Post # 1
Hello all! This is my first post… and I really could use your help!
My fiancé and I live in Minnesota, but 70% of our guests will be coming in from out of state (he is from AZ & KS, my family has disbursed to everywhere but here). That being said… I really, really want a hors d’oeuvres reception. I’m completely okay w/having lots of options and lots of pieces per person; I just want to make sure that it is acceptable to not serve a formal sit-down dinner with so many of our guests having to travel here for the wedding.
A few of my friends/family members have chimed in, but there has not been a consensus formed. The biggest worry the critics have is that the guests will go hungry… Not the case! I plan on at least 4 hot options, 4 cold options, a taco/nacho bar and perhaps even a carving station. I don’t plan on skimping at all on the food, I just don’t like the formality of the sit-down dinner. We want a fun, cocktail party atmosphere rather than an hour wasted of salad – then chicken – then cake.
Post # 3
I think the time depends more than if they are coming from out of state. If it’s at a meal time, I’m going to want a meal if I came from across the state or down the street.
Is there going to be enough places for everyone to sit? I don’t think that people are going to want to be eating nachos standing up.
Post # 4
even if it is hor d’oeurvres style food maybe you can have it as a buffet type especially since you are thinking about including a carving station and so many different options. unless you are planning on doing this as a passed hor d’ouervres.
Post # 5
I think it really depends more on the time frame, if your guests will have time between the wedding and the reception to grab a bite to eat, then you’re totally good, or if they’ll have time after. Are you doing out of town bags? Maybe include some snacks or a list of local restaurants!
Post # 6
It seems as if you have tons of options there so I’m sure everyone will be fine.
You may want to mention something about it in your invites (heavy hors d’oeuvres) just so people don’t expect a dinner. I think a sit down or buffet dinner is expected at any wedding that occurs at dinner time unless otherwise stated – but so long as you have enough food I don’t think people will miss it.
I like cocktail style receptions because they allow people to socialize more.
Post # 7
Heavy hors d’oeuvres v. sit-down meal is just a way to convey food. If you are serving enough food for it to be a meal, I think you are good.
Though, in full disclosure, this is what I’m doing. Fiance and I wanted something…different. The sit down meal at assigned tables really isn’t us, but a super casual buffet where everyone just loads a plate and sits around eating isn’t what we were looking for either. We prefer to call our reception “strolling tapas.” We are providing a variety of seating options (8 tops, cafe style, standing tables with bar stools, picnic tables outside, lounge seating, etc.) and we are focusing on creating an atmosphere that encourages mingling and revelry. We are also spacing the food out over 3 hours (cold buffet, then hot passed items, then a small plate for each guest with several finger food tapas, then dessert buffet) so that there isn’t a chow-lul.
If you are going for a hip, informal elegance, I think this is a good approach.
Post # 8
My sister had a reception like what you are saying, it went over normal dinner time and lots of guests travelled to be there. There was SO MUCH FOOD. Not quite enough chairs, which I think someone else mentioned – I think that’s very important to consider too! Otherwise I wouldn’t worry as it’s a great way to feed people and keep the party going.
Post # 9
We are doing something like you are describing. Most of our guests will have a 3 hour each way travel, and our ceremony is at 7pm, reception at 8pm. We indicated it is a cocktail-style reception on the invitations, so they got warning. There is going to be a ton of food. 3 passed cold options, 3 passed hot options, cru d’ete display, cheese and pickle display for the first 2 hours, grilled sliders and fries and flambayed prawns for an hour in the middle (overlapping passed hor d’oeuvres and desserts), and at the end of the evening (last 2 hours) a fruit display, finger desserts, and cupcakes and wedding cake.
I think people won’t be going hungry, and it is more “our style” to mingle the whole evening than the formal seated meal!
Post # 10
This sounds more like a buffet dinner reception, which I think will be fine! As long as no one goes hungry and their is plenty of food, I think it should be fine. I’m planning a reception where the guests are 100% out of town so I’m doing a full dinner, but this sounds like less of a budget concern and more of a formal vs. informal concern. Should be fine, I think!
Post # 11
Thank you all for helping!!
As for setup: Yes, there will be normal banquet seating w/rounds of 10. The hors d’oeuvres would be setup on sort of buffet style (think potluck @ the office, minus all the CrockPots ).
I want a late wedding. Ceremony around 6pm, Cocktail ‘hour’ w/2 light passed options from 7 – 8, then actual reception starting @ 8. We (I) just really wanted more of a mingle atmosphere rather than the normal, stuffy reception… Especially since so many people are coming from so many different places, and most fo the people will only know a handful of others.
Ugh! Again, thank you guys! You are making me feel SO much more confident in my decision!!
Post # 12
we’re doing this and while it did take a while to sell the ‘adults’ (yes, i’m 34 but i’m still not one of them!) on it, its just so much more our style. and – shocker – we’re not having any stations, save for the cheese & port pairing & dessert/candy buffet towards the end of the night… we’ve talked to others who have done this wedding with our caterer before and they’ve all assured me that there will be PLENTY of food, so its all good 🙂
some people will complain no matter what you do – anyone with a positive attitude and an open mind should have a great time – dont worry about the debbie downers!!!
Post # 13
Just because someone is coming from out of state does not mean you are required to serve a full meal at your reception if you don’t want or can’t afford one. It’s not rude either, even though some believe it is. You offer what you can afford at the appropriate time of day and if someone is upset, that is their problem.
The confusion comes from many people believing that they will only be served finger sandwiches and fruit trays during the dinner time, which does not fill anyone up. Heavy appetizers is much different and is actually filling enough that people can make a full dinner from 15-20+ pieces per person and go home stuffed. That said, there is no reason you can’t serve heavy appetizers during the dinner hour, regardless of where your guests are coming in from. If they choose not to eat what you have graciously offered them, that is not your responsibility, nor have you underfed them as some people may claim.
Be aware though, especially if you go through a catering company, that heavy appetizers, especially the amount you will need during the dinner hour, will cost much more than a regular plated or buffet dinner. This is because you are offering more food. To compare, a plated meal is the equivalent of 4-6 pieces per person of heavy appetizers, while a heavy appetizers reception is a minimum of 15-20 pieces per person. If someone goes home hungry after that, again it is not your problem. If you are on a budget, you can still do this easily by shopping the frozen section at Costco, as their heavy appetizers are very inexpensive and filling.
Also, there is alot of confusion as to what a heavy appetizer is. Many people are convinced it is finger sandwiches and fruit trays and nothing at all more substantial than that, hence the backlash saying you are starving your guests. An example of a heavy appetizer is a carving station with rolls to make sandwiches, eggrolls, potstickers, coconut shrimp, chicken tenders, etc.
Post # 14
I think hors d’oeuvres are fine, if it’s not meal time (or early) and there’s LOTS of food and enough seating for everyone. The receptions that have bugged me as out of town guest are when the hors d’oeurves are served instead of a meal, at meal times, because they really don’t fill you the way a meal would, even if there’s LOTS of food. And after those receptions I usually want to pick up ‘real food’ at a restaurant, which gest tricky if it’s nine or ten at night.
It also drives me crazy when there’s not enough seating at receptions. That’s not related to your question though, just a pet peeve, haha.
Post # 15
There is nothing wrong with heavy appetizers during a meal time. Make sure you have at least 20+ pieces per person, which is at least 3x the portion of a plated meal. If your guests are still hungry, that is on them for not eating enough of what was offered. Also, call it dinner on your reception card (which is what it is, just in bite size portions) so people know not to eat ahead of time, thus preventing your food and money from being wasted because they all think they will be starved otherwise.