Food For Thought: 3 Wedding Reception Meal Styles To Consider

One of the most important parts of your big day (besides the ring and the dress, of course) is what kind of experience you want your guests to have at the reception – and their experience depends a lot on the kinds of food you serve. But with so many options, how can you nail down the style that will keep your guests healthy while still giving you everything you want? If you're trying to choose between reception meal styles and need a bit of help picking the perfect one, then here's what you need to know.

Formal Entree

The classic choice, this style involves a catered meal delivered by waitstaff to your guests, often with a vegetarian option (or some other type of dietary restriction) specially prepared for those who request it along with their RSVP. The obvious pro to this style is its ease; the staff only have to make two meals at most, and everyone gets a nice dinner while they mingle during the reception. However, this way does pretty much require that you hire a catering company, which can be rather expensive, and it's hard to pull off if you have several guests, all with different dietary needs and restrictions – a cousin with Celiac's, an uncle with high blood pressure, an aunt who's diabetic.

Buffet Style

Probably your best bet if you have an extremely large wedding party and/or are having a less formal affair, this style's hallmarks are long tables each filled with pots and pans and dishes of food for your guests to eat. Not only does this allow you greater flexibility – people can eat what they want to eat when they want to eat it, rather than waiting for each course to be delivered – but it also allows you to plan for different dietary restrictions by labeling foods that are gluten-, sugar-, or dairy-free (just to name a few). The downside, however, is that because people can take as much as they want, you're going to have to make more food than you would probably have had to otherwise, and you'll probably have a bunch of leftovers you'll have to worry about, since certain dishes will just be less popular than others.

Cookout Style

The ultimate in non-formality, a cookout style is great if you want to have your family do all the cooking (renting a big enough grill or smoker will be easy enough, and you could get a restaurant to do it if you really wanted to) and can improve the chances of your guests mingling with each other as they congregate by the grill. It is harder to accommodate vegetarians with a cookout style meal, but it can be done – and vegetables like asparagus and squash are particularly fine when grilled. The problem with this is that grilling and other forms of cookout are incredibly time-intensive, and will require a bit of wait time between the ceremony and reception to get all the food ready to go.Talk to a reception hall, like Halls of St. George, when planning the wedding.