Meal or hors d'oeuvres?

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happydefiant1 Posts : 223 Registered: 7/9/09
Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 12:06 PM

We're planning for our wedding to begin at 5:30 or 6:00 (we haven't fully decided yet) and so that puts our reception tentatively in the 6:00 range. There is an hour or less of cocktails while the wedding party arrives and guests gets situated. Our dilemma is: will hearty hors d'oeuvres (not veggie trays or mini sandwiches) be enough to satisfy our guests once the actual reception starts or must we do a meal? Only beverages will be served during the cocktail hour.

We don't want to short our guests by not providing a meal and I believe many will expect a meal due to the time of the wedding. However, the hors d'oeuvres we have in mind would be items such as swedish meatballs, veggie flatbread, crab stuffed cream puffs, bacon wrapped chicken, etc. Would these passed hors d'oeuvres be sufficient? We do not want to disappoint our guests by not having a meal, but the hors d'oeuvers are more appealing to us than a single meal which guests may not like and we do not want a buffet.

I've heard that the hors d'oeuvres route is less expensive. Anyone have experience with this? Would the hors d'oeuvres be equal in price to a plated meal? We are planning to do the catering ourselves.

Would it be strange to serve a salad and passed hors d'oeuvres?

Thanks for your input!!



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CheetahAngel Posts : 2,017 Registered: 11/29/08
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 12:23 PM Go to message in response to: happydefiant1

I think having hors d'oeuves is fine. Just put on the invitations: heavy hor d'oeuves will be served following the ceremony. That way the guests will come prepared to not eat a full meal. For my own reception I was considering doing a heavy hor d'oeuves reception but then I realized that the price will be the same as a full meal! So instead we are having a sit down meal with 3 choices: beef, chicken, and fish.
                           
  

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myra Posts : 5,550 Registered: 3/28/06
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 12:33 PM Go to message in response to: happydefiant1

The only way that you can know for sure what the pricing will be is to do some comparison shopping with potential caterers. Many people have found that the heavy appetizer route is every bit as expensive as a plated meal.

My feeling is that, given your timing, guests would prefer a "meal." Whether this is seated, stations, or buffet (what is your objectiion to a buffet?), you need to feed them well, or your reception very well might be shorter than you'd like it to be. Remember, good food and good conversation are part of the 'entertainment" at most weddings.
myra at www.classysassyweddings.com

Edited by: myra on Nov 12, 2009 7:24 PM

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happydefiant1 Posts : 223 Registered: 7/9/09
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 1:55 PM Go to message in response to: myra

My feelings is that, given your timing, guests would prefer a "meal." This is my belief as well. I've asked my FIL's, because majority of the guests will be from their side, and they feel that hearty hors d'oeuvres would be fine, but even still, I don't want guests to be disappointed.

what is your objectiion to a buffet? FH and I have never liked the buffet set up, we don't even eat buffet in our normal daily life. I don't like the shuffling through stations and lines tend to build, even at weddings I've attended when they go up table by table. When we think of buffets we envision unhygenic eating atmospheres, like in poorly maintained restaurants. I think its our public experiences with this that make us dislike it. If we serve a meal, it will be plated and served to them at the table.

your reception very well might be shorter than you'd like it to be - one of my bm's expressed this. She said they might get hungry and leave to eat. Which is why we are considering hearty hors d'oeuvres over light finger foods. But, like Cheetah metioned, I think the pricing will probably be very similar.

Remember, good food and good conversation are part of the 'entertainment" at most weddings. - I agree to some extent. Food is important but, we don't want our reception to be meal or food focused. The reason for attending is not to eat but instead to celebrate. We are providing all beverages and will have a live band and DJ. We want it to be more of a social event and hors d'oeuvres seem to fit the atmosphere we're trying to create....

Thank you Cheetah and Myra!!

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 1:58 PM Go to message in response to: happydefiant1

I wouldn't have a problem with heavy hors d'ouevres rather than a full meal, but I think you should take several factors into consideration:

1) Let guests know ahead of time. Wording on your invitations like 'Hors d'ouevres and cocktail reception to follow' would be fine. That way, people will not come super-hungry. Also, when they see the hors d'ouevres, they will eat enough since they will not be expecting a full meal afterwards. If I did not know that a reception was hors d'ouevres only, I would assume that there would be a full meal served later and I wouldn't eat many hors d'ouevres. (We actually had the opposite experience at a recent wedding. There were so many hors d'ouevres that we figured that was the whole meal and ate more than we would normally eat during a cocktail hour. We were very suprised a while later when we were ushered into another room for a seated meal. I was SO full I had to digest for a while before dancing and could barely eat any cake later!)

