How to Present the Perfect Wedding Dinner 

by TJ Cannamela

The dream of having a perfect wedding tends to become a little more discouraging when the planning details come into play. There's the gown, guest list, decorations, etc. But one of the biggest worries is how to make the best dining experience for everyone.

Food and drink account for about 40% of most wedding budgets, making this the most important aspect of your wedding planning. Choosing the right menu and presenting your wedding dinner attractively could make your wedding the best of the season. Read on for our top tips on how to present the perfect wedding dinner.

1. Choose an Experienced Caterer

The first tip for serving an amazing wedding dinner is to choose a professional caterer with a track record of excellence. Get recommendations from previous brides about caterers that they would recommend. Additionally, ask your event venue if they have an in-house caterer and whether there is a charge for external catering. 

Shortlist your choice of caterers to three highly recommended ones that fall within your budget. You can then meet with each one of them for a food tasting and to discuss their catering ideas for your wedding meal, as well as their terms and conditions. Choose the caterer that you resonate with most. 

2. Match Your Dinner Menu to Your Wedding Theme

The wedding dinner is the first and most important dinner party that a couple will ever host. Use the food for a wedding to showcase the bride and groom's personality, culture, history or favorite cuisine. When choosing your menu, remember to choose items that complement your overall theme. 

For instance, the couple may have met at a college down south so they could have a southern style wedding dinner. Choosing a unique wedding theme then aligning it with your dinner presentation creates a more cohesive and immersive experience. Don’t waste the opportunity presented by the wedding dinner to reveal more about the wedding couple to the guests. 

3. Serve a Signature Cocktail and Appetizers

One of the biggest complaints wedding guests have is waiting for hours for dinner. To combat this, have a cocktail hour to keep guests entertained and fed while the bridal party has their photo session. The appetizers should be finger foods that you can eat while standing. 

Great examples are spring rolls, chicken lollipops, mini quiches, etc. For the cocktail, create a fancy and colorful drink named after the couple. Matching the color of your drink to the wedding colors could increase the feeling of festivity. Remember to have non-alcoholic versions of your cocktail for guests that don’t drink. 

4. Choose Menu Items That Most People Can Eat

While it is great to surprise your guests with unique dishes they have never eaten, it is safer to choose items that are well known and loved. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on food that ends up in the trash because guests can’t eat it. Work with your caterer to come up with a menu that has recognizable and flavorful dishes. 

It is a good idea to send out menu options with your wedding invites so that guests can RSVP whether they prefer meat, vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan. This will help your caterer serve the right quantities of each item. Also, any guests with special meal requirements and food allergies can mention this beforehand. 

5. Choose Between Plated Dinner or Buffet

Another key consideration when deciding how to present your wedding dinner is whether to serve a buffet or plated dinner. Buffets are the best option for informal weddings, very large weddings or event venues that don’t have enough seating space for all the guests. Plated dinners are best for formal dinners and smaller events. 

In both cases make sure there is enough catering staff to serve the meals. A big mistake with buffets is having all the guests line up for food at the same time. This leads to long lines of angry guests waiting to be served. The caterer can have a waiter direct traffic by asking one table at a time to go get served. 

There is also a third style of presentation called the family-style dinner. This involves plating the different meal options in platters for each table and allowing the guests to help themselves from the platters.

Family style service saves a lot of time as compared to plated dinners or buffets. But it is also expensive as a lot of utensils need to be hired and portion sizes are harder to calculate as compared to plated service. Whatever method you decide on, the caterer should ensure that the food is beautifully presented.

6. Midnight Snack

Another great way to wow your guests is to save some of your food budget for a midnight snack. Guests start getting tired and hungry a few hours after dinner. This may be due to too much dancing or too much drinking. 

Offering a midnight snack can give your guests a second burst of energy and keep them partying longer. This will help your event to go down in their history books as one of the most epic dinner parties they ever attended. Ideas for a midnight snack include donuts and coffee, hot dogs and even tater-tots. 

7. Have the Caterer Assess the Venue Before the Wedding

Make sure that the caterer pays a visit to the event venue so that they can plan how to present the food. For instance, the table sizes may be too small to accommodate food platters so family-style service may not be an option. Also, the caterer may need power points for certain food equipment like plate warmers or soup bowls so a buffet may need to be set up close to a wedding PowerPoint presentation. 

Learn How to Serve the Perfect Wedding Dinner

Presenting a perfect meal at the wedding reception should be a top priority for wedding planners. Choose an experienced caterer that has received 4- or 5-star reviews from previous clients. Work with your selected caterer to come up with a simple but flavorful menu that complements your wedding theme. 

The food you serve should also show the type of couple you are and can even mirror aspects of your culture. For more creative ideas about what to serve your guests for the wedding dinner, contact us for dining assistance.