We all know that weddings come in all different sizes and styles, each uniquely beautiful as they represent each happy couple. It makes sense then that the style of menu choices at a black-tie wedding varies from that of a backyard barbecue, based on the couple’s theme and plans for the reception. We’ve rounded up some of our most popular reception options and fan-favorite menus to jumpstart your menu planning… Keep in mind that caterers (and guests!) LOVE innovative ideas and unique twists that make your event more personal, so it’s important to work closely with your caterer to best convey what you’re looking for. After all, only you and your significant other can decide which option (or options) best fit your needs to bring your vision for your special day full circle!
Sit-down dinners typically consist of a multi-course meal in which each course is plated and served individually to guests. This elegant option allows your guests to feel pampered and is traditionally used for more formal affairs. Drawbacks to the sit-down dinner include a more focused menu, as well as greater expense due to the increased staffing requirements to adequately serve your guests.
Michael’s round up on sit-down dinners: Formal sit-down dinners can be quite regal and beautiful. At Helga’s, we often serve our sit-down menus using butlered French service, where each individual’s plate is served at the table during the reception, offering an extra layer of exceptional service for the guests.
Hors d’oeuvres to be passed on silver trays:
- Assorted sushi with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger
- Crisp phyllo money bags with wild mushrooms served with Hollandaise sauce
- Chicken Polynesian with chutney butter
Rolls to be passed and wine poured as guests are seated
First Course (Choose 1):
- Smoked Salmon Roll with caviar and pumpernickel
- Fresh grapes rolled in Chevre with walnuts and chives served on a bed of micro greens
- Allie’s Salad: mixed baby field greens with strawberries, craisins, mandarin oranges and sugarcoated almonds tossed in a honey-poppyseed dressing
French Service Entree:
- Chicken Wellington: tender breast of chicken wrapped in puff pastry with duxelle served with wild mushroom sauce
- Grilled swordfish marinated with cilantro and lime
- Orzo Florentine
- A colorful medley of baby vegetables
- A traditional French genoise sponge cake laced with your choice of liqueur and elegantly decorated with butter cream frosting and fresh flowers
- Freshly Brewed Starbucks Coffee and Tea
Buffets are always an excellent option, particularly for couples that want to serve a wide variety of food choices to their guests. Buffets provide greater flexibility, allowing guests to pick the items that most satisfy their palates, as well as controlling how much or little of each item is served. This style also tends to be less expensive than sit-down dinners and may be a good option for those on a budget. The disadvantage to using buffets may include lines while your guests are waiting to get their food if not properly managed. However, talking with your caterer about potential strategies to reduce lines and wait time can help to alleviate this concern.
Michael’s round up on buffet receptions: Buffets are a great way to provide a dramatic focal point for your reception due to the endless beautiful display possibilities. We see buffets used in a variety of ways throughout receptions, from the cocktail hour to the main meal, or both.
Hors d’oeuvres to be passed:
- Grilled Cajun duck bites served with creole dipping sauce
- Seared tuna canapés served on a crispy fried won-ton with pickled ginger, white radish and wasabi
- Red bliss potato baskets filled with sour cream and caviar
- Beef tenderloin roasted to perfection served with horseradish sauce
- Whole Poached Norwegian Salmon elegantly garnished with lemon scales served with cucumber-dill sauce
- Chicken Mojito: grilled breast of chicken served with mojito sauce of peppers, lime, garlic and cilantro
- Wild and white rice medley with dried cranberries
- A colorful medley of julienne vegetables
- Greek salad of crisp romaine lettuce with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, imported Kalamata Olives and Feta cheese tossed in red wine vinaigrette and virgin olive oil
- An elaborate bread display with a variety of rolls and butter
Food stations are an exciting, interactive alternative to buffets that allow for increased flexibility and options but provide your guests with even more opportunity to customize their meals and to promote mingling. Multiple stations are set up for the reception, usually with a common theme at each station. For example, you may find a DIY potato bar with all the fixings at one station, whereas at the next station you would find a chef carving your meat to order. Because items are often available made-to-order with this style of service, it is important to keep in mind that more time may need to be allotted for dinner when planning your reception timeline.
Michael’s round up on food stations: Food stations are a great way to provide an additional dimension to your reception. We love when our chefs get the opportunity to have more face-time with our clients and their guests, and this style creates a fun and exciting way to make that happen.
Hors d’oeuvres to be passed:
- Mushroom Caps stuffed with Chevre and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Oyster Shooters served from a Shot Glass with Cocktail Sauce and Finlandia Vodka with Lemon
- Crostini of Roast Beef, Horseradish Sauce, Colorful Peppers and Fresh Thyme
- A variety of empanadas and burritos with salsa
- Vegetarian quesadillas with corn and peppers
- Grilled chorizo tidbits with Dijon mustard
- “Walk Around” Five Layer Nacho Margaritas with guacamole, black beans, chunky salsa, grated cheddar cheese and sour cream
- Colorful blankets, sombreros, piñatas and gourds
- Peking Duck to order rolled in Mandarin Pancakes with Scallions and Hoisin Sauce laced with Chinese Red Wine served from Bamboo Baskets
- Miniature spring rolls with duck sauce
- Oriental props, fans and chopsticks for ambiance
Italian Pasta Station:
- Sweet Italian sausage with mushrooms, peppers and onions simmered in marinara sauce served with rotini pasta
- Pasta Primavera: a colorful medley of vegetables sautéed with fresh herbs and tossed with penne pasta in cream sauce
- White clam sauce served with baby pasta seashells
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- Chianti bottles and dried pastas for décor
Family style dinners are a cozy, intimate way to serve your guests. With platters served on each table, your family and friends have the ability to select their portions through self-service. In order to successfully carry out a family style meal, a key factor is ensuring there is enough space at the tables to comfortably fit your guests, as well as the food and equipment.
Michael’s round up on family style: Coming from a large family with seven children, I always enjoy when clients choose to use family style service for their receptions. This style emanates the casual comfort of family gatherings at home, without all of the work and worry!
- Miniature roasted chicken and portobello mushroom strudel served with sun-dried tomato aioli
- Tortellini caprese skewers with fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes drizzled with fresh basil vinaigrette
- Melon wrapped with prosciutto
- Chicken roulade with artichoke hearts, pine nuts, and pesto served with marsala wine sauce
- Cheese filled ravioli tossed with shrimp, green beans and cherry tomatoes and fresh dill
- Mixed green mesclun salad tossed with fresh fennel in red wine vinaigrette
- Rolls and butter
Michael Evans is chef-owner of Helga’s Caterers, a family-owned, full-service catering company with over 35 years of experience in providing fine food and excellent service for all of your catering needs throughout the D.C. Metro Area.