2) You mentioned passed hors d'ouevres and you said that you don't like buffets. I would STRONGLY suggest offering stationery hors d'ouevres stations, not just passed ones. My experience with passed hors d'ouevres is that I rarely get more than one or two pieces of whatever is being passed. Even if the servers circulate really well, can you guarantee that they will get to everyone and offer them enough food for a full meal? I would get some stationery hors d'ouevres, just to be on the safe side. That way, people can serve themselves if they're hungry and they haven't seen the guy carrying the bacon-wrapped scallops in a while.

3) Provide plenty of seating, even if you don't serve a full meal. When I'm at a wedding or another event (dressed nicely and wearing heals), I HATE having to eat standing up. I'm trying to balance a plate of food (sometimes with a fork), a drink, programs or whatever else you've given me to carry around, a useless small purse, sometimes a shawl or wrap - all without spilling on myself or other people. Oh yeah, while wearing shoes I'm not used to. If I can find a seat anywhere, I'm sitting down and not moving until the end of the night - which means that nobody else is getting my seat. Don't count on people wanting to stand or sitting in shifts. Please provide a seat for every butt! :)

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 2:57 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

Agree with all Art just suggested. Especially the stationary stands AND chairs for everyone. I'd leave early if I had to stand the entire night, in heels I rarely wear, holding everything. And, I've been to many events with passed trays and rarely get more than one or two tiny items. They were making the rounds frequently, but there are some people who have no problem grabbing a ton of stuff at once (emptying the trays quickly) and I am not one of those people. I take one thing, and then wait till they come around again. So I really think you'll have happier guests if you have a combination of stationary stands and passed trays.

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FutureMrsBentley Posts : 14 Registered: 8/31/09
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 3:51 PM Go to message in response to: cyndi33

You could also do food stations. It has the same feel an hors d'oeuvres cocktail party but it is more substanial.

Also think about how long you want people to stay. If you want to celebrate until 1 am then you should serve a full meal.

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happydefiant1 Posts : 223 Registered: 7/9/09
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 5:06 PM Go to message in response to: FutureMrsBentley

Art and Cyndi-

1) Let guests know ahead of time. I agree completely! FMIL suggested I add a line to the invite stating that hors d'oeuvres would be served. I'm going to look up the appropriate wording for that in case we go this route. We are still considering a meal...

2) I would STRONGLY suggest offering stationery hors d'ouevres stations This is a very good idea. We may incorporate this with the passing. I like the passing because it is convenient for guests who are chatting or mingling.. but, having a station for those who miss the pass would be nice.

3) Provide plenty of seating, even if you don't serve a full meal. I know exactly what you mean about standing for long periods in heels. We want our guests to be comfortable and have a place to relax if they need to. Our venue provides seating for 200 guests, but we're only expecting about 75-100. We will have place cards for every guest who RSVP's so everyone is guaranteed a seat

Thanks so much! It's good to know that hors doeuvre's are an option for an evening wedding if done correctly.

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TanisJ Posts : 2,669 Registered: 4/25/07
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 5:22 PM Go to message in response to: happydefiant1

I can't believe I am the only one who caught this:

We are planning to do the catering ourselves.

Doing your own catering is an incredible amount of work. How many people do you have to prepare and serve the food? Are any of these people experienced at cooking for large numbers of people? Do you have enough servers to consider having the appetizers passed? Appetizers are probably even more time consuming to prepare than a plated meal.


I think this much change the dicussion consierably!

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happydefiant1 Posts : 223 Registered: 7/9/09
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 5:49 PM Go to message in response to: TanisJ

Tanis,

I was also surprised that no one else commented on the fact that we are 'planning' to do the catering ourselves!! It is a lot to take on. My mom's good friend is a caterer and so I have been in the bustle of it before. But, I'll be too busy to worry about this on top of everything else. Even though I'm sure its possible (I think another bride on here did her own catering, but I can't remember who it was....) We may have some church volunteers, who have done events like this before, and so that is who would be preparing and serving the food. We would be purchasing and providing all the food items and supplies needed.

