Ways to Serve Dinner at a Wedding Reception


Your wedding guests may forget your dress, the venue and even the groom's name, but they'll always remember the food and how you served it. Presentation is crucial on this special day and it's wise to choose a dinner style that fits your personality and your resources. While traditional wedding dinner styles have plenty of appeal, don't feel constrained by them. Remember, the more unique your wedding is, the more memorable it will be for everyone.

Sit-Down Dinner

  • By far the most traditional way of serving dinner, a sit-down dinner is also generally the most expensive. It requires you and your intended to craft a menu, usually of several courses, and sometimes numerous waitstaff to serve it and clear dishes from each course. You can cut costs by having a family-style sit-down dinner, where guests help themselves from communal platters. If you have a large budget and guest list, a sit-down dinner may be advisable. It will provide your guests the chance to enjoy an uninterrupted meal together at their table and eliminate the chance of diners having to stand in line for food.

Appetizers and Food Stations

  • Serving appetizers for dinner at your wedding reception is an excellent way to provide a wide variety of food in small, bite-size portions. It encourages mingling and, with the right menu, may not even require you to provide silverware. Appetizers are also highly customizable; you can turn almost any entree into an appetizer simply by making it smaller, allowing for a great deal of freedom when selecting your menu. It is common for appetizers to be accompanied by food stations. Food stations allow you to feature nontraditional and innovative foods in small plates-sized portions. They may be manned by a cook who prepares each guest's portion individually. Pasta, tacos and seafood are popular choices.


  • A buffet is a relatively cost-effective and straightforward way to feed a large number of guests. The food is set up, usually on one or more long tables, and guests walk through and fill a plate, often chatting with other guests. Venues usually charge a per-person rate for a buffet. However, buffets in general offer comparatively little menu flexibility and creativity. It is common for venues to allow couples to choose one of four or five buffet packages that tend to be rather bland and unimaginative for the purposes of appealing to as many guests as possible. If you go this route, be sure to find an option that satisfies your appetite.

"Alternative" Dinners

  • If china and silver aren't your style, you may like the idea of having a food truck wedding reception. Food trucks are exactly what they sound like - relatively cheap, no-frills food served by a rolling vendor at your reception. Tacos, hot dogs and crepes are just a few possibilities. Another option is to have a picnic dinner. After your ceremony, provide blankets and picnic baskets (or paper bags) containing dinner and paper plates and flatware. For an ultra-casual wedding reception dinner, fire up the grill after you say "I do" and enjoy burgers and grilled veggies with your guests.

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