What's a Viennese Table? A Quick Guide to Some Confusing Wedding Reception Meal Terms

Etiquette

Confused by the latest wedding catering buzzwords? We don't blame you! From hors d'oeuvres to desserts, there are a lot of terms and phrases in other languages that are as puzzling as they are delicious. Here's an etiquette expert-penned list of terms to refer to (or ones you might hear) when selecting your reception food style.

American Plate Service
This is the classic, formal plated dinner. Food is artfully arranged on dishes by the caterer in the kitchen, then presented to seated guests.

English Service
This phrase may is not as foreign as it sounds. Once known as a "groaning board" of food set out after a hunt, caterers now refer to this spread as a buffet from which guests may help themselves.

Service à la Russe
Translated as "Service in the Russian style," this means that waiters serve from platters at the table. Each course is served sequentially; this type of service is popular at weddings with more than three courses. It's an alternative to the French style (Service à la française), which has fallen out of favor. This classical method involved presenting all of the courses (sometimes, as many as eight!) on the table at once. Though impressive, it's often impractical for dining.

Viennese Table
This is a big one right now! Many couples are opting for this extended dessert hour, which includes a sumptuous dessert buffet, including napoleons, mousses, petit fours, crème brulée, tarts, fruits, and ice cream. It usually occurs after the wedding cake is cut and served and is, unsurprisingly, a crowd-pleaser.

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