Wedding Reception Menu Planning Ideas

The time an effort that you devote to your wedding reception menu depends entirely on the type of wedding reception that you are organizing.

A memorable wedding menu fits in perfectly with the style of the reception and entertaining, from a wedding buffet to cocktail snacks or the grandest dinner party.

The sections below will give you a guide for planning refreshments to suit all occasions.

Creating the Perfect Wedding Reception Menu

  • Wedding table setting with menu.
    The style of the menu must reflect the impression given on the invitation. For example, if you plan buffet, the food must live up to the occasion, bowls of nuts and chips with a few salads will not do.
  • Make sure the menu fulfils its intended role. If your guests are invited to a meal, don't just give them light snacks.
  • The wedding reception menu should be made up of dishes that are convenient to serve and eat in the circumstances of the party.
  • For example don't serve food which requires a fork and knife at a cocktail party where finger food would be more appropriate.
  • The presentation, taste, texture and color of all the dishes, should all be palatable and visually pleasing. These characteristics should also flow throughout each course.
  • Consider the venues kitchen facility and equipment, and plan a menu that will not overstretch either of these. Catering Your Own Wedding will give you information on what to look for when selecting a reception venue.
  • Select dishes and quantities which you know that your helpers can handle with confidence.
  • Think about preparing some dishes in advance and freeze.
  • When you are catering for a large number of people you may have to take into consideration some special dietary needs.

Wedding Reception Menu Style

Next you will need to decide on what style of reception that you would like to have. Here are a few suggestions:

1. A Formal Buffet

A buffet is practical for a large wedding and formal parties. The buffet may consist of hot or cold food or a combination of both. Canapés or hors d'oeuvers can be served beforehand. Preferably the buffet should consist of a choice of fish, poultry and meat dishes accompanied by a large range of salads and vegetables.

It is usual to serve only the main course and no appetizer. The buffet is then followed by dessert.

The guests can be seated at formal dining tables, in which case the buffet can include pies roasts and other foods which can be eaten with a fork and knife.

If there is limited seating you are best serving foods that can easily be eaten with a fork.

You may like to hire some waiters and waitress to help serve the food and clear the dishes between courses.

2. Formal Dinner

Serve your guests good quality bought or home-made appetizers with drinks before dinner. The meal can consist of four or five course, or more.

Avoid serving supper dishes and one pot-dishes. It is acceptable to serve food in smaller portions throughout the meal.

If it is a very formal dinner party consider hiring waiting staff.

Show the staff the facilities beforehand and discuss the menu requirements with them in detail and provide them with a guest list with any special notes relating to serving requirements.

The simplest formal dinner party menus should include soup or a first course, a main course and dessert and cheese.

A light appetizer or a fish dish may be served after the soup or a refreshing sorbet may be served between the first and main courses.

3. Informal Dinner Parties

Informal dinner parties usually consist of three or four courses. The first course may be an appetizer, salad or soup and the main course is followed by either dessert or cheese or both can be offered. These parties can feature a more extensive menu even though the general feel is very casual.

4. Supper Parties

One or two course may be sufficient and the food can be very simple. The term supper indicates a causal approach to the evening.

5. Cocktail Parties

A cocktail style wedding reception is great when you have limited seating and don't want to have a very long reception.

Canapés or horsd'oevres, snacks and dips are the usual refreshments. These should be severed as bite size pieces to be eaten with the fingers. Any messy food should be served on cocktail sticks.

6. Afternoon Tea

This is great for a casual style reception it can be simple or elaborate. Guests can either be seated in easy chairs with plates on their knees and cups on occasional tables, or they can be seated around tables.

The wedding reception menu food can be as simple as sandwiches and cakes or with more elaborate dishes such as quiches, pastries, cold meats, cakes, biscuits which can be served buffet style.