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Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Reception Meal Styles And Menu Ideas

Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Reception Meal Styles And Menu Ideas

The wedding day is one of the most important days for a lot of young couples. Months of planning go into perfecting every detail so as to be satisfactory not just to the wedding bride and groom but also to their guests. Among all the different aspects involved in a wedding, fixing and preparing the style of reception and the menu has got to be one of the most important parts.

Menu And Reception Ideas for Your Big Day
Menu And Reception Ideas for Your Big Day

Food, which is undoubtedly the most vital element part of your event, should reflect the bride and groom as a couple. Therefore, the style in which the meal is served should go with the planned theme of the overall wedding. Here are 6 different ways to conduct your wedding reception in style:


As the name suggests, this is a very informal way of conducting a wedding reception. And very obviously, this does not involve a typical sit-down affair. A reception of this kind does not involve communal tables. Thus, this means that food either needs to come to them with the help of wait staff roaming around with canapés or the food needs to be easily accessible. A typical cocktail menu includes a selection of different foods without any disturbance to the events taking place simultaneously. One of the biggest advantages to a cocktail style reception is that guests do not have to wait for their food and they get to choose and eat whatever they like. Also, such parties can be totally personalized and can reflect the personality of the bride and the groom. The menu in a cocktail style party may include prawns, lamb chops, fajitas, lobster rolls, dumplings, dimsums etc. For a more elegant affair, even hors d’oeuvres can be served by the waiters. However, before completely deciding on such a reception, it is also important to remember that serving sizes are generally small when it comes to a cocktail reception. So, there is a possibility that guests do not get enough to eat. Also, there is no guarantee that the food will reach every guest due to the constant roaming of waiters. For guests with dietary requirements, this kind of food may not be the best idea. Most importantly it is very difficult to work out a budget for such receptions because portion sizes may vary. Staff will definitely have to be paid higher as compared to the other style receptions.


A barbecue style reception is another kind of informal party with a tinge of fun in it. Combine it with self-serve buffets and guests can have the time of their lives by picking their favorite piece of chicken, beef, pork and sausages. The menu can also include sides like barbecue beans. Coleslaw, potato salad, garlic bread and cornbread. Also, bear in mind that barbecues can turn the venue smoky if not airy enough. In addition the seating area should be kept away from the direction of the smoke. Barbecues do run the risk of getting burnt so it is important to hire experienced staff for the same.

buffet style reception


The buffet style reception involves guests in helping themselves to a variety of foods and includes the setting up of a long table near the seating area to serve its purpose. Buffets in addition to providing a lot of variety is also perfect for picky eaters or people with diet restrictions. Self-service in the buffet system is a way more guest friendly method as compared to fine dining and the like. Also, buffets can be visually appealing if planned properly with a design team. However, buffets do inadvertently mean that there may be long queues. So, if the couple don’t like the idea of making their guests wait, this is probable not a good option. Again there is the risk of likely accidents like food being spilt and plates being dropped. Thus, it is not really the perfect option for tightly packed venues. Also, in terms of the budget, the couple would have to pay a lot more than a family style wedding due to the wide variety of food made available. The upside is that they would not have to spend a lot of money on the waiting staff. A typical buffet menu may include stuffed endive with Roquefort cheese, roasted new potatoes, tartlets, mousse puffs, sandwiches, crab cakes, pasta station and so much more.

Self-serve stations

This kind of reception style is quite similar to the buffet style in that stations also provide a wide variety of food for the guests. Usually, stations have tables set apart specifically for certain dishes and types of food. They are definitely more interactive and this makes it a great option for guests to get personalized food items. They help in creating stunning visual displays and encourage guests to interact with one another. Food can be made as and when desired. From Pizzas to omelettes everything is just one command away! However, rental costs and staff ratios can be quite costly. Stations may also require a lot of space so it is important to keep the size of the venue in mind before deciding on this reception style.

family style reception tables and platters of food

Family Style

As the name suggests, a family style reception is a kind of reception that gives home vibes! Everyone is seated at tables and platters of food are passed around the table just as if guests were at home. The first course usually consists of one or two options while the main course may include multiple dishes. Of course, such kinds of receptions offer a great deal of variety which is a boon to people with diet issues. Also, the home setting gives the reception a very casual, laid back look. It is also a very good way to build relationships as people seated around the table engage with one another. One of the most important benefits of such a reception is that it is a very efficient way for the meals to be served as guests do not have to wait in long queues or bother with going to get their meals themselves. The menu in family style receptions may include salads, biscuits, chicken, steak and everyone’s favorite wine or champagne. While choosing a steak, go ahead and check out prime steaks from Allen Brothers and everything about them to choose the most preferred option. No sumptuous meal is fulfilling without good wine and it is always good to have choices of traditional and organic wine and if you plan to go for the latter, here’s more to help you zero in on the best pick. The level of comfort and relaxation in a family style reception does obviously mean that it is the most expensive option as compared to the others. It also involves a large amount of food due to which there is the risk of wastage.


This is the most traditional reception style that the majority of couples go for. This kind of reception is the type where all the guests are seated and served a formal dinner. Most plated receptions consist of a two course meal and dessert. It is generally advised that the couple decide on the main course beforehand between a wide range of proteins like chicken, beef, pork, steak etc.  Everyone is usually served the same amount of appetizer. Entrée can be either selected from the menu or chosen beforehand when guests submit their RSVP.

Plated receptions set the tone for a more formal gathering giving it a very elegant tone. Couples have the most control in this kind of reception as both the budget and the kind of food is in their hands and their decision to make. It is also an efficient way to serve meals and helps both the couple and the guests in sticking to the set schedule. Despite its benefits, a plated reception can be challenging to guests as it offers less variety. Also, this kind of reception involves hiring a large number of staff so staffing fees tend to be a little higher. Most importantly, owing to how formal it is, plated receptions are not viable for those looking for a relaxed casual ambience in their reception.

1 thought on “Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Reception Meal Styles And Menu Ideas

  1. Thanks for explaining what family style is. I’m thinking about having my wedding reception in a restaurant. If I could get a banquet room, that would be the best.

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