Creating Your Wedding Reception Dinner Menu

Stults Wedding Menu Detailphoto credit: Liga Photography |

Well now we get to the fun part of all this talk of wedding meals– creating the menu! We’ve already covered choosing your caterer, and deciding on your dinner style, so last but not least, let’s get to the best part and discuss what exactly will be the scrumptious food fare on your wedding  menu.

In the name of standards, we’re going to talk about developing a menu for family-style, buffet, and wait-served meals, so if you’re having a cocktail reception only, you should follow and expand on the rules for selecting the appetizers for your cocktail hour. But not to worry, read on, and using our tips here, anyone can create a great menu for their wedding guests to enjoy!

Selecting your… Appetizers and Hors d’oeuvres!picture-passed-1Don’t you just LOVE finger foods to whet the appetite before the big meal? We sure do, as do most, as a good batch of assorted appetizers sharpens the senses and satisfies the palette for more delectables forthcoming! Specifically for the cocktail hour, most caterers provide several selections (approximately 10) from which you can choose 3- 5 appetizers. Make sure to develop an assortment– so in other words, instead of picking three meats, choose one meat (preferably a chicken choice, which is always a safe bet) one “starch” (maybe a potato pancake or a cheese puff) and a fish (mini crab/salmon cakes, fried shrimp). Although it may cost more, try to get at least  5 choices, just to broaden the offerings so as to be more robust.

Food Stations… Crudite, Raw Bars, Antipasto Platters, oh my!

BuffetEvery cocktail hour must have food stations in addition to butler-passed hors d’oeuvres for a well-rounded food experience. Typically there are are four standard types of food stations:

  • Raw Vegetables, aka Crudite – Usually consists of zucchini, squash, carrots, broccoli, and celery, served with a variety of dips
  • Raw Bar – Oysters, clams, shrimps
  • Antipasto – Salami, sopressata, roasted peppers, mushrooms, mozzarella, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and Greek olives
  • Cheese Boards – Imported and domestic cheeses with bread sticks and gourmet crackers and wafers

The Main Attraction…aka… The Entree


photo credit: via

Now we get to the “meat” of the menu (no pun intended)! This is where you develop a menu full of food choices for your guests that are inclusive of all tastes and preferences.

So what’s the easiest way to do this? Well of course, you won’t be able to cover every single person’s tastes or dietary requirements, but you can get as close as possible. Here’s a super simple formula:

Step 1

Choose four different entrees that span a selection of beef, chicken, fish and vegetarian options. 

For example:

  • Beef: Roast Prime Rib of Beef
  • Chicken: Roasted Free-Range Chicken with Rosemary
  • Fish: Oven-Crusted Salmon
  • Vegetarian: Wild Mushroom Farro Rissoto

Step 2:

Select at least two “sides”, choosing one starch and one vegetable.

For example:

  • Whipped potatoes, red bliss potatoes or rice pilaf
  • Green beans, spinach, or mixed vegetables

And voila! You’ve created your entree selections! (Btw is it me, or is anyone else hungry now?)

Choose a dessert… the “Piece de Resistance”!


photo credit: |

Well we all know the wedding cake is the main attraction for dessert, that’s a given, but some couples also opt for additional desserts to tantalize their guests. Here we say go for it, because as long as it’s dessert, it’ll be loved by all. Some ideas include:

  • Cake pops
  • Petit fours
  • Macarons (They’re all the rage now!)
  • Cookies
  • Brownies

And if you really wanna get jiggy with it, create a dessert station or a candy bar, they too are all the rage. The set-ups are gorgeous and they are never neglected! You can even design decorative bags stamped with your names and wedding date so guests can pack a snack to go and also have their wedding favor once they leave your reception.

So, are you ready to get started on that wedding menu? OK, then go get your food on, what are you waiting for, an invite? 🙂

2 thoughts on “Creating Your Wedding Reception Dinner Menu

  1. Pingback: how to choose an hors d’oeuvres menu for your cocktail hour | planning it all

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