Saturday, October 21, 2017
Tasteful Sit Down Dinner Reception Adds Creative Ideas
By Cheryl Tillman Lee (Family Editor)
Published August 13, 2009

This is a party where the guests are served at the table. It usually, but not always has a more formal feeling, and most of the time is preceded by a cocktail hour so the guests can mingle.

A sit-down reception provides for more organization. It is easier to get the guests attention when the traditional ceremonies, such as cutting the cake, are to begin. On the other hand some people feel the sit-down service tends to quiet a party down, and discourages people from mingling.

Buffet Receptions

A buffet reception is one in which the guests serve themselves. They may choose to sit at a table of their choice, or seats may be assigned.

The buffet table is arranged with a variety of food, and can be either round or oblong, with the food placed around the edge. It may also be rectangular with food served from behind one side, or with food displayed along both sides.

The way the tables are arranged will be determined by the area available and the number of guests.

Try to avoid making the guests wait in a long line. For a larger number of guests have two buffet tables, one at each end of the room.

Food Station Receptions

Another idea, which is unique and adds to the dŽcor of the area, is what is called food stations. They are smaller buffet tables, which are set up around the room, or in different areas of a garden. It is especially nice when each food station has a different theme and type of food. Decorate them with floral displays and unique serving pieces.

They will not only look beautiful, but are a fun way for the guests to eat, and will increase the mingling of the guests. Try a beautiful display of cheeses with breads and fresh fruits displayed in baskets, or an ice-carved boat filled with jumbo shrimp and crab legs.

Or you may add to this eating adventure a chef carving a roast, serving hot won tons from a wok, or a chicken crepe made right in front of the guests’ eyes.

Home or garden

Private homes and gardens can offer more flexibility with regard to personal desires and time schedules.

 However, the burden of coordinating is on you and may require the assistance of a wedding coordinator.

Â¥ Make sure the location can accommodate all your guests.

You can prepare the food;

Â¥ Depending on the type of reception, with the help of family and friends. This is one party you, your family and friends should enjoy. You will have enough to worry about.

Â¥ Discuss your desires with a few caterers to determine what costs are involved.

Â¥ Make a detailed list of all the equipment that will need to be rented, and determine the costs.

Â¥ Arrange parking. Is it adequate, or will you need valet service?

Â¥ Check the kitchen and bathroom facilities. Are they adequate or will portable stoves and toilets need to be supplied?

Â¥ Survey the lighting that is available. Is there sufficient electricity for outside lights or heaters?

Â¥ If planning a garden reception, make sure it can be moved inside, the area can be tented, or you have an alternative location in the event of bad weather.

Planning the Reception

There are a number of things to consider when planning your reception. Whether large or small, formal or informal, it is always best to have your reception immediately following the ceremony and to select a style that complements your wedding theme.

Other things to consider, besides your personal preference, are the number of guests you invite and your budget.

 Send a note letting your neighbors know that a wedding reception will be taking place, especially for an evening reception with a band. This may prevent any problems that might otherwise occur.

Reception Location Ideas:

Â¥ Church or Synagogue halls

Â¥ Private club facilities

Â¥ Community centers

Â¥ Elks or Women’s Club facilities

Â¥ Condominium or private estate clubhouse facilities.

Â¥ Museums

Â¥ Art galleries

Â¥ Historical buildings or mansions

Â¥ Public beaches and parks

Â¥ Public gardens

Â¥ Zoos or amusement parks

Â¥ Movie studio lots

Â¥ Private homes and estates for rent

Â¥ Wineries, ranches or


Â¥ Fairgrounds

Â¥ Racetracks

Â¥ Banks or larger lobbies of grand old buildings

Â¥ Civic or private theaters

Â¥ Bed and breakfast Inns

Â¥ Romantic restaurants

Â¥ Hotel ballrooms

Â¥ Yachts, boats or barges

Â¥ University facilities

Â¥ Military club facilities

Â¥ A romantic resort

Â¥ Your home or a friend’s home;

Â¥ Any place beautiful, interesting or romantic in your area.

Types of Receptions

If you have determined the time and style of your wedding and considered the number of guests and size of your budget, you probably have a good idea of the type of reception that will suit your needs and desires. There are various types of receptions.


A breakfast or brunch reception is nice following a morning wedding at 9 or 10 o’clock. This may be served buffet style, or the guests may be seated at specified tables.

