How to Pick the Right Wedding Menu

Food & Drink

The right wedding menu is an essential part of making your whole affair flow smoothly. If you're throwing a rustic backyard bash, a plated dinner might be too formal. On the other hand, if you're holding your reception in a grand ballroom, buffets are definitely apropos. Here, expert wedding planners dissect three menu options and for what wedding style they're appropriate.


"The most elegant option. Stick with three courses: soup or salad, a main course, and dessert. Anything more and guests get antsy."
—Laurie Arons, Laurie Arons Special Events

"Instead of standard chicken or beef, personalize the menu by asking your caterer to try a twist on a family recipe or a favorite dish."
—Maria Baer, Ritzy Bee Events


"Some couples love having guests get up to serve themselves. It encourages mingling." —Elizabeth Kalin, Betty Brooklyn Catering Co.

"Buffets require less staff, so they're often less expensive than plated meals. But budget for presentation; nice platters and florals will make it feel classy."
—Kelly Seizert, Ritzy Bee Events

Family Style

"When guests pass platters of food around, it feels more relaxed, but since there's no way to estimate portions, it can be pricier than a plated meal."
—Tara Maxey, Heirloom L.A.

"Our best advice: Serve a plated entrée (easier for the kitchen!) with shared side dishes for guests to pass around."
—Lauren Geissler, Downey Street Events

Now that you've nailed down your dining style, you'll need to stock the bar. We broke down how much booze you really need for your big day:

Open bar

This provides the most options for guests; choose it if you are willing to splurge.

Beer and wine

These options will satisfy most guests. If your VIPs must have a special scotch, buy a bottle and give them a password to use at the bar.

Signature cocktails

Offer two favorite cocktails to rep you and your groom. And if budget allows, spring for bubbly for toasts.

You Might Also Like:
Browse wedding flower ideas
Bouquets from Real Weddings
The Prettiest Wedding Bouquets of the Year

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from