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This video is a very helpful overview
for planning your wedding.
receptions are an age old tradition brought about as
a way to thank your guests for attending your
wedding and for their wedding gifts. The wedding
reception you choose to host is only limited by your
imagination. The most popular types of wedding
receptions are buffet receptions, full-service
dinners, cocktail receptions and brunch receptions.
A buffet reception refers to a wedding dinner in
which guests leave their seats to serve themselves
and then take their seats to eat. Similar to buffet
restaurants, buffet-style wedding receptions can
either have a pre-determined seating arrangement or
they can allow for guests to choose the table of
The buffet-style reception dinner is arranged with a
variety of foods - just like a restaurant buffet.
Typically salads, soups and appetizers appear first
in line, followed by breads and buns, rice,
vegetables and finally by meats or entrée dishes.
Desserts usually appear after dinner is complete on
a newly laid table alongside coffee and tea.
Typically an emcee or DJ will be responsible for
announcing the order of tables, so that chaos can be
avoided at the buffet table. Typically, the buffet
food line will start with the bride and groom,
followed by the maid of honor and best man, then
other attendants, parents and guests. Weddings with
a large number of guests often have two or more
buffet stations at either end of the reception venue
so that the wait in line is shorter. Buffet-style
receptions can be served by servers stationed at
each dish or they can be self-served so that guests
can help themselves to their desired portions.
Along the same lines as the buffet reception is the
food station reception. Food stations refer to
smaller buffet tables which are set up around the
perimeter of the reception venue, each showcasing a
different theme or type of food such as sushi,
Mexican foods, cheese and crackers, a salad table, a
fresh seafood collection or carved prime rib.
Many couples choose to decorate each food station
with different decorations in order to display their
unique foods - for example Japanese paper fans for
the sushi table and mini sombreros and pietas for
the Mexican food station. Food stations generally
are manned by chefs carving meats, serving hot foods
from heated trays or sautéing vegetables right in
front of your guest's hungry eyes.
Wedding receptions with full-service dinners, or sit
down dinners as they are sometimes called,
customarily take place between 6 pm and 9 pm in the
Traditionally a cocktail hour proceeds the sit-down
dinner, during which time wait staff circulate the
room with champagne and hors d'oeuvres, while guests
mingle and await the bridal party's return from
taking wedding pictures. The cocktail hour typically
lasts between 1-hour and 1½ hours.
Full-service receptions are considered more of a
formal affair, compared to buffet receptions. At
most full-service receptions wait staff serve each
table for the duration of the meal and guests are
not expected to leave their seats to help themselves
to food. Even though sit-down dinners can cost a
great deal more than buffet dinners guests are often
served more quickly and more efficiently at
Full-service wedding receptions can also take more
organization then buffet receptions. The majority of
sit-down wedding receptions will have a well-thought
out Seating Plan, and seated wedding receptions with
100 or more, guests will find their seats more
easily if your seating plan is posted at the
entrance of the reception room and printed place
cards are placed at each seat.
Planning also comes into play with the dinner menu,
which can consist of many courses. The proper order
of dinner courses is typically as follows:
*Appetizer with first bottle of wine (one white,
*Baskets of dinner rolls or breads
*Entree with second bottle of wine
*Dessert with after-dinner coffee or tea
Please keep in mind that in many cultures the order
of dinner courses can differ slightly.
The timing for the cutting of the wedding cake can
also differ according to custom. At many sit down
dinner receptions the cake is cut and served as the
desert after the meal. However, it's not uncommon
for newlyweds to cut the cake 1 to 2-hours before
the end of the reception.
When budget is a concern, many wedding professionals
recommend the cocktail reception as a classy evening
alternative to the buffet style reception or a
Cocktail receptions, where no dinner is follows,
generally take place between 6 pm and 7:30 pm in the
evening. This timeframe will allow for guests to
have their own dinner before arriving.
Cocktail receptions are fairly formal events. They
call for dressy attire for women and black tie or
business dress for men. Cocktail receptions
encourage mingling, since guests stand for most of
the party. However, small tables, chairs and
sometime couches are set up in order for guests,
especially elderly guests, to rest. Cocktail
receptions can also include dancing if your
reception venue has the space to allow it.
Cocktail receptions are perfect for newlyweds
looking to have an elegant affair, without spending
a fistful of dollars. The cocktail reception is the
perfect affair to be held in an art gallery, in a
funky studio loft, on outdoor terraces underneath
the stars or in landscaped garden surrounded with
In order to keep the bar tab low many cocktail
receptions serve only champagne, wine and beer and
maybe a few other specialty mixed drinks and
punches. When throwing a cocktail reception,
champagne, wine, alcoholic punch, beer and all other
drinks should be provided free of charge to your
guests. A cocktail reception with a cash bar is poor
Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres may also be served to
your guests by wait staff or set out on for
self-serve on buffet tables at a cocktail reception.
The wedding cake is cut immediately after the
wedding ceremony and receiving line. This way guests
can enjoy a piece of the wedding cake along with
their champagne, hors d'oeuvres and desserts - if
they are provided.
Brunch receptions are held following a morning
wedding ceremony at 9 am or 10 am in the morning
hours. Wedding brunches are more economical then
dinner receptions and can be either seated or
The wedding brunch menu normally features an
assortment of fresh fruit, breakfast pastries,
bagels and muffins, yogurt, fresh backed croissants
and rolls, mini breakfast quiches, cold cuts and
cheese, as well as coffee, tea and fresh juice. Some
newlywed couples go all out by featuring an omelet
or crepe bar, complete with a chef whipping them up
fresh for guests. Alcoholic beverages, such as
champagne, champagne punch, morning glories
(champagne and orange juice), wine spritzers,
screwdrivers or bloody Mary's are also popular
Comparable in price to the brunch reception are the
*Buffet Lunch Receptions - either sit-down or
buffet style. Luncheon wedding receptions are
typically held in the late morning or early
afternoon hours, between noon and 2 pm. Buffet lunch
menus can include various green, pasta, fruit and
potato salads, skewers of chicken or shrimp,
vegetables with dip, smoked salmon and crackers, and
a variety of sandwiches, cold cuts and cheeses.
*Tea Receptions - should not be held during
mealtime, so anytime between 2 pm and 5 pm in the
afternoon is adequate. Tea receptions are generally
dry affairs, serving coffee, tea, espresso,
cappuccino and fruit punches, although some tea
receptions do feature champagne and wine. Tea
sandwiches and finger foods such as cookies,
crackers and cheese often make the menu.