Wedding Reception

Choosing food service for your

This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.

So, you’re working on selecting menu items for your wedding reception. You’ve already decided on passed hors d’oeuvres—crab cakes, stuffed button mushrooms, and fried mac and cheese balls just for a fun twist—and you’re thinking of serving a light garden salad and lobster bisque combo as an appetizer. But how do you deliver the main course to your guests? When it comes to the question of a seated dinner, a buffet, or a serving station is the best option for the main course, let’s just put it this way: you have yet to determine which food service option to say “I do” to at your wedding reception.

Passing the appetizers you want

Determining The Right Wedding Food Service Option

The size of your guest list, formality of your wedding, selected venue and catering company, and the time of day your wedding and reception will take place are all things to consider when choosing a food service style.

The Buffet

Let’s start at what is traditionally known as the most informal end of the spectrum—the buffet. Many couples who opt for a buffet lean toward this option due to their desire to see movement in the room throughout the evening, rather than a stagnant seated dinner that unfolds at a slower pace. If cost is a factor, buffets can also prove to be a more economical option as they do not require every guest to be seated at the same time.

Beautiful setup for sitdown dinner

The Seated Dinner 

For those who prefer more formal dining experience, or who plan to host 200 or fewer guests, seated dinners are an appropriate selection. Most frequently selected for black and white tie receptions, seated dinners are a full-service dining experience marked by pauses between courses. Generally speaking, seated dinners are more expensive because they require a chair for every single guest, along with chargers, stemware, flatware, individual menus, table numbers, additional centerpieces, a server for the table, plus a server for beverages.

Serving station for Indian food

The Serving Station

Stations are another option, and fall right in the middle of the food service spectrum on a scale ranging from informal to formal. Ideal for weddings with a large guest count, food stations are also an excellent option for those who wish to accommodate a variety of menu needs or preferences.

For example, an Indian family following a vegetarian diet can showcase the bride or groom’s heritage by serving traditional dishes while also offering more universal fare at other stations. Alternately, a couple hailing from New York and Texas can treat guests to his-and-hers stations bearing Manhattan clam chowder and cheesecake to represent his Brooklyn background, and barbecue and pecan pie as a nod to her Houston roots.

For both buffet dinners and food stations, signage helps to reinforce the theme and further acquaint guests with the couple’s background. You can accomplish this via large chalkboard menus at the head of each station or by putting individual menus on each place setting.

Dessert bar

The Hybrid Approach

The newest trend is doing a hybrid of food stations and seated dinners—ideal for the couple who wants the formality of assigned guest seating without limiting mobility throughout the evening. Just like at a traditional seated reception, each guest is directed to his or her assigned dinner seat via a place card. Following a welcome toast or prayer, wines are poured at the table and the first course is served by attendants. Afterward, guests are then dismissed to various food stations at their own pace. Another mix-and-match option is the family-style seated dinner, in which entrees are plated and guests help themselves to sides served on large platters. Although everyone has a seat at the table like at a traditional seated dinner, this casual style of dinner service is the furthest thing from stuffy—perfect for a ranch wedding or more casual reception environment.

Now that you have an understanding of the various food service options, all that’s left to do is finish up those menu selections. Enjoy your tasting appointments—and bon appetit!

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BIO: Led by founder Mary-Frances Hurt, DFW Events is a luxury event planning firm based in Dallas, Texas. Our hand-selected team excels in the areas of service, creativity, and communication. Whether you’re dreaming of a Dallas wedding, a destination “I do,” a country club soirée, or an event on a private estate, we have the experience, energy, and international design connections needed to convert your vision into an extraordinary celebration. Learn more: | Follow us on Instagram: @dfwevents

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The first dance at your wedding

Photo: Be Photography

This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime….

The first dance for any couple is one of the most important moments of their entire wedding – and with good reason! A lot of thought and emotion goes into picking that very first song and it has to be just right. Some couples go for a classic slow song, while others choose to choreograph a dance to something a bit more fast-paced. Both are personal choices, and both are always crowd pleasers!

Below, we have put together a list of ten first dance favorites that are often chosen by couples to dance to on their special day!

Make your first dance memorable

Top 10 First Dance Favorites

“Unforgettable” – Nat King Cole

This tune is the embodiment of a classic song that has stood the test of time, as it has remained a top choice for couples everywhere. If you and your partner are fans of a romantic melody, then why not say “I Do” to the emotional vocals of Nat King Cole? His crooning voice will surely fill your hearts from the first several bars.

“Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran

Newer to the scene, Ed Sheeran’s smash hit became an instant wedding classic, thanks to the loving words and singsong melody. I mean, the music video is all about a romantic dance between lovers! It is no wonder with beautiful lyrics like “Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars. Place your head on my beating heart.” We predict that couples will be dancing to this song at their wedding for years to come!

Center stage for the first wedding dance

“I Found You” – Alabama Shakes

If you are the type to have happy feet and the idea of a slow song doesn’t mesh with your upbeat personality, then you and your new spouse will love tearing up the dance floor with this faster paced crowd pleaser. This melody has been resonating with couples since its release in 2012 and continues to be a popular favorite.

“Stand by You” – Rachel Platten

Just released this year, “Stand by You” has already made quite the impression on couples planning their wedding in 2016 and all you have to do is listen to the words to know why. Rachel Platten’s gorgeous voice and upbeat melody have couples celebrating their love all across the dance floor.

Personalize your wedding dance

“You Are the Best Thing” – Ray LaMontagne

This was made for the soulful couple that prefers to enjoy a rich glass of red wine together alongside a blazing fireplace. It is full of sweet lyrics that couples can relate to when it comes to their feelings for each other and it will be sure to put a smile on everyone’s face – including the guests’!

“At Last” – Etta James

Heralded as the most popular first dance song ever, “At Last” remains at the top of everyone’s “must play” list. Etta James sure knew how to capture the hearts of couples in love all over the world with this one, and it is always guaranteed to bring a tear to everyone’s eye.

Pledge your love with a great song

“All of Me” – John Legend

Written for his fiancé (now wife), Chrissy Teigen, John Legend captures their sweet relationship perfectly with this slow and tender ballad. Couples everywhere swoon over his melodic voice and the obvious emotion behind it when he sings this song, so what better way to capture that same mood for a special day?

“Lucky” – Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat

A popular choice for beach weddings, “Lucky” has a fun and airy feel that couples with their feet in the sand love to dance to. This tune is certainly the way to go for lovebirds that truly are one another’s best friends, through thick and thin! As a duet, it could even make for a great choreographed dance between the pair.

Romantic first dance

“Rose of My Heart” – Johnny Cash & June Carter

For the couples that are prefer a more country and folksy sound, “Rose of My Heart” encapsulates the legendary love story between June and Johnny. Guests of all ages will love watching you dance to this tune and it is guaranteed to bring out the emotions on the dance floor.

“What a Wonderful World” – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole

A remake of the ever popular Louis Armstrong song, this Hawaiian version took the wedding industry by storm a few years ago and has become a favorite for many couples. The fun melody and Israel’s beautiful voice make it a great option for destination weddings and at-home weddings alike.

Play out your relationship in music

Why Pick Your First Wedding Song Carefully

The first dance song is a personal choice for every couple, so take your time when picking the very best tune for your celebration. Whether you share a favorite song from your first date or there’s a new single that just speaks to your relationship, remember that the song you choose will have a special place in your lives for years to come. Whatever you choose will be right for you – there is no right or wrong answer. Happy listening!

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Bio: Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, Calif. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.


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