Your wedding day is an unforgettable event that you and your guests will remember for years to come. Brides want everything to be perfect, from the dress to the flowers and the music. Providing an amazing wedding meal is part of the picture of perfection, and is vital to making sure your guests have a wonderful and memorable experience at your wedding.

Planning Your Wedding Dinner

The reception dinner is one of the most important elements of the celebration. The dinner you choose will ultimately depend on your budget, the number of guests and the theme of your wedding. There are many options available, from seated and plated meals to buffets or a combination of these. Many brides who are hosting a beach themed wedding opt for cookouts, pig roasts and clam bakes, for example.

Sit Down Dinners

sit down wedding dinnerSit down dinners are often the choice of formal weddings. These dinners involve the caterer plating a meal in the kitchen and bringing it to the seated guests. Sit down dinners often include multiple courses and require a full waitstaff. Sit down dinners are great for couples who are having a reception at a catering hall or other formal venue. This option is often the most expensive option, so couples on a budget usually avoid this dining choice. On the other hand, they can be less expensive than buffets as the caterer knows exactly how much food to order.

When planning a sit down meal, there are several factors to consider. First, it is important to understand that a sit down meal will take time to serve. Your waitstaff must deliver each course in sequence and leave guests time to complete each course. This may cut into your dancing time if you have a limited number of hours to use the facility.

Buffet

wedding buffetA buffet meal option will give you lots of choice when it comes to serving your guests. If you opt for a buffet, you can provide multiple entrees and sides that your guests will enjoy. Buffets are better for smaller weddings, as lines can get long if you have to serve large parties. There is a limited shelf life for buffet food–after about two hours the food is no longer fresh or tasty. Your catering staff will have to be proactive in directing the buffet line and clearing dirty plates for your guests.

One of the downsides of a buffet at your wedding reception is that the caterer will have less of an idea of how much food to provide. There may be some who eat very little, while others who come back multiple times to fill up their plates. Because the caterer will have to take these factors into account, you may end up paying for more food than you actually need.

A buffet is great for a breakfast or brunch wedding, and works well for small events where people can serve themselves quickly.

Cocktail Party

wedding cocktail partyCocktail parties are a great choice for brides on a budget. The costs of simply serving hors d’oeuvres and drinks is a fraction of what it costs to serve a full sit-down meal. It is also a quicker option, leaving you ample time for mingling with guests. The cocktail party is great for weddings with a large guest count. Many second time brides and grooms opt for the cocktail party option, especially if they had a large wedding before.

If you are planning to have a cocktail reception, keep the time of your wedding in mind. These receptions are best held in the late evening, so that guests know to have a meal before they arrive. The cocktail reception, however, is less attractive for couples who want to enjoy the traditional reception events such as the first dance, dance with parents and grand entrance.

Backyard BBQ

backyard-wedding-bbqCouples looking for a more informal dining option may go with the backyard barbecue. This option is best for couples who are having a non-traditional wedding or are on a budget. The backyard barbecue will allow more time for simply celebrating with family and friends instead of worrying about linens, table settings and seating charts. The backyard barbecue, however, is not for the bride who wants perfection. There may be burned burgers, wayward frisbees and even an impromptu game of horseshoes. While some couples may appoint a guest to man the grill, others hire caterers to do the job. If you go this route, just be prepared to have your kitchen taken over and a steady stream of traffic in and out of your house.

Another variation on this theme is the clam bake or pig roast. These often take place on a beach, and are great for nautical themed weddings. This dinner option is best for larger weddings and is comparable in price to the buffet option. Many brides will opt for food stations, serving everything from carved roasts to stir fry and custom made desserts. Keep in mind the costs of transporting the equipment and setting up electricity when going with this option.

When it comes to serving the wedding meal that you have always dreamed about, the world is your oyster. Serve a five course meal of shrimp cocktail, endive salad, prime rib and creme brulee, or simply fire up the grill and have some burgers and dogs. From simple appetizers to champagne and truffles, there are many options for serving your guests a memorable and delectable meal.

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