Welcome to the culinary runway, the entire reception dinner, including cocktails and hors d’oeuvres has become a creative, artistic way to express your palate and your caterer’s expertise and innovation. Caterers are truly transforming the wedding menu into culinary art; as much attention is given to presentation, as it is to taste. Classic entrees like chicken will always have their place, but caterers are also making room for caviar and smoked salmon, sea bass and lobster.
Flavorings such as lemongrass and cilantro, as well as the distinct tastes of grilled and wood-fired entrees and vegetables are also emerging as contemporary, cutting-edge elements of the wedding dinner.
Making up typically a quarter of your wedding budget, the design you and your caterer create for the wedding dinner is all about how much importance you place on it. For your role as a host, you want to give your guests a memorable meal that will set the stage for your reception. In the first meeting, before you discuss menu specifics, gauge how much the chef’s style and work will blend with your vision.
One of the first discussions you’ll have will be about the meal presentation, and there are several options to consider. The traditional seated meal includes several served courses and is usually preceded by a cocktail hour, while buffets and action stations allow the guest to browse and choose from an assortment of dishes. You can opt for a served first course to get guests ready for the initial reception activities. Food stations are an increasingly popular option, and can be an enticing, visual experience for your guests. Several food areas are offered, with chefs creating their mouth-watering masterpieces at each: think fresh pasta and wood-fired pizza at one station, roasted vegetables and potatoes at another. A cocktail reception features butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and encourages guests to mingle.
Discuss how different wines will complement your meal and engage the services of a wine expert if your caterer has one. A final tasting several months before the reception will give you a clear idea of what to expect. Often caterers will also re-create the seated table service to give you a complete picture of the presentation.