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!