A LA CARTE Plated meals are best suited to more formal and traditional weddings – they offer a sophisticated, restaurant-style vibe and are a lovely treat for guests, who appreciate being waited on by catering staff. The meal usually begins with an entrée, followed by a main and dessert, but if you want more than three courses, a decadent degustationstyle menu might be an option. Your caterer will work with you to create a menu suited to your tastes and budget. As a rule of thumb, you should provide a choice of two entrées, three mains (one red meat option, one white meat and one vegetarian) and two desserts. The downside of à la carte meals is that they tend to be more expensive than other food-service options and there is often less socialising as guests remain in their seats.
BUFFET The classic buffet is perhaps the most flexible, cost-effective and social of wedding meals, and is suitable for both casual receptions and more formal affairs. Your buffet table can feature a selection of both hot and cold meats, salads, vegetables, breads and accompaniments, so it’s an effortless way to cater to your guests’ personal tastes and dietary requirements. Buffet cuisine can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish and can be customised to your budget. Guests need to leave their seats to serve themselves, so buffets work best in larger reception spaces where there is more room to move.
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SHARED PLATES AND TAPAS Banquet-style shared plates and tapas combine the flexibility of a buffet with the table service of à la carte – several large antipasto-style plates can be presented to each table for guests to plate themselves. This style of meal works well as it offers guests a variety of foods by bringing the buffet to them, at less cost than a full-service à la carte meal. Banquets also encourage social interaction as guests pass the plates around the table. However, you’ll need to ensure there’s enough food to go around.
CANAPÉS AND FINGER FOODS Canapés and finger foods are traditionally served straight after a ceremony to keep guests’ hunger pangs at bay prior to the main event, and can double as an entrée. To ensure your canapés hit the spot, they need to be bite-sized morsels that are easy to eat with one hand (your guests will likely have a glass in the other). As a rule of thumb, allocate three or four canapés per person per hour. However, if canapés are to be served instead of a main meal, bump it up to at least five, with one or two more substantial options, such as mini noodle or risotto boxes.
FOOD TRUCKS AND CARAVANS A food truck or caravan is an ideal option for couples who want something unique.They can be a fun and surprising addition to a reception while offering an interesting or bespoke menu. Sometrucks and caravans also serve gourmet ice cream, coffee and cocktails. Most require a minimum spend, agreed upon in advance.
SPIT ROASTS AND BARBECUES Wedding spit roasts and barbecues have come a long way – catering companies now offer an assortment of upscale culinary delights, from Asian-inspired salmon to organic pork and venison with a variety of accompaniments. Meals are served buffet-style so guests can pick and choose whatever takes their fancy. Best suited to casual outdoor weddings, spit roasts and barbecues are two of the most cost-effective forms of food services, depending on the cuts of meat selected.
PIZZA OVENS AND DIY STATIONS Like food trucks, pizza ovens and DIY food stations add an element of surprise and imagination to your wedding reception. Wood-fired pizza ovens can be hired for $200-$300, and ‘build your own meal’ stations are a cost-effective option for smaller, more intimate weddings. For health and safety reasons, you’ll need to enlist someone to oversee the stations.
BRUNCH OR LUNCH If you’re a couple that like to do things a little different, or are looking for a way to cut down your spending, a morning ceremony followed by a brunch or lunch reception is a great way to celebrate your nuptials. Welcome guests with a coffee cart and pastries, followed by fruit platters, pancakes, waffles and an omelette station. You could still have a moreformal sit-down affair with eggs to order. Save on the alcohol budget by serving delicious smoothies, fresh juice, mimosas and bloody marys.