That being said, we aren't 100% on doing it ourselves.We're just weighing our options



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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 6:11 PM Go to message in response to: happydefiant1

Tanis, WOW, I missed that too, and do not recommend following through with that, particularly if you have having passed trays. I can just imagine any number of htings that could happen. I don't think it's a good idea. If you have professionals, I think it's doable in a way that your guests would enjoy. What about hiring your mom's friend, a professional? And, if you have concerns about buffets not being food safe/unsanitary, hiring people who are not professional is just flat out not safe. I don't know, missed it, and wouldn't do it. sorry, just I use to work for the department of health. There are a TON of requirements, and things people just don't know, wouldn't know, and volunteers from your church (unless professional food preparers and servers, ie, caterers) not likely to know these food safety rules either, or follow them. Plus, don't the people from your church want to be guests?

I can just envision a TON of things likely to go wrong. I hope you reconsider. Not saying this to be mean, just really, really don't think it's a good idea. There are some amazing, gourmet buffets, people on here have posted them. I'd feel a lot safer eating that food, than food prepared by our neighbor or church member, and I'd also think it a lot more formal and elegant. People who are servers, dressed as servers, etc. I personally, would not do it.

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happydefiant1 Posts : 223 Registered: 7/9/09
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 13, 2009 9:29 AM Go to message in response to: cyndi33

The church volunteers have hosted many catered events and know what is entailed with this type of setting. So, I don't really have concern in that area. We're not worried about the health concerns with regard to the buffet. We just don't prefer that style of food serving. It reminds me of lining animals up to a food troph or taking your tray through the local cafeteria or a pot luck family reunion. For other events this would probably be ok, but its just not the kind of atmosphere we're trying to create for our wedding. I know wedding buffets can be done very nicely, but at all the weddings I've been to that have had buffet style, I was not too excited about it.

However, as I said earlier, this is not a set in stone decision. We are just weighing our options and I greatly appreciate you input. Catering is becoming one of my biggest concerns right now. I am at a total loss with what to do. In our area, we are limited in our selection (there are maybe 3 places who deliver with a reasonable fee) and our family friend is already booked the day of our event. If we go outside of our town for a caterer, we're looking at a 45+ minute commute...just trying to keep it local.

Thanks so much ladies!!! As long as I know that hors d'oeuvres are an option in placement of a plated meal, I'll have more of an idea of what to discuss when I do sit with a caterer.

Kathaeleen


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happydefiant1 Posts : 223 Registered: 7/9/09
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 17, 2009 3:40 PM Go to message in response to: cyndi33

well, I met with a caterer and we are DEFINITELY going that route! Once we started talking about the food we wanted and beverages and serving pieces and linens and servers, oh my! It was too much. More things than I even considered would be involved. You ladies are so insightful. I shoulda known it was crazy to think we could take that on. Our church volunteers will be very happy to not have to do this :)

Oh, and the hors d'oeuvres and the plated meal DO cost the same.... at least at this place. Now FH and I have to decide, meal or no meal.... that is the question... hmmm....

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TanisJ Posts : 2,669 Registered: 4/25/07
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 17, 2009 6:33 PM Go to message in response to: happydefiant1

Very happy to hear that. Doing your own food or having volunteers do it is a sure fire way to add a lot of stress to your day. It will probably be easier to decide what route to go once you have your tasting. Bon appetite!

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ChelsRae85 Posts : 371 Registered: 5/16/09
Re: Meal or hors d'oeuvres?
Posted: Nov 17, 2009 7:58 PM Go to message in response to: TanisJ

I am glad to hear you've reached a conclusion to your catering dilemma. However I did want to comment on the DIY catering idea because I'm surprised this idea does not come up as much on these boards.

I have been to four weddings in the past year. Of them, two were DIY catered, and one of the DIY was by far the best food I've ever eaten at a wedding. The bride had a large family and all her aunts had prepared delightful finger foods and Barbeque-style foods like pasta salad. It was WONDERFUL, and having been with the bride for the 48 hours leading up to the wedding, I can tell you that it wasn't any more stressful than any of the other weddings I've helped out with. It just takes organization and planning. To be honest, it must be cultural because most of the weddings I've attended in my life have been DIY catered. It wasn't until I started researching my own wedding that I realized other people have caterers. Who knew?! haha!

Obviously it's not for everyone, but those who have large families or social groups who are willing to help out should definitely consider this option. I'm pretty sure Misty (Catstandish) on here catered her own wedding and it went off without a hitch too.

On a related note, I picked up a book from the library about a month ago called "Cater your own wedding". It was insanely helpful in helping me budget for the number of linens, dishes, napkins, trays, and even heads of lettuce I need to buy for my guest lists. If any other brides are considering DIY food, please read that book. I can't tell you how great it is. You can find it on Amazon.

That is all, carry on folks. :)
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