A Quick Guide To Wedding Catering For Your Reception

April 7th, 2023 Wedding Ideas, Tips and Inspiration

Wedding Food Ideas - Pros & Cons of Different Styles

There’s a lot of decisions to make during the wedding planning process, one of the largest being wedding food. There are many different types of cuisine and serving styles to choose from. When talking with caterers, there is no longer just the standard options of choosing beef, chicken, fish, or a vegetarian option.

Today, wedding menu options are endless in terms of what you can serve and how you serve it! Delicious food can be one of the most memorable moments of your big day, so it’s good to know the options that are available. We go over some of our favorite ways to serve food at a reception along with some pros and cons of each style.

4 Catering Ideas for Wedding Receptions

If you’ve decided against DIY meals for your wedding day, that likely means you are going the catering route. Once you’ve made this decision, there are still multiple catering styles to pick from. Here are four popular wedding catering ideas and the possible advantages and disadvantages to each. 

1. Traditional Sit-down Dinner

A sit down meal is the most formal and used to be the most common way to be served dinner at a wedding reception. It usually consists of a three course meal including an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Guests will choose their main course prior to the reception, and then a team of servers will bring out courses one-by-one to the guests. 

Pros: This is a great option for you if you are interested in a traditional style reception. This option allows for everyone to receive their meal at the same time and there are no long lines that guests have to wait in. You can also sprinkle in activities like toasts and guest greetings in between courses. 

Cons: You can expect to pay more per plate for staffing since the execution will require more servers. The meals will be limited to certain items that will be selected in advance. If you have picky wedding guests that don't like a limited selection, this may not be the option for you.

2. Food Stations

As catering options have become less traditional, food stations have become more popular. The idea of food stations is to have different themed areas around the wedding venue where your guests can go to get a portion of their meal. This gives you, your partner, and all your guests many options to pick from which means everyone is more likely to find a meal they love.

Pros: This is often a wedding favorite because there is a wide variety of foods. It gives your guests an interactive and creative experience and allows them to eat at their own pace. Some examples of serving stations include raw bars, taco bars, carving stations, appetizer / finger food stations, BBQ bars, and pasta stations. The options are endless!

Cons: In order for this type of catering to be successful, you will need a good amount of space to spread out the stations to avoid overcrowding. This might mean a larger venue is needed. If your food stations are interactive and need a server to complete the execution, this will add costs to your catering bill. 

3. Buffet

Buffet-style is one of the most popular choices among wedding reception serving styles and consists of food stations being set up on tables where guests can walk up and serve themselves. Tables are typically released one-by-one to head to the buffet tables, and once everyone has been served, guests can start going back for seconds. You can be creative and make this indoor or outdoor!

Pros: This style of catering allows for a variety of food to be served and requires a small amount of servers to serve your guests. This can make for a great money saving option. 

Cons: Many guests do not like this option because of how long it may take to get their food. Some tables may be able to eat way sooner than others. Larger quantities of food might also need to be ordered because guests tend to take larger portions when serving themselves. This could increase the catering bill.

4. Cocktail Reception

A cocktail reception is one of our favorite catering styles because the food options are endless, and not to mention adorable! Different from a cocktail hour, a cocktail reception is where you provide hors d'oeuvres throughout the entire reception and there’s not a sit-down meal. These can consist of any bite-sized foods you like and there are a ton of ideas to match any taste. 

Pro: This idea can offer huge cost savings if you choose the right hors d’oeuvres. It can look very luxurious and still be quite filling. 

Cons: Some guests have never experienced a cocktail reception and may be expecting a full dinner meal, therefore be sure to mention it on your invitations. Guests may also drink more than at a sit down reception, so be wary of added alcohol costs

Have Fun with Your Food!

There are many other catering options available including family-style and even food trucks! Be sure to do plenty of research and find a catering style that will fit your overall wedding budget

If you choose to go more traditional with the meal, you can always have fun with the dessert portion. Aside from wedding cake, there are many creative dessert table ideas that can create a fun experience for your guests. 

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John Carston
04/26/2016 08:1
Planning for a wedding can be a very stressful thing so having a guide like this makes it all the more easy. I appreciate the advice you gave and the examples given for catering a wedding, I'll definitely need to use this advice. Thanks for the catering tips!
neha jain
12/04/2018 08:0
nice post

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