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6 Considerations for Your Wedding Reception Menu

Decision-makers typically fall into one of two categories when they try to plan a meal for their wedding. The first is those who decided long ago what food would be served and have a firm plan to get exactly what they dreamed of. The second group consists of those who have never planned a menu like this and have no idea where to begin.

If you find yourself part of the latter group, here is a place to start. When you look at food options, look for choices that fit in with these six considerations.

1. The Wedding Style

First, keep the style of food in line with your plan for the overall wedding and reception. If you want a formal reception with lots of luxury, you may not want a chicken wing buffet. In this case, a plated meal of well-prepared beef and savory vegetables would be more appropriate. However, a beach wedding might be the perfect time to enjoy a good old-fashioned seafood boil with friends.  

2. Your Own Tastes

Ultimately, your wedding day should be about you and your partner. So start with a meal you can enjoy together as a couple. If you have a particular fondness for beef over chicken, go ahead and choose beef. Are you a vegetarian? Don’t feel obligated to serve meat. Love comfort food? Serve some of your favorites. A good caterer can make a great meal out of just about anything. 

3. The Guests’ Sensibilities

You do want to be balanced about your guests’ needs. While you can’t cater to every individual’s taste, you can provide a good variety so everyone can find something to eat. If possible, include filling, attractive options that fulfill requirements for gluten-free guests, dairy-free guests, children, vegetarians, and vegans.

Respect all your guests’ tastes as well by avoiding food that’s too unusual or potentially divisive. Even if you and your partner like to be adventurous or are enamored with a particular food culture, tone it down a little for the sake of others. Look for a variety of enjoyable, simple, local food options with milder flavors and known combinations. If you do want to experiment, offer a signature dish for those who want to participate. 

4. Your Wedding Budget

The best wedding is one that doesn’t add to anyone’s financial stress. Assign a budget to your reception food and stick to it.

Venues provide enough options for today’s couples that everyone should be able to find a solution that works within their budget. If you will struggle to pay for a plated dinner, consider a light reception meal — perhaps by altering the reception time to an hour suited to a dessert and drinks reception. 

5. Your Timeline

Special meals can throw off the wedding day timeline. Be honest about what’s needed to prepare and serve your chosen meal. If a chef has to individually slice or sauté each table’s meal, you may end up with a great show but a whole lot of hungry, angry guests. And all most of them will remember is how long they had to wait for a meal.  

6. The Space Provided

When you plan a meal, you need to keep the available space in mind. A buffet dinner, for example, requires a number of large food tables and space to make a long serving line (or two). If you can’t provide that within a reception area, use a more space-saving meal service or reduce the number of guests. On the other hand, a plated dinner also calls for prep rooms. If these aren’t available, how about a cocktail party reception?

The best source of help in meal planning for any reception is an experienced wedding venue’s catering staff. At Rainbow Gardens, our culinary professionals are ready to help guide you through the process. Call today to learn more about our menu options.

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