If you choose buffet style, an assortment of fresh fruit, croissants, rolls and quiches, with a variety of cold cuts and cheeses are nice. Hot coffee, tea and fresh juice should be served.

With a sit-down breakfast you may want to start with fresh juice and fruit, then serve an omelet or eggs benedict with toast or rolls for the entrŽe. Hot coffee and tea are a must.

Pastries or a wedding cake should be served. Serving alcoholic beverages is optional but may include champagne, champagne punch, wine, screwdrivers or bloody Marys.


These are similar to brunch receptions and may be either sit-down or buffet style. They generally follow a late morning or high noon ceremony and are served between 12 and 2 p.m.

Buffet luncheons may include a variety of salads, such as, potato, fruit, chicken, pasta or vegetables with dip.

Poached salmon and shrimp are popular, but also expensive. Sandwiches, cold cuts and cheeses are often served, and are relatively inexpensive.

Your reception coordinator or caterer will have suggestions, according to your budget.

Serving champagne, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres while guests go through the receiving line may start sit-down luncheons.

Once the guests are seated, a white wine may be served with soup or salad to start. Then boned breast of chicken crepe or beef entrŽe with rice and vegetables is nice.

Serve coffee or tea with the wedding cake. Having an espresso/cappuccino bar, or offering chocolate cups filled with cordials adds a nice touch.

Tea Receptions

Tea receptions are generally held between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., usually starting not later than 3:30 p.m.

Coffee, tea or punch, both with and without champagne or wine, is generally served. Tea, sandwiches or other finger food, along with wedding cake, is the basic requirement.

This type of reception is the least expensive to have and perfect when there is a large guest list and a small budget. If held in a home or garden, this type of reception will cut down on rentals.

Cocktail receptions are held between 4 and 7:30 p.m. If only cocktails are being served, with no dinner to follow, the reception should start by 5:30 or 6 p.m. at the latest.

Usually champagne, wine, punch, or beer is served and in many cases there is an open bar, depending on the budget. Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres may be passed or set out on buffet tables.


A dinner reception is usually started sometime between 6 and 9 p.m. In many cases cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served in the first hour, with a sit-down or buffet dinner following.

Such cocktail service will add to your expenses. (To keep expenses down, offer wine and beer, rather than a full bar).

A cocktail hour of some kind gives people time to go through the receiving line and mingle with friends, especially when a sit-down dinner follows.

All perspective brides and grooms want to have wonderful lasting memories of their big day. One-way almost every couple commemorates their wedding is with a big album full of photos of family and friends. But what about the couple that wants a different spin on the usual wedding mementos, something that will be a truly unique-and with so many details to remember, so many things to do and so many people to see, it’s hard for you-and your guests-to get a full picture of all of the day’s events, to create a wedding CD.

Talking with your photographer about taking some digital photos at the wedding, or have a friend or family member do so as their gift to you.

Making sure the digital photos you use are 450-600 pixels in dimensions to fit most people’s monitors and 72 dots per inch (dpi) for monitor resolution.

After the wedding, plan out how you want the CD to work. Sketch a flowchart that shows how you want to group images and information together. Do you want to group items in chronological order as they happened that day? Do you want to group items by specific events, such as one page for the rehearsal dinner, one page for the ceremony, one for the reception and so on?

Using multimedia software, such as Macromedia Flash or Director, to create the CD. This type of software allows you to easily combine text, graphics, sound and video.

As you gather your photos, make sure you remember to properly title them within the CD. Years later when you look back on this, you’ll be thankful that names and dates are mentioned for the photos. You can even add special captions that truly personalize the photos and capture the emotions of those moments.

Whether you have professional photographs, a mix of professional and amateur shots, or snapping photos yourself on the big day, there are ways to make your photos look great.

“Watch what is in the foreground of the photograph and avoid anything that is distracting such as glasses or plates

Private Clubs, Hotels, or Restaurants

Â¥ These locations are probably the easiest to consider. They offer complete service and facilities and they will coordinate all phases of your reception.

Â¥ Make sure you see the actual room or location where the reception would take place.

Â¥ Discuss the menu selections and the costs per person of each. Does it include the cake?

Â¥ Make sure to check liquor and beverage fees. What is the charge per drink for an open bar? Is there a corking fee if you provide your own champagne? Do they charge extra to pour coffee with the cake?

