A wedding held at 9 or 10 in the morning can effectively be paired with a breakfast or brunch reception in a beautifully appointed location, often a restaurant or hotel banquet hall. Guests may be directed to sit at specific tables, or you may prefer buffet-style serving.
Light but elegant is the key here in both cases. A buffet should offer an assortment of fresh fruit, croissants, rolls, and possibly quiche, cheese, or even cold cuts. A sit-down brunch should be slightly more substantial, beginning with fruit, then eggs Benedict or omelets with toast or rolls. Both styles should include a choice of juices, as well as both coffee and tea.
Wedding cake is appropriately served after the brunch, or you may prefer to offer exquisite pastries to your guests. It’s early for alcoholic beverages, so again, you’ll want to keep it light should you choose to serve alcohol at brunch. Champagne, punch, mimosas, and Bloody Marys are all excellent choices.
As with a brunch reception, the luncheon may be a buffet or sit-down affair. Generally held between noon and 2 p.m., the luncheon reception usually follows a late-morning or midday ceremony.
Again, light fare is typical at this reception. Buffets usually include a variety of items, such as chicken, pasta, fruit and vegetables with dip, sandwiches, cold cuts, and assorted cheeses. For a more upscale feel, many couples add light seafood, such as shrimp or poached salmon. Your catering professional and reception coordinator will advise you as to what will work best.
If you opt for a sit-down luncheon, you may wish to have a cocktail hour while you and your new husband greet your guests. Champagne, cocktails, and light hors d’oeuvres are nice for this social time before lunch. Once everyone is seated, soup or salad, served with white wine, if desired, is a good way to start the meal. A fine cut of beef or chicken breast, crepes, and vegetables with a rice pilaf are excellent menu choices. Dessert, of course, will be your beautiful wedding cake, and your guests should be served coffee or tea at that time. (If children are present be sure milk and soft drinks are available.) Espresso or cappuccino is also a wonderful treat.
Tea or cocktail
A tea reception is usually held between 2 and 5 p.m., frequently in a private home or garden, following an early-afternoon wedding. Champagne or ginger ale punch, coffee and tea are generally served, along with tea sandwiches, and other finger foods, and wedding cake. This is a time when guests can mingle as they eat, and most will be standing throughout the event.
Similar to a tea, but a little more formal, is the cocktail reception, which is held between 4 and 7:30 p.m., following a late-afternoon wedding. Champagne, wine, punch, or beer are beverages of choice, and some couples opt for an open bar. Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres may be passed around or set out on buffet tables for guests to help themselves.
A dinner reception is generally more elaborate than those held earlier in the day, with a full meal provided for your guests. It usually begins between 6 and 9 p.m., and frequently starts with a cocktail hour featuring drinks and light hors d’oeuvres before the meal. A dinner reception, like the brunch and luncheon, may be either buffet-style or seated. There is often a more extensive selection of food, and the items served may be heartier and more typical of dinner fare.
An interesting and trendy variation on the dinner reception is the concept of food stations. This type of dinner is similar to a buffet, but there are several smaller tables set up in different areas of the reception hall, and each table can carry out a particular theme, décor and type of food. For example, one table might feature a wonderful selection of bread and cheeses, with a French or Italian flair to its design, while another may be decorated with flowers and hold baskets of fruit. Or perhaps an ocean motif would be the perfect background for a sculpted ice shell filled with tantalizing jumbo shrimp. Another nice option with food stations is an on-site chef carving a roast, or perhaps creating made-to-order crepes.
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