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When it comes to hosting a wedding, your largest expense will probably be your menu. The type of menu you set is based on a few things, such as the season of your wedding, the service style you choose, and how much you're hoping to spend on each guest.
Perhaps your biggest challenge when choosing a menu is deciding what style you want to serve your food. There are more main style options, and each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Evergrove Estates offers all three of these options through our in-house full-service catering staff.
Plated dinners are the most formal style of dining for a wedding and are most often chosen for evening weddings where a full dinner is served. With a plated dinner, there will usually be two to three options for your guests to choose from. Your wedding invitation will include a menu card or online option for your guests to submit their chosen meal as well as any dietary restrictions.
With a plated dinner, there’s no question as to if you will have enough food for your guests. Everyone who RSVP’d will have a seat at your reception and a plate to go along with it. Your guests will also know the type of food to expect when they arrive, which can help them plan out their activities and meals for the day. Oftentimes, guests will show up to a wedding without knowing what they will be served, so they either overeat or undereat before they arrive to your celebration. With a plated meal they have to choose, there’s no question as to what they will be fed. In addition, plated menus have a better chance of adjusting to each guest's allergies. For example, a gluten-free guest may be able to have their plate prepared separately and with gluten-free ingredients. This way, guests with allergies are not left wondering what they can and can’t eat at your wedding.
While plated dinners are a great option, they do come with their disadvantages. In order to keep everyone’s items straight, you’ll need to create a seating chart and a way to distinguish what each guest chose for their meal. This puts a little bit more stress on the bride and groom since they have to choose who sits where. Also, it’s almost inevitable that one person or family that will show up that forgot to tell you they planned to, or someone who forgot to make their menu selection. A plated meal can complicate the logistics of getting a guest seated who didn’t RSVP.
Hors d’Oeuvres, or “pass around” as they are often called, are great for early afternoon cocktail weddings. With this style of menu, waiters will walk around your reception with small, bite-sized options for your guests to snack on. While it’s not super common anymore, hors d’oeuvres used to be the chosen menu style for lots of weddings.
When it comes to hors d’oeuvres, you eliminate a lot of the menu planning difficulty. There are no real tables, so there is more room for dancing and movement. If you have last-minute guests that forgot to RSVP, it’s no big deal since you’re simply serving appetizers. Your catering company often allows you to choose quite a few pass-around options, so those with allergies or dietary restrictions can simply pass up what they can’t eat.
A disadvantage of hors d’oeuvres-style menus is that your guests do not get a full meal’s worth of food. If your wedding is during dinnertime, your guests may show up hungry. If you plan to only serve hors d’oeuvres for your wedding, it may be a good idea to give your guests a heads up so that they can plan their daily meals accordingly.
Buffets-style meals are great for more casual weddings, or for those that don’t want to go through the trouble of having guests choose their meal and creating a seating chart. With a buffet-style, each guest heads up to the buffet and chooses what they want to eat.
Buffet-style meals can be super cost-effective and overall better for everyone involved. The hosts pay for a certain amount of each main dish and side, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Your guests can decide which dishes they want and which they don’t. This menu style can be especially good if you have a lot of diversity in your guest list, especially with age range.
On the other hand, many wedding guests take issue with buffet-style meals. The bride and groom will have to choose the order in which tables approach the buffet, leaving the last table to get their food with the leftovers. Oftentimes, the first table to receive food will be done eating before the last table even approaches the buffet. In addition to this, buffet-style meals typically do not come with seating charts, leaving your guests to find their own seats. Although you may think you have enough seating for everyone, families of four or six may take tables of eight or ten, leaving just a few seats left over. Since most people will not just sit down with people they don’t know, this setup leaves some guests without seats.
Your menu should, at a minimum, reflect the theme of your wedding. For example, a black-tie wedding with a BBQ menu wouldn’t look right. On the other hand, a laid-back daytime wedding serving a plated lobster dinner doesn’t work either. Most caterers and venues will work with you to determine the best menu for your wedding and your guests. If you’ve chosen a nautical theme, it’s smart to serve various seafood options, such as shrimp pasta. If you’re leaning more toward a spring wedding with beautiful colors and. florals, you may want to settle on a lighter menu with summer salads and lots of fruit. Regardless of the menu you choose, you want to make sure it reflects the overall vibe of your wedding.
The menu you ultimately decide to go with may be heavily impacted by your budget. For most wedding caterers, you pay by the head regardless of how much food one person may or may not eat. The more involved your menu is, the more you’ll pay. A plated dinner is usually the most expensive option, followed by a buffet or family-style, and finally hors d’oeuvres.
At Evergrove Estates, there is a minimum of $35 per guest. This price can include a combination of cocktail hour and reception food but does not include drinks. Hors d’oeuvres is the least expensive option, starting at $3 per item per person. Plated dinners, on the other hand, are considered an upgrade and will come with extra costs. Our full menu of offerings and prices can be found here.
Most venues and catering companies take drinks into account completely separate from the dinner, and we are no exception. If you’d like alcoholic beverages to be served at your wedding, you have to factor that into your budget as an extra expense. At Evergrove Estates, there are multiple ways to go about building your bar. You can choose wine, beer, liquor, or a combination thereof. It’s important to remember that if you’re hosting an open bar, you pay for all of the alcohol up front.
We operate slightly differently than some other venues because you pay by the glass of wine, beer, or drink. Depending on your crowd, we can help you determine how many of each you will need. Evergrove Estates also offers two different options for cash bars. With option 1, the bride and groom pay for wine and beer, but guests who want liquor will have to pay for each drink. For option 2, the bride and groom pay a certain amount for alcohol, and once that threshold is reached, guests become responsible for their own drinks. Whichever drink option you and your future spouse decide to go with, make sure you assess the personality of your guests and what you expect them to enjoy the most. You can see all of our drink offerings here.
Evergrove Estates owns two beautiful venues you can choose from for your special day - Cedar Hall and Heartwood Hall. We also offer plenty of dining and drink options through our in-house catering staff. No matter what kind of wedding you plan, Evergrove Estates can make sure your day goes off without a hitch.