Wedding Reception Food

Wedding reception food ideas to please your guests and fall within your budget.

Wedding Reception Food
From the moment a sparkling engagement ring is slipped onto the finger of an eager recipient, wedding plans take form and affect each other like dominoes. Whether you are hunting for that flawless wedding gown or deciding which floral bouquet really reflects your motif, choices are abundant and sometimes overwhelming. Planning food for a wedding reception is no exception.

With a variety of guests come a variety of tastes, and pleasing everyone, while still creating the effects and memories you most want, can seem daunting. By taking a look at your budget and what time of day you will be having your reception, wedding reception food ideas become a pleasure to consider.

Naturally, budget comes into play. Whether you are working with a tight budget or are able to throw caution to the wind, there are many wonderful choices. Once you determine the time of day for your reception, you will be able to make sound menu selections. The first question, therefore, is will your reception be a morning, afternoon, or evening affair?

Morning Reception

If you have chosen a morning reception you will have the breakfast or brunch option. This is generally a less expensive way to go, as you can serve the traditional morning foods (pastries, bagels, smoked salmon, cheeses, fresh fruit, omelets, pancakes, etc.). Although a morning affair may be more challenging for your traveling guests, it will give you the chance to leave for your honeymoon that day. Additionally, some people really appreciate an early start to the anticipated day, as opposed to having to wait for what may seem like endless hours to begin their celebration.

Mid-Day Reception

A mid-day reception will allow you to serve a more laid back, and not too costly, lunch menu. You can serve hot, elegant dishes or simply go with the timeless theme of sandwiches, salads, pasta and fruit. Mid-day receptions will allow for more travel time for guests who have decided not to arrive in town the night before your affair. Additionally, there is a lot of budget flexibility with a lunch menu.

Dinner Reception

The dinner reception, traditionally, allows for the most formal celebration. Generally this is the most expensive option. Of course, there are many choices for menu, serving style, and theme. You will need to decide whether you want a buffet, specific food stations, or a traditional sit-down meal. Guests will actually be more prone to dance and party at an evening affair.

Tea Reception

If you cannot afford a full meal at your reception, or simply are not inclined to have one, a tea reception is a nice choice. Tea receptions are the most economical choices for wedding receptions, as they can be elegant without demanding costly food choices. With finger sandwiches, candy, cake and some cookies, you are all set to have a simple, yet tasteful reception.

Once you have determined the time of day for your meal, you are ready to make menu choices. Do you have a wedding theme that will dictate or suggest specific food types when planning food for your wedding reception? This is not only a fun way to celebrate, but it actually narrows the food options and can make choices more manageable.

It is recommended that you get a quote per head based on several menu options. This will allow you to know up front what the final cost will be and help you to make the best decisions. It is also important to determine whether your wedding facility has a kitchen. Keep in mind that if your caterer needs to bring equipment your costs will rise. Do you want a buffet? There is a widespread belief that buffets are always a less expensive option. However, caterers may have to overestimate the amount of food that will be eaten in order to be fully prepared, and you are the one paying for the excess.


  • Allow for more food options.
  • Can be less formal than a traditional sit down meal.
  • Often have a creative and fun presentation of food.
  • Let your guests eat what they want in a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Do not mean that everyone has to get up (older guests, or guests with young children, can still be served at their table, by a waiter).
When planning food for a wedding reception, consider all of your guests and their special dietary needs. Within the tremendous realm of menu choices and presentation, it is important to have balanced meals as well as a vegetarian option. There should be at least one vegetarian meal choice at every celebration. It is also thoughtful to include those guests with special dietary requirements. Most caterers are prepared to serve some special dishes and should be amenable to this suggestion. With some careful planning, there will be food choices that can be enjoyed by all of your guests.

Wedding reception food ideas can offer an overwhelming number of options for your celebration. However, don't lose sight of the reason for your celebration. Hint: "It's not the food." Your guests will enjoy all of the food you serve, but they are there first and foremost, to celebrate your union and the enchantment of the vows you will share for the rest of your lives.

Written by: Carol S. Rothchild