Sunday, March 26, 2017

Unique and Budget Friendly Wedding Buffets

In the last issue we talked about wedding favors that won't put a big
dent in your budget. In this issue we are going to talk about how to feed
all your guests in style without going into debt.

Food can take a huge chunk out of your wedding budget. It's often
difficult to figure out what's acceptable as it is an area in which expert's
(etiquette or otherwise) opinions vary widely. It can also be difficult to
choose what type of food to serve at your reception, especially when
you consider all of the different varieties of food available to you.

If you are having your reception at a hall that offers food service as part
of the package, choose your menu wisely. While you may dream of a
steak and lobster meal at your reception, this will be quite expensive
and is not really viable when throwing a wedding on a budget.

There’s nothing wrong with an elegantly prepared chicken breast for
your wedding meal. Perhaps offer a vegetarian alternative like fish as
well.  Beef tends to be more expensive than poultry or fish, so be
completely committed if you must have steak, you'll pay for it!

Consider having hors-d'oeuvres if your reception hall will be catering.
Almost always, these will be cheaper than a sit down meal, and guests
can enjoy them just as much.

Here are some general tips for your wedding dinner catered by your
reception hall:

It's a myth that a buffet-style meal is less expensive than a served
one. In reality, buffets require more food and more labor so their cost is

If you are working with a smaller group (say 40 to 70), piggyback
onto another group's menu. This allows the hotel to buy in bulk and
lowers your price.

Consider other main entrees besides beef and chicken. Chefs can
do a lot of things with pastas and the price is usually very reasonable

For halls that will allow you to bring in your own caterer, the key here is
to shop around. Check with a local family restaurant and see if they
have bulk meals they will offer for your reception.  Almost all will or at
the very least, will try for the money.

If serving your guests a full meal isn't within your budget, don't worry
there are other options for you to choose from.

All of these options are less expensive than a full meal (whether
buffet style or sit-down) if you don't mind doing a good bit of the work
yourself and you aren't holding the reception during meal-time.

Breakfast is often served around 8:00 a.m., Lunch at 12:00 p.m. and
Dinner at 6:00 p.m., and these are the times in which a full meal is
generally expected by guests. These times also vary depending on your
area. You should hold your reception two hours before or after these
times if you don't plan on serving a full meal.

Let's talk about some of the types of reception in which a full
meal isn't served.

- Cake and Punch Reception.

The most common time of day that this type of reception is held is early
afternoon (approximately 2:00 p.m.), but it can also occur in mid-
morning (approximately 10:00 a.m.). A cake and punch reception
generally consists of the wedding cake and refreshments.
Refreshments can include: punch, coffee, tea, champagne, etc. You can
also supplement the wedding cake with other types of cake in different
flavors and textures.

- Dessert Reception.

This type of reception is one in which desserts are served. Desserts
can include pies, cakes, doughnuts, cookies, pastries, brownies, etc.
Another option, which can be combined with a normal dessert
reception if you'd like, is a sundae bar.

In this type of reception, you serve bowls of ice cream (usually vanilla)
and let your guests choose their topping. Toppings can include
chocolate or fudge sauce, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, crushed
walnuts, whipped cream, fruit toppings, etc. Basically, the same things
you'd find in any sundae bar.

Summer is the most common time of year for a sundae bar. A normal
dessert bar can be used year round though as there are desserts
specific to season. For example, pumpkin pie and apple pie would be
a great choice for fall weddings. This type of reception is also an
example of an inexpensive choice if you purchase the items on your

- Hors-d'oeuvres Reception.

There are actually two distinct types of hors-d'oeuvres receptions. The
first is light hors-d'oeuvres and consists of a lighter fare than the second
which is a heavy hors-d'oeuvres menu.

A light menu often includes items such as: crackers, vegetable platters
with dip, fruit, cheese, etc. A heavy hors-d'oeuvres often includes these
as well as items such as: meat and cheese trays, chicken fingers, egg
rolls, etc.

These types of receptions are also (casually) called "finger-food
receptions" in some areas. In order to save money on this type of
reception, check your local grocery store deli for prices on "meat and
cheese" trays as well as "vegetable" and "cracker and cheese"
platters. Their prices are often very reasonable. Another option is to buy
the ingredients yourself.

- Tea Reception.

This type of reception is a relic from a bygone era. Originally, tea
receptions were meant to reflect the mood of an "afternoon tea." An
authentic tea reception will include items such as petit fours, watercress
sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, scones (biscuits), etc.

Be sure to cut the crusts off the sandwiches and cut in a diagonal cross
(X shape) for an authentic look. If you're looking for a more modern
approach you can also serve coffee with the tea.

You can also serve: bite-size pieces of cake (such as carrot), any
manner of sandwich which is easy to cut, cinnamon rolls, etc. This type
of reception is relatively inexpensive depending on the items you
decide to serve and can be relaxing for both the couple and the

- Salad Reception.

This choice is becoming more popular and is a viable choice for
vegetarians who don't want to serve a full meal. Items served can
include: green (lettuce, spinach) salads, fruit salads, pasta salads,
potato salads, coleslaw, etc.

A veggie bar (to supplement green salads) can be added as well and
may have such choices as: chopped onions, carrots (baby or sliced),
celery, broccoli, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, etc.

A salad dressing bar can be chosen as well and may include such
choices as: vinegar and oil, Italian dressing, garlic and olive oil,
balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, etc.

Other dressing choices could include: bleu cheese, ranch, French, etc.
This type of reception is also inexpensive if you prepare most of the
items yourself.

Here are some other quick ideas for the food at the reception:

- Try a pasta reception in which your guests are served plain pasta
with their choice of toppings.

- Have a Mexican buffet.

- Provide simple lunch meats and cheeses with bread for sandwiches.

- If you’re a member of a church and will be having your reception there,
check with the ladies auxiliary and see if they'll do the food in exchange
for a donation to their organization.

- Try a local service organization:  the Kiwanis, the Jaycees

- Call a community college and see if their culinary students would
cook for you if you provide the food.

Now there is some debate on whether it's a good idea to add a line on
your invitation stating what type of reception is occurring.

Some examples of this are:

- Cake and Punch Reception to Follow Ceremony
- Light ors-d'oeuvres reception to follow at two o'clock
- Dessert Reception Following Ceremony.

My personal opinion is that it makes it easier, not only for the
you, but for the guests as well. It's a clear way to inform guests that a full
meal should not be expected and give them the option of eating a meal
(if needed) prior to or after the wedding.

Make sure you look for your next issue soon. We will be talking about
finding the perfect cake for your special day!

Cindy Lieber
Accredited Event Designer
OC Brides Event Coordination
(714) 970-6380
P.S.  Did this help you find a way to have a unique wedding and stay 
within your budget?  Click here and Tell me about it!

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