First things first. If you are going to be serving alcohol, there has to be food served with it. So depending on the length of your cocktail hour - anywhere from 30-90 minutes - be sure that you have some sort of food available for your guests to enjoy while sipping on a cocktail. If you are trying to mind your budget, why not just go with simple cheese and crudite displays. You can skip the passed hors d’oeuvres. If you want to provide more than just cheese and vegetables, you can also consider doing a raw bar or an action station where the chef prepares something fun for your guests - like the Chowder Station from The Casual Gourmet. If you want to have food passed, we recommend that you choose at least 5-6 different hors d’oeuvres and you can count on one of each kind per person. It is always a good idea to feature meat, seafood and vegetarian options. Some Cape Cod favorites are scallops wrapped in bacon, mini lobster rolls and shrimp cocktail.
“If you and your fiance are true foodies for whom each meal is an adventure, but your family are very simple eaters, choose some exotic hors d’oeuvres and a more mainstream entree for dinner," says Olive Chase, President of The Casual Gourmet.
Station Style Dinner
Station styled dinners have become quite popular and are just a bit different than your typical buffet style dinner. Station style dinners are set-up around your reception space with different selections like a salad station, a carving station and a pasta station where chefs are usually right there preparing the food for your guests as they come up to the table. Some couples use stations as a way to turn their reception into more of a cocktail party, instead of a sitdown dinner.
A buffet styled dinner is just as you remember it - one or two long tables set-up where guests are called up table by table to serve themselves. Some couples think that buffet style dinners can be more affordable, but depending on your venue or caterer, they can sometimes be more costly due to the fact that they have to factor in for guests who take more than their share, or want seconds. So save time, it can be nice to start the meal with a served or pre-set salad so that guests do not have to get their salad at the buffet along with their dinner.
Plated meals are the most popular of choices for weddings. I highly recommend going with a three course meal - salad, entree and wedding cake. The appetizer course always seems like a waste to me, especially seeing that your guests just came off of a heavy cocktail hour and because it adds more time to the service of the food. I also recommend avoiding giving your guests a choice of a meal - like beef or fish. Why not offer a duet entree of beef and fish and if there are guests that do not like beef or fish, they can request to have just one or the other. And don’t worry - all venues and caterers will be prepared for any vegetarians and allergies, as long as you provide them with the count ahead of time.
Ask Your Caterer!
"Make your caterer your friend! Ask what their specialties are and how they will be preparing your food at the site you have chosen. Will they cook on-site even if the venue has no kitchen or bring in food already prepared? Make sure they are receptive to your food tastes and are able to produce the meal you have in mind," said Olive. If you don’t know, do not be afraid to ask! This is most likely the first and last wedding you will ever have, so be open about what you like and do not like!