CATERING IDEAS by Frances King
Many people cannot
afford a lavish four-course sit down dinner or a full buffet feast for their wedding or
event. In most cases, the food and beverages are the largest expenses of a wedding or
party. You need to consider the time of the day of your reception or party. The time of
your event plays an important role in the type of menu that you are planning. Your guests
will expect different types and amounts of food depending on the time of the day of your
Breakfast 9:00 a.m. to
Brunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Lunch 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
High Tea/Snacks 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Dinner/Cocktails 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Passed or Stationary Hors d'oeuvres 8 p.m. and later
Dessert 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
If you cannot afford
a fully catered event here are some low-cost party ideas. Do not forget to serve beverages
and wedding cake if you are getting married. Even the simplest of foods can appear special
when presented with flair. In addition, time of year and the corresponding temperatures
should be a large factor in menu planning. Generally buffets are cheaper than sit-down
meals because the caterer has to provide less waitstaff.
A Tea Reception
A tea reception is
inexpensive and it should be held between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tea and coffee is served with
a variety of "tea sandwiches" also known as "dainties." The crusts are
cut off of these small sandwiches. Tarts, scones, and pastries may be served, as well.
Make sure that you add "Tea Reception Following Ceremony" on your wedding
A salad luncheon
reception is wonderful if your wedding is late morning. In addition, this type of meal is
cheaper than a sit-down meal or buffet. Offer a wide selection of salads such various
pasta salads, potato, rice salads, Chinese salads, coleslaw, fruit salads, gelatins with
fruit, and green salads. Provide a few salad dressings, fruits, and breads. Include
Salad Reception Following Ceremony" in your invitation.
Reception or Deli/Party Trays Reception
This type of
reception/event is appropriate between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. or after an evening wedding.
Provide light finger foods such as chips and dips, fruit and vegetable platters, cheeses,
and crackers. Write "Light Hors d'oeuvres Reception Following Ceremony" on the
invitations. If you would like to include more substantial foods that are more filling
include meat and cheese trays, shrimp cocktails, oysters, egg rolls, sausages, chicken
wings, and tea sandwiches. Include "Hors d'oeuvres Reception Following Ceremony"
if you are serving appetizers with meats.
and Cocktail Reception
This type of reception or party is similar to the one above in regards to time and menus.
However, you are serving hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages. Include
"Hors d'oeuvres and Cocktail Reception Following Ceremony" on your invitations.
Request your caterer to include bartending staff.
Reception or Dessert Party
This type of reception is suitable between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or after an evening wedding.
Serve an extensive assortment of rich desserts such as cheese cakes, tarts, tortes,
cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, cobblers, biscotti, ice cream, sundaes, and candies. Serve
coffee, tea, and other beverages. Add "Dessert Reception Following Ceremony" to
A Simple Cake and
You can "Let them eat cake" as long as your event is not during a normal
mealtime. Have a simple but elegant cake and punch reception. It must be planned for the
mid morning, for the mid afternoon, or for after an evening wedding. In addition, you may
include some candies, cookies, and nuts to the menu. Be certain to include "Cake and
Punch Reception Following Ceremony." This will inform the guests ahead of time not to
expect a full meal.
Considerations Location/Rental Equipment
Does the site include tables or chairs or do you have to rent them? Do not forget that you
many need to rent tents, linens, and kitchen facilities. You many cut costs by using paper
and plastic goods instead of glassware, china plates, cloth napkins, and silverware.
of the Event
How long is the event? If the event runs over you may have to pay overtime charges. How
long do you have the reception site/facilities for? Does the time of the rental of the
site and the waitstaff include the time of the set-up and clean up? Ask you caterer to
start cleaning up while your guests are still there. If you cannot afford waitstaff
consider ordering drop-off food or self-serve buffet food. Or you can have your friends
pick up some deli trays or take out food and set up the food with their assistance.
Article contributed by Frances King
Moosetta's Creative Catering