What Menu Option Works Best For Your Wedding?

When i first got married in what seems like a hundred years ago, I bucked the system in my small upstate NY town and had finger foods for the menu.  We had a very small wedding and when i think back, I’m sure most of the guests were wondering when dinner would be served.  Without much guidance, I had chosen that menu because it was cheaper and we didn’t have a lot of money.

My second wedding was in my home on New Year’s Eve and we thought it would be more fun to have a catered buffet and a party after, ringing in the midnight hour with friends and drinks.  I mean…who was eating anyway?

Fast forward to years later and I am now catering weddings.  Who would have thought?  What kind of perspective or knowledge to I have to give a potential wedding client?   Well, here are my thoughts on what and why and the reasons of.

Sit down dinners.  Not my choice.  Ever.  Although it really is one of the most budget friendly options, I do not like the idea of sitting at one table for a couple of hours talking to the same people you were fortunate enough to be paired with.  Typically it’s a chicken or beef selection and it’s dry or cold.  And although I’m there for the bride and groom, let’s face it… i’m also hungry, so I’d like it to be eatable.  Even the most efficient kitchens logistically cannot serve over 100 meals at the same time and keep everything hot.  

Family Style dinners.  This is a little better than sit down but not far off.  You not only get the privilege of sitting with the same people but now you can also pass bowls of food around.  This is great for very small groups of people but in the end you’re just getting cold food… just in bigger bowls.

Buffet dinners.  This still is not my favorite but better than a sit down.  You still have your table and fun table-mates but you at least have choices with this meal and can get up and have more food if you wish.  My problem with buffets (and only because I’m a little OCD) is the fact you still have a lot of people digging in the same container for their food and that is just not something that I like.  It’s like bulk food for the masses and it all kind of looks brown.  But variety, warm temperature and abundance is a plus.

Stations and Hors d’oeuvres.  Now we’re talking!  I love these ideas because you have so many options available! (This is probably why I chose to specialize in this category!) You can accommodate so many different tastes, dietary restrictions and budgets in one fell swoop and the possibilities are endless.  I’ve seen donut stations, pasta stations, salad stations and if you combine those with one or two bite size finger foods, you have a menu that will give guests something for everyone.  Plate it well and it will not only please the palate but also the eye. Remember, you always eat with your eyes first!   You really are only limited by your imagination and your wallet but the nice thing is, you can usually find some fun ideas to fit into either of those catagories, no matter what.

I know this is about what I like and what I’ve seen works best, but it’s really about you and your wedding and what you want for your menu.  Think about how you want the vibe to be and your tastes.  Think of the dietary restrictions you have to account for. This is nothing new but hopefully will let you explore options that you might not have thought about.  If you have questions or would like to look at menu options call your favorite caterer and see what will be the best for you!

My Wish for Your Wedding Reception

I’ve been to several weddings over my lifetime. They have varied with budget and locations to eras and style. I have been to large weddings, over the top, intimate and styled. The one constant in all of these have been food. Yes, everyone wants to eat, and apparently, wants to eat well.

I went to a couple over the top weddings on Long Island. It must be something about the area. They love to eat! The first was a sit down with several courses. I can’t tell you what they were due to my escalating age and deteriorating memory and the fact the wine glass was NEVER empty. Luckily the people sitting next to me were a lot of fun because we were never able to get away from the table. The second had a reception that was geared to feed an army. Or, rather,  several armies. They had pasta stations, carving stations, meatballs, cheeses and even more. I thought it was amazing until someone mentioned we still had a full sit down dinner to partake in. The sit down was substantially subpar to the “snack” beforehand, and seriously, how much food can one eat in a four hour period? (I really should have eaten more of the pasta.) I didn’t even mention the Viennese Hour following this… gluttony at it’s finest.

Mini Twice Baked Potatoes

 

I’ve been to weddings with buffets but I can’t seem to warm up to food that has been sitting there and picked over by a multitude of strangers. A personal OCD situation but nonetheless, still unappetizing. People eat more than they need to or probably want to (hence the increased cost), but who wants to see full pans of food just sitting there? It’s like they’re calling out to you, “Come eat me! Don’t let me go to waste!” And of course, you must obey.

So many weddings and so many times I’ve been unable to talk to people because we’re stuck at a table eating. It’s not as fun as dancing and mingling, but we do expect a good meal. (yes, we’re there for the bride and groom too!)

Gouda Grit Cakes with Shrimp and Bourbon Glaze

Aren’t we there because it’s a celebration, a time to catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while or meet for the first time? You don’t want to sit all night, and especially don’t want to if the ones you’re sharing the table with have no personality!                                                           

As a caterer and owner of The Twisted-Fork, I wish more brides and grooms would choose to have finger food receptions or food stations. It’s so much more fun!

 

My specialty is making big food small, so I guess I may be a little biased, but hear me out. When you have a reception of finger foods or stations, you have a variety of foods to choose from which is great for foodies and is also more accommodating to guests with dietary restrictions.

You can mingle, talk and dance and people can eat when they want instead of being sent to the troughs at relegated times. More often than not anymore, this type of reception can be quite creative. Sliders, pasta or donut stations, mini potatoes stuffed like that big one you have at the steak house, and lasagne that can be eaten in one bite but with the same big flavor punch. For a caterer and foodie like myself, this is considered nirvana.            

Other than throwing out the thought of a traditional wedding meal, this plan can really work for anyone and everyone. It can still work with your budget and style. Your stomach will still be satisfied and your guests will still be happy. You can have tables and chairs for everyone but if your space is limited take away a little of the seating and this is a great way to have everyone attend comfortably.

Basil Cheesecakes with Tomato Jam

So please, do me a favor. Get that rubber chicken idea out of your head and start thinking of Mini Chicken Parmesan Meatballs or a Mashed Potato Bar with a variety of toppings. Put your own stamp on it and let your taste buds walk on the wild side. You’ll be happy you did and you’ll make me one happy caterer.

 

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