Choosing a menu tops the list when planning a terrific reception. Widen the possibilities from the standard roast beef and chicken (even though these are popular standards and may end up being your final choice).
You may want to look at interesting ethnic menus, either because your own ethnicity or because your tastes are sophisticated and your guests will expect something unusual. But take care. Your older guests may not be receptive to an entrée of spicy Thai food!
You are inviting your guests to share in a feast with you. It’s up to you to make it memorable.
Consider confining more unusual choices to your hors d’oeuvres. Your guests will enjoy sampling Chinese dim sum or an array of Spanish Tapas. Then you can choose a dinner menu that will suit a wider variety of tastes.
Quality, not quantity
Too much food and too many courses is not in tune with today’s lifestyles. Most people would rather have less food, but a higher quality.
Some chefs go as so far as to say that there is something vulgar in offering too many courses and then heaping plates with large portions. They suggest that the only justification for a five-course meal is it is part of your ethnic group that expects it and it is part of that tradition. In this circumstance, keep each of the five servings very small.
Sigh of the times
Most receptions start with the cocktail hour, which may have a full open bar or be limited to punch or wine. If you want to limit what is served, trays of drinks can be passed by waiters instead of serving from a bar. Each tray should have the choice of a non-alcoholic punch and a spiked punch. The hors d’oeuvres also would be passed on trays.
The popular three-course dinner
- The three-course dinner almost always is preceded by a cocktail party.
- The dinner’s first course is often a soup or salad, but considered an alternative: goat cheese and mango, hot spiced shrimp, or cannelloni with béchamel.
- The second course is the entrée, such as filet mignon, poached salmon, quail, veal or lamb. This plate will have a starch and a vegetable. Offer an interesting version of each, such as mashed, seasoned yams and grilled eggplant. Remember to organize a special menu for vegetarians.
- Dessert can be your wedding cake, or you may choose to have this later in the evening, with coffee and tea.