According to Theknot.com, as of January 2010 the average cost for a 150-person wedding is about $25,000, and couples spend between 48 percent and 50 percent of that on their reception. As a result, many couples are careful when selecting the food they will serve. The menu for your wedding reception will depend on the formality and location of the event.
Meat Entrees: Formal Reception
Beef and seafood are the most expensive meat entrees, and chicken and turkey tend to be the most inexpensive. Meat entrees could include prime rib, grilled salmon, marinated chicken breast and filet mignon. Those can be served buffet style or as part of a three course sit-down dinner.
Meat Entrees: Casual Reception
A casual wedding reception such as an informal picnic or a backyard barbecue calls for casual meat entrees. These could include barbecued ribs, pulled pork, barbecued chicken or marinated turkey legs.
Side Dishes: Formal Reception
Side dishes should complement the entree you serve. Generally, a reception menu has two sides: a vegetable and a starch. Examples of formal dinner sides are parsley potatoes, steamed vegetables, croissants and pasta. You may also choose to include a dinner salad to accompany the vegetable and starch.
Side Dishes: Casual Reception
A side dish at a casual affair should reflect home-style cooking. Macaroni and cheese, grilled corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, flavored gelatin cubes and macaroni salad are all examples of casual side dishes.
If you plan to include a cocktail hour at your wedding reception, you should serve appetizers. Miniature crab cakes, shrimp with cocktail sauce, raw vegetables with dip, miniature quesadillas and fried cheese sticks are all examples of appetizers you can serve. Try not to choose appetizers that are too filling and will detract from the main course.
If you plan to have a vegetarian menu for your wedding reception, select pasta dishes as your entrees, as pasta is filling. Spaghetti in tomato sauce, fettucini Alfredo, pasta with garlic and oil, and pasta with grilled vegetables are some options. If you are vegan, be mindful of the sauce you choose, because some sauces, such as Alfredo, contain dairy. For a side dish, tomatoes and mozzarella balls in oil or a cheese sampler platter will complement a pasta entree--again, those sides work as long as you are not vegan.
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