include passed trays of food as well as small stations with finger food. Be sure to have plenty of napkins, plates, cutlery, and seating on hand to avoid messy dining. Be clear in your invitation that the reception will include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres only.
You don’t want any guests making hasty exits in order to have a “real” meal at nearby dining establishments. The reception’s finale will be the cake-cutting ceremony and coffee service, which can be supplemented by after-dinner drinks and petits fours.
Teas, Breakfast, Brunch, And Lunch
There is a wide range of reception styles for those wed early in the day. Lunches are the most popular of the daytime wedding catering services. A daytime reception can be as formal or informal as you like. Once again, the menu is up to you; popular items to serve for a tea reception include canapés, finger sandwiches, tea, scones, pastries and a variety of cheeses. Breakfast and brunch menus can feature french toast, mimosas, omelets, and smoked salmon or whatever appeals to you.
When your guests look back at your wedding reception, take it as a compliment if they recall more clearly what they ate rather than how beautiful you looked at having your first dance. After all, food has been the center of community life for centuries and will continue to be for many to come. Consider this your contribution to food history.