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Reception Types

When researching wedding reception ideas, the theme and style you choose will set the tone for your entire celebration. Although the choices are basic, every style can be revamped to reflect your personality. Here are the four most popular reception styles:

Seated Wedding Reception

You must have a location large enough for your seated reception. Tables surrounded by people seated on chairs and holding food, table settings and centerpieces need a lot of space. A banquet hall or hotel ballroom would be a traditional favorites for your wedding reception. Ideas to personalize your reception might include a color theme, winter or spring theme or even a destination theme, like Paris or Italy.

There are several service choices for seated receptions. In plated service, each plate is prepared in the kitchen and carried to the table. This risks the food getting cold while in transit. But you’ll need only one server for every 10 to 16 guests. In French service, food is prepared tableside, with additional servers placing food on each plate. With hand service, the server offers food choices to two guests at a time from a platter or basket. For Russian service, guests help themselves from a platter held by the server. These last three kinds of service can require a server for as few as every five or six guests.

To include your own wedding reception ideas, ask your caterer if the wait staff would be willing to dress up in traditional, or specialty clothes, that would match your theme – this is sometimes a fun and unique experience for your guests.

There are many advantages to the seated reception. These include:

The meal cost often is comparable to buffet or food stations.
There’s no juggling of glasses and plates, and each guest has a designated place to return to.
It allows more control over the timing of such events as the toasts, cake cutting and bouquet toss.
Seated meals give you and your fiance a chance to rest after a long day on your feet.

Buffet Reception

The buffet reception offers the advantages of a sit-down dinner with the mobility of a stand-up affair. It’s particularly effective for receptions with more than 150 or so guests.

Not only can you offer your guests a range of culinary options, the buffet lets you present the food in visually exciting ways that will only add to your wedding reception. Ideas for the buffet include echoing your wedding theme with decorations, ice sculptures and other creative touches. Also, some bridal couples offer different dishes reflecting their heritage, the food they most enjoy or traditional ethnic dishes from each of their families.

Cost, however, can be a factor. It’s important to keep a steady flow of food to the buffet, which can result in wastage. The cost per guest can end up comparable to a sit-down reception.

If you decide to formalize your buffet, have wait staff behind the buffet tables serve your guests. This also can cut the waiting time in line. Consider a seated cocktail hour followed by a buffet.

Stand-Up Reception

The stand-up reception encourages your wedding guests to mingle and get acquainted. It doesn’t have assigned seating and, because there are no lines to shuffle through or extended waits for service, they can eat, mingle, talk and dance as the mood strikes them.

Even though a stand-up features hors d’oeuvres and appetizers, the cost difference between it and sit-down usually is no more than three or four dollars per guest. These finger foods can be expensive because their preparation requires more labor and their ingredients are frequently costlier.

One of the hardest decisions when planning a stand-up is how much seating will be needed. Every guest will sit for a while. But if there aren’t enough seats for everyone to sit at the same time, you’ve guaranteed that there will always be guests up and moving. Unfortunately though, this can lead to some guests leaving your reception early. One stand-up wedding reception idea is to provide reserved seats for older guests and place small tables with chairs on the periphery of the space.

Since mobility is your goal, serve food easily eaten while standing. Provide a varied menu of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. Such choices help your guests enjoy the celebration.

At a stand-up reception, your guests not only have mobility, they have the chance to focus on you and your betrothed. And you can easily be approached by guests who otherwise must struggle toward and around the head table.

Food Stations

If you like the ease of a buffet, but not its lines, and if you find a sit-down dinner lacking in fluidity, food stations are a great alternative. They are the most popular kind of stand-up reception.

Food stations let guests take what and how much they want without standing in a long buffet line. They work best in larger, ballroom-size rooms that offer ample room for movement and to creatively position the stations. Food stations can cost as much as sit-down dinners or buffets. You also have less control over guests, who can get up and eat at their leisure. With a buffet or sit-down, you can better control your guests’ movements.

You can customize food stations to reflect your interests. Because each station features one food or group of foods, your reception menu can include a range of food not usually served together. Vegetarian stations are very trendy, as are seafood, pasta and salad stations. Another alternative is the mini-meal station that provides a small, but complete, meal.

Live-action stations manned by chefs also are a popular choice. At these, a chef creates dishes before your eyes.

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the various wedding reception ideas you will encounter as you research can help you make a more informed decision about your own wedding reception. Ideas are helpful, but you don’t be afraid to make changes to include your own personal style.

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