The Mindful Bride, Wedding Planner Tips from  The Menu


What could possibly be more fun than selecting the wedding day menu?  Everyone looks forward to the food, and it can be very memorable, good or bad, so be thoughtful and careful before making selections.  While much is depending upon the caterer, choosing what’s on the menu and how it is served can also affect the success of cocktail and dinner hour.  The food is almost always the most costly part of the wedding day, ranging from $30 to $70/plate for a more economic friendly wedding to $125 to $300 for a formal, luxurious event, with an average cost of $85/plate (reported by The Bridal Association of America).

First, the time of the reception should be considered, and that will determine the type and amount of food served.  If the reception is during the lunch or dinner hour, then serving a full course meal is appropriate.  Heavy hors d'oeuvres are certainly acceptable and have become a popular approach to wedding fare, but expect that older guests and traditional parents may prefer a meal.  Either brunch or lunch can be served during the lunch hour, with the option of bloody marys and mimosas that are appealing and unique to that time of day.  Although a lunch hour reception can offer a full bar, a lighter menu and bar is typically selected that time of day.

If a full feast is preferred, then comes the decision of whether the meal will be plated or buffet style.  A plated served meal is always more costly because it requires more service staff, with a general rule of 1 server for every 15 guests and 1 bartender for every 50 guests for a full bar.  If only wine and beer are served then 1 bartender for every 75 guests is acceptable.  A plated meal is usually considered more formal, although a buffet style dinner should not be frowned upon, as long as the type of food is carefully selected.  For instance, fish is typically not a good buffet choice since it can dry out and needs to stay viable for at least an hour.  A caterer will usually be open to serving the head table so the wedding party can maintain a more formal appearance of not going through the buffet line.  Just ensure that everyone’s food preferences are communicated to the catering staff prior to the wedding day.

While it’s certainly not ideal to exhaust the hors d’oeuvres before cocktail hour ends, be cognizant of not going too heavy or guests will over indulge prior to dinner.  But if heavy hors d’ oeuvres are the main course, then you can’t go too heavy.  Consider a carving station or a few substantial items that will satisfy your guests, such as sliders, lobster ravioli, or a taco bar.  If serving dinner, lighter or at least smaller options are recommended, such as bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed endive spears, or everyone’s favorite bacon-wrapped scallops! 

 Also, don’t forget your vegetarian friends.  All caterers will offer a vegetarian option, and they certainly appreciate a vegetarian count provided before the wedding day, if possible.  Although not required, consider any vegan guests and definitely guests who may have wheat, nut, or seafood allergies. 

Before you make any food selections a food tasting is a must.  Items that may look appealing on paper may not be as appealing to the pallet.  Inevitably, some main course items or sides are discounted when a better one is discovered.  Enjoy the tasting and selection process and make well thought-out choices to give guests another reason to rave about your wedding day!