4 Tips for a Dinner-Focused Reception

4 Tips for a Dinner-Focused Reception

One of the biggest complaints I hear about weddings from my brides and grooms, including their mothers, is waiting in long lines for a buffet service. For example, sometimes people aren’t excused to the buffet in an orderly fashion, the food is lukewarm, or plate presentation is sacrificed when guests serve themselves.

To help alleviate these possibilities and the grumbling in your stomach, consider re-creating a casual dinner party atmosphere, much like you would in your own home, at your reception. This atmosphere can help create a more intimate setting for your guests and promote conversation. There are several steps you can take to achieve this level of comfort, including:

1 Setup the reception with long banquet tables (versus round tables) so guests are seated in closer proximity to each other. However, this type of setup works best for smaller wedding parties. Also, try to minimize your centerpieces so your view is not blocked of the guests directly in front of you (which could potentially save you money).

2 Shorten the traditional cocktail hour and seat guests sooner at the tables with appetizer plates to share and pre-set salads waiting for them.

3 Serve the main course(s), side dishes, and beverages (like water and iced tea) family–style in the middle of the table, so guests can serve themselves. Keep in mind the menu you choose should be conducive to this style of service, which is why many Italian and Asian-style dishes work best. Plate presentation can still be an issue with this setup, so an individually-plated and served meal is another option.

4 Due to venue regulations and liquor laws, guests normally cannot serve themselves alcohol. However, use the money you saved from using smaller centerpieces for table wine service so guests don’t have to get up from their seats and break conversation, as well to help reduce potential lines at the bar.

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