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Wedding Reception Food Options

If you’re in the midst of planning a wedding and a reception is part of the picture, perhaps you’ve waffled back and forth as to just what kind of reception to plan and how food will fit into the scheme of things.

There are a number of factors that may determine in which direction you proceed when it comes to reception food. Your budget, of course, is often the main concern and may certainly dictate your ultimate choice once you’ve priced all your options. Also, the number of people you plan to invite may have an impact on whether you go for a sit-down dinner, a buffet, or something totally different. Furthermore, the time of year may be a factor, especially if you’re considering something that will be held outdoors. Finally, the size of the space you choose for your reception may influence your decision as well.

There are pros and cons for all reception food options but the decision will be ultimately left to the couple or those who are financing the wedding.

The Buffet Dinner

Almost without exception, the buffet dinner is less expensive than a formal sit-down meal. There are several reasons for that. First of all, less personnel are involved as the staff at the venue won’t be serving, probably just busing tables, pouring coffee and water, and perhaps spooning out food at the buffet. In addition, the food choices at buffet dinners are generally less expensive as well. It’s not unusual, for example, to see filet mignon on the menu at a sit-down affair but you’ll likely not see it included in a buffet.

You will find that guests do enjoy buffets because of the array of foods available. However, there are guests that do not like getting up from the table to get their food, and elderly friends and relatives may find this a bit challenging, so the task often falls to others. On the other hand, young guests – especially children who are picky – tend to fair better with the buffet as there are more choices, so the food is less likely to be wasted.
But if you are indeed planning a casual wedding and not an after-6 pm, black tie event, this is probably a logical way to go. And if you’re friends and family members like to mingle, this is the way to do it. They won’t be stuck at the table and will have a reason to walk around and visit others.

The Formal Dinner

Many couples know that, without a doubt, this is the direction in which they’d like to proceed. Formal dinners are indeed elegant and are certainly likely to impress. Without a doubt, however, they are more expensive than buffets as they involve more preparation (plating, etc.), more wait staff, and more expensive food. But, that said, they are generally the most appropriate choice for formal evening weddings.

Elderly guests who have difficulty juggling plates from buffet to table will prefer this kind of meal as will those who are worried about spilling food on their wedding finery. However, for sit-down receptions that include children, it is preferable to offer a kids option if it’s available. A child’s taste tends not to lend itself to poached salmon or a thick, succulent steak, so if chicken fingers or a hamburger are available, opt for those choices and include them on the invitation.

Other Options

If you’re finding that both the formal dinner and the buffet are cost prohibitive, there are a few other options. For example, those with limited budgets often opt for a celebration that includes just hors d’oeuvres and wine (or cocktails). Generally, the appetizers are set up in stations around the reception hall and guests go from one to the other to sample the selections. Not only is this inexpensive, but it also gives you and your guests more of an opportunity to spend time with each other.

Similarly, you may choose to simply have a dessert buffet, which can also include your wedding cake. Small desserts can be set up around the room - similar to the hors d’oeuvres stations - or at one big table (depending on space), and coffee or tea will be included.