How to… Delight Your Guests with Fabulous and Affordable Wedding Food
When planning the menu for your wedding reception several things come into play. Realistically, the menu will take about 40% of your budget. If you are trying to keep cost down, there are a few things to consider.
Trimming the Guest List
Start with the guest list. Keep it as small as possible. Although this is much easier said than done, this will be the most cost effective solution. Additionally, when booking the reception site, remember the time of year, day of the week, and even time of day will figure into the cost. I guarantee you will pay a lot more for a wedding venue in Pittsburgh on a Saturday evening in June, compared to a Sunday afternoon in March or October!
Some locations offer only “in house” catering, which is great if you’re happy with their selections. If you plan to bring in a caterer from the outside, the article “How to Get Great Wedding Catering on a Budget” should be helpful in making your decision.
What’s On the Menu?
Once you have the time and place in mind, determine what type of meal you are serving. Selections vary from a six course sit down dinner to a lighter, lunch buffet. A family style brunch, cocktails and hor’douerves or dessert and coffee are all great options. Whatever you choose, remember always keep your guests tastes in mind. Offer enough assortments so there is something for everyone. Make sure to feature variety in flavors, texture, color and appearance! Keep your guests senses stimulated!
Seasonal Choices Save Money
Keep in mind what is in season at the time. Seasonal fruits and sea food will be better quality and less expensive than off season items. Also, choose foods to fit your setting. If you want your guests to mingle at the reception, you won’t want to serve a full plate which would need to be eaten with a knife and fork. Passing finger foods will be a better option. Also, choose foods that have a long shelf life. It may look good in the kitchen, but how will it look by the time it gets to your guests?
Get Something to Nibble on ASAP
At most receptions, the guests will arrive before the bride and groom. If this is the case, you will want to have something ready for them upon their arrival. This might be a cue to start the cocktail hour and get some hor’douerves circulating. There are several options for the cocktail hour.
If an open bar is what you prefer, check into bringing in your own liquor and bartender, this will cut your costs in half. You can also choose to limit the time the bar is open. Make it available up until the toast takes place. Another option is to have waiters passing drinks on trays. Not only is it more cost effective, it will also add a touch of class. Your guests won’t have to stand in line at the bar, and it will prevent over consumption. If you choose to have a nonalcoholic reception, bring in an espresso cart for a little variety. Plenty of soda, juices, bottled water and coffee should always be available, and remember never charge your guests for drinks. They are just that, your guests!
Unless you are having just cocktails and hor’douerves at the reception, try to steer clear of appetizer stations. Having waiters pass appetizers, again, will add that touch of class and let you control the portions, which is much more cost effective. If you must have an appetizer station, try to be creative with dips and breads.
The Chocolate Fountain – It’s Yummy and Entertaining
One indulgence every reception should have is the ever-amazing “chocolate fountain”. This will be the most popular station during the event! Most brides have the fountain running as the guests arrive, and keep it going until the dancing is in full swing. That’s usually about three hours, which gives everyone an opportunity to indulge at their leisure. If you are having a big sit down dinner, you may want the fountain flowing afterwards. Guests are always amazed and delighted – and love the chocolate. Serve a variety of dipping items; five or six different items are sufficient. Fresh fruits (strawberries and pineapple are the favorites); marshmallows, pretzels, cream puffs, cookies, and rice crispy treats are among the most popular items.
Your caterer will be a tremendous help in planning your menu and will have lots of great ideas. So, keeping your guests in mind let that creative part of you go wild! And may your Pittsburgh wedding reception be as perfect as you envision it!