- Food For Thought: Creating The Wedding Menu of your Dreams
- Food For Thought: How To Choose a Wedding Caterer
- Food For Thought: Wedding Menu Ideas
- Food For Thought: DIY Catering
- Food For Thought: How To Cater For Wedding Guests with Special Diets
- Food For Thought: Let’s Have A Toast!
- Food For Thought: Let Them Eat Cake!
So you’ve decided on a date, and have several caterers in mind. As you work with them to finalize your menu selection you may also want to take into consideration some of these general guidelines, based on the time of your reception.
Morning weddings are the perfect reason to have a brunch-themed reception. Usually held between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. brunch receptions focus on lighter foods than evening fare. For the budget-conscious bride this is probably one of your better options as the liquor costs are usually also considerably less than that of an evening affair. If you are going this route think of options such as a fresh juice bar, coffee, teas (black, chai, green, mint, spiced, chamomile, Earl Gray and English breakfast), smoothies, cocoa, mimosas, bellinis, bloody marys, screwdrivers, champagne and punch, as well as fruit-themed hors d’louvres before the main course.
Brunch is best served buffet-style,especially if your guest list is under 100. This may also work out in your favor budget wise. Here miniature versions of breakfast favorites serve as perennial pleasers. Whether it is mini pastelles, bake and buljol, French toast, bagels, croissants or savory waffles your options can easily be combined with your theme and location to create a true “destination” feeling.
Be sure to scope out your venue during the time of day you are planning the reception. You want to make sure that the natural lighting is adequate, and that direct sunlight is avoided.
Menu items that are trending right now as well for brunch receptions include omelette bars, frittatas, grilled vegetables, French Toast stations, crepe/pancake stations and cold, smoked meats. Feel free to incorporate culinary offerings from your, or your partner’s cultural heritage as well, by incorporating regional cuisines either wholly, or throughout the day’s items.
For the health-conscious, or those with dietary restrictions consider more than one vegetarian offering such as gourmet pizza, vegetable tarts, grilled veggie sandwiches or a hearty salad.
Afternoon weddings lend themselves effortlessly to a “tea party” themed reception. However don’t feel that you are limited to traditional British fare by the use of this term. Instead, think of theme as allowing you the creativity to plan a menu that is light and relatively short in duration, when compared to the length of an evening affair.
Usually held between 2p.m. and 5 p.m. an afternoon tea reception allows you to offer a greater selection of culinary treats foryour guests to sample, rather than selecting only two or three main dishes. This can be especially valuable for a large reception with many diverse tastes, as well as multicultural celebrations that can introduce new foods to everyone.
Because of it’s timing feel free to pick and choose from the options listed for both the earlier brunch reception and that of the evening cocktail party. This time of day is probably the most versatile and relaxed in terms of formality and expectations.
RECEPTION DAY TIPS
Louann Alexis of Trinidad’s Dessert Heaven has the following tips for prospective brides:
•Co-ordinate your servers’ attire with the color scheme of your reception.
• Serve finger foods in the period between the start of the reception and the arrival of the bride and groom.
• Let the bride and groom open the dessert table after the main courses have been served.
• A chocolate fountain is an easy way to add ambience to your decor and open up the dessert area.
• Consider including local treats such as sugar cakes, kurma and tamarind balls. Guests love them!
Of the three main wedding reception times, evening weddings are the most standard in terms of degrees of formality and guest expectations. They are almost always sit-down events with the exception of the “cocktail party” themed reception (a cost-conscious alternative for those with guest lists of over 300). In setting your menu with your caterer decide beforehand whether you will be going the plated dinner or buffet route. In contrast to the lighter stomachs of the morning and afternoon weddings, evening buffets can sometimes turn out to be costlier than plated offerings, due to multiple “trippers”. Because guests attend evening receptions with the expectation of hearty fare those who have decided to opt for a lighter menu should alert guests from the moment of the invitation by printing the phrase “finger food reception to follow” or “hors d’oeuvres reception to follow.”
Cocktail party menu options are similar in heft and theme to those of the brunch and afternoon tea reception. Popular choices include:
- Sliced breads, bread sticks, rolls
- Deli trays
- Spicy wings
- Mini quiches, stuffed mushrooms, vegetable rolls
- Tea sandwiches
- Deviled eggs
- Baby lamb chops
- Chicken satays
- Spring rolls
- Veggie tartlets
- Dim Sum
- Fruit trays with chocolate and whipped topping dips
- Fondue stations
- Individual desserts such as petit fours, cream puffs, fruit tarts
- Cupcake wedding cakes
For traditionalists who want to hold firm to the sit-down plated dinner, entertain providing 1 – 3 entree selections, along with an appetizer, salad or soup, side dishes and a dessert. Allow at least one option in each category to be vegetarian in nature. For the truly luxe bride and groom for whom budget is no limitation, food stations are the newest option which can provide delightful talking points for guests both during and after your reception. This style of reception scatters buffet tables around the reception area, each table with a different speciality of cuisine.
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