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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Top Five Reception Types: Which One Works Best For Me?

As you begin to plan your reception, you will soon realize that there are a multitude of options to consider (beyond the venue!) Some of the questions you should be asking are: What type of reception do you want your guests to experience? What type of food will you serve? What time of day will the reception take place? How do you want your reception to flow? This article will focus on reception types as it relates to food (future articles will talk about such things as time of day and seating arrangements).

A wedding and the celebration that follows can make for a long day for your guests (or at minimum, several hours out of their day). You should keep this in mind when deciding on the type of reception to have. Guests should not be expected to spend several hours with you and not be served something to eat!

There are several reception types from which to choose. They are:

• Plated Meal – This is also known as a sit-down meal, where guests are served a meal while seated at their tables. This meal can consist of several courses, starting with an appetizer, followed by salad, the main course and dessert. Wait staff are available to serve each course of the meal. Depending on what time of day your reception is held, this can be a sit-down brunch, luncheon or dinner.

• Buffet – With a buffet meal, guests leave the tables and prepare their plates themselves. Be careful when choosing this style of reception. Guests will be moving around, so you want to make sure there is sufficient space for the serving tables. You also want to plan for multiple buffet lines so that guests don’t stand in line for long periods of time. Additionally, because there is no portion control with a buffet, more food needs to be prepared, and as a result, this can be a more expensive option than the plated meal. In my opinion, this type of reception does not work well for a formal wedding (imagine a female guest trying to hold up her gown and her plate at the same time!)

• Family-style Meal – A hot reception trend is to have the meal served family-style, where large portions of each dish are placed on the table, and guests pass the serving dishes around and serve themselves. This is a great format if you want more guest interaction at the table, and guests do not have to leave their seats to serve themselves.

• Hors D’Oeuvres – With this option, guests mingle and partake of various appetizers and other food items. Again, you will need to ensure there is sufficient space, since guests will be constantly moving around. You may also have action stations with this option, which may include carving stations and pasta stations.

• Dessert – As was stated earlier, guests really should be served food at your reception. But if your reception is scheduled after the dinner hour, one option is to have a dessert reception. Guests are served a variety of cakes and pastries, along with a beverage such as coffee. If you choose to go this route, please make sure this is stated clearly on the reception card, so guests will not expect anything more.

As you consider these alternatives, please bear in mind how you desire your guests to interact with one other at your reception. Do you want lots of conversation, with guests having the opportunity to talk to many people, or do you want more intimate conversations and interactions? Consider your own preferences, personality and style as you make these decisions. After all, this is your official party as husband and wife, and you want it to memorable for you as well as your guests!

Your Planning Assignment:
Brain-storm with your fiancé to determine the type of reception you want to have. Share these ideas with the catering managers when you visit potential reception venues.

Happy Planning!

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