by Lauren Means
Planning for a wedding can be stressful but it should also be fun. Beyond the RSVP chasing, unexpected costs, and trying to accommodate everyone, there’s the food. The menu planning, the cake tasting, and of course, the bar menu. Something I learned while planning my own wedding is that it’s important to savor these moments and enjoy the journey. Here is some real-life advice from someone who’s lived through it.
First things first, you have to have a solid headcount and solidified a venue. Without these two items, any planning you do around food and drink will be for naught. Once you have those secured, you can start to decide the menu for the event. You must decide on the type of meal you want: a sit-down, formal dinner; a serve-yourself buffet; or a casual passed bites event. This can also depend on your venue. Some expect certain things like how food is served and some require the use of their in-house catering.
Dinner is Served
A sit-down dinner is more formal and traditional. Typically, you’ll meet with your caterer and pick two to three entree options and have people send their choice back with the RSVP for the wedding. You’ll need to spend time doing a seating chart, choose table settings, have a solid timeline and make sure everyone RSVP’s with their meal choice in time for the caterer’s deadline. For this option, you need hard guest count numbers.
A buffet is a more casual option. You pick the food you want to be served and it’s prepared in a larger quantity than single person plates. This option would be ideal if you don’t have a firm guest count, think you’ll have extra guests, or if you do not want the headache of a seating chart and confirming RSVPs. This allows people to eat as much as they like and could provide you with some leftovers to nosh on after the event.
For a more simple approach, you could opt for passed bites. If you’re wanting a shorter reception, this might be for you. With the help of your caterer, you’ll select a few amuse-bouches – single, bite-sized hors d’œuvres – that will be rotated around the room by servers. You can have some cocktail tables placed for people to stand around but typically there isn’t much involved with table settings.
There are some things to keep in mind regardless of the dining option you choose. Make sure you label foods with potential allergens. Steer clear of raw or unpasteurized foods to avoid food poisoning. If you are serving alcohol, you must serve some type of food.
Drinks on Me!
Speaking of alcohol, if you’re planning to incorporate it into your reception, plan wisely. Focus has spoken to caterers and event planners in the past and the most important advice is always about the planning. Ensuring you have the proper guest to bartender ratio will keep lines running smoothly. Also, making sure each server is Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) certified is key to a properly tended event. Your event planner or caterer should be able to guide you on these topics.
There are often questions on etiquette when it comes to open bar vs cash bar. Even on a limited budget, you can have alcohol without having to go the cash bar route. Offer beer and wine only or choose one or two hard liquors to pair with available mixers. Skip the champagne toast to save some money on your budget. Most people won’t even drink a full glass. Don’t get caught up in “Pinterest Perfect” signature drinks. While they can be fun, this can be cut if cash is limited.
If you choose a cash bar, that’s totally ok. This is your wedding. Just make sure to make a note of it on the invitation so people can come prepared with cash in hand. No matter how you handle the alcohol selection, make sure you have taxi and rideshare info posted in case someone celebrates a little too hard.
Let Them Eat Cake
My favorite part of the food planning was cake selection. Nowadays, there are so many options. From traditional tiered cakes to donut cakes, and even wedding pies, there is bound to be something for every palate.For our wedding, the tasting was not only important in the selection of the type of dessert but it was also like an interview of the person making our cake. For us, the cake was an expression of our journey to being wed. We wanted to make sure the baker was able to capture this.
During the tasting, we were able to try new takes on traditional cakes and even sample some original options. We decided on a more traditional approach but the sky was the limit. We also saved our top tier but it did not make it past the week after the wedding. Don’t be afraid to buck tradition.
For a listing of LGBT+ friendly vendors and planners visit our listing of #FocusFaves at directory.focusmidtenn.com