Â¥ Find out what equipment is included, what will be extra and what will be rented; dance floor, microphone, etc.

Â¥ Check on music restrictions.

Â¥ Know exactly how long you may have the facilities.

Â¥ Make sure they have adequate serving people. Most commercial places add a service fee. Be sure to find out what they will be.

Â¥ See if decorations and flowers are handled separately or if they are provided.

The advantage with these locations is that the people are experienced, and relieve you of the burdens of coordinating the reception.

The disadvantages are that you must conform to their time schedule, and many times, to pre-established menus which allow little or no flexibility.

Although elaborate weddings are somewhat on the wane, but one thing for sure more couples are “tying the knot,” for richer or poorer, than ever before, according to statistics, it was reported that 2.4 million ceremonies have taken place, and there will be an increase in the coming years.

The months’ leading up to the wedding is a time of celebration and giving. A bride can look forward to a nice time for showers.

Traditionally an all-female affair, the word shower comes from the act of “showering” the bride with gifts, usually items needed to set up housekeeping. Today, shower gifts are not just for the home, and guest lists are not always made up of only women. Guests have the option of pooling their resources to present a prospective bride with gifts such as mixing bowls measuring spoons, cups, a mixer and recipe books lingerie, kitchen appliances, bedroom linen or other types of shower gifts.

The Wedding Cake

Besides the bride’s gown, the focal point of any wedding is the cake, whether it’s large or small, simple and plain, or created of many layers and a variety of flavors and fruits.

No longer restricted to white vanilla cake with a plastic bride and groom smiling from the top tier, today’s creations run the gamut of flavor and decoration. Now everyone looks forward to the moment when the bride and groom take center stage to cut the cake. The band strikes the familiar refrain, conversations come to a halt and the room stills to witness a ritual that in itself has produced many a tradition and superstitution. As bridal tradition change, people are delighted by cakes that depart from the expected.

Since the wedding cake is on display for all to admire and photograph, it’s ornamentation is of major importance. The cake’s decoration can be enhanced with flowers and the color palette of the bridal party bouquets and the bridesmaids’ dresses. Have your baker experiment with a variety of shade, much the same way the bridesmaids do to match their shoes to their dresses. There are also many different frosting motifs such as basket weaving, ruffles, garlands, shells, drop string sand beads to make wedding cakes beautiful and significant.

Guest count is usually unpredictable. People respond late, and sometimes not at all. A head count will determine such important decisions as the number and dimension of the layers wedding cake tiers are two layers high and are usually cut into 1 X inch slices.

Order a gown in a less expensive fabric. If the dress style you like is out of your price range, see if the dress can be made in a less expensive fabric.

Avoid expensive design changes. Find a gown that has the design elements you want, and avoid expensive changes such as changing the train length or style of sleeve. Minimize alterations. Keep alterations to a minimum; order the closest size to your largest measurement from the manufacturer’s size chart (each manufacturers’ size chart varies).

Many designers have both a high end and a lower end line of gowns, usually under a different name and using different quality fabric and lace.

Some designers have their gowns made. These gowns can be considerably less expensive because they are mass produced, rather than custom made when ordered.

Be cautious! Don’t order from hotel sales or people who ask for all the money up front, unless you leave with the gown; even then, inspect it. Even if the salesperson only requires a 50 percent deposit, be careful if he or she doesn’t have a store

Brides have been known to make a deposit on a gown, then never again see the person who sold it to them.

If you are average height and weight (five to eight). You’re lucky and can get away with almost anything you’d like. You may want to select something, which makes you look either shorter or taller depending on the groom’s height.

Fabrics usually change and are determined by the season.

Hire a professional seamstress. Having a seamstress design an original gown for you, or copy an existing design can save you money when you are considering purchasing an expensive gown.

Remember, a lot of fabric lace and labor goes into making a wedding gown. The one area you will save on is alterations, so consider this in your comparison.

Sew your own gown. If you, your mother or a friend has the time and a knack for sewing, this is a viable way to save money. Most large fabric stores have a section featuring bridal fabric, lace and patterns.

Be sure you can handle the job; wedding gown fabrics can be slippery, especially when dealing with the lengths required for bridal gowns. You don’t want to find yourself wasting a few hundred dollars on fabric and then end up having to order a gown anyway.

While making these plans, most importantly, have fun.

Categories: News (Family)

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