7 Different Ways to Serve Wedding Reception Food


Help your clients create a memorable wedding reception. Here are seven different wedding reception food styles to get your client’s creative juices flowing for planning what will probably be the biggest party they will ever throw!


For the low-key couple, this wonderful morning feast follows a 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. wedding ceremony.

Jaclyn Simpson Photography

Wedding Reception Food Ideas:

  • Bagels and croissants with a selection of marmalades and jams
  • Fresh fruit
  • Pancakes or waffles
  • Specialty sausages, Canadian bacon and smoked salmon
  • A chef making custom omelets or crepes, where guests select their fillings
  • Mimosas and Bloody Marys are natural beverage selections.

The Good News: This is an inexpensive option and makes for an intimate gathering. Because this is an early event it still leaves plenty of time for the bride and groom to leave for their honeymoon.

Keep in Mind: Such an early celebration eliminates dancing and may even be too early for late-sleeping guests to attend.


Quality and simplicity describe this reception option which provides more substantial cuisine following a late morning or high noon ceremony. This lunchtime gathering usually takes place between 12 noon and 2 p.m.

Wedding Reception Food Ideas:

  • Variety of salads
  • Pasta dishes
  • Cold salmon and chicken
  • Light drinks and lemonade

The Good News: A luncheon is still less expensive than dinner and makes for a fabulous outdoor reception.

Keep in Mind: Not too many guests will want to dance at a lunchtime event.


This is a delightful and affordable reception held between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. (usually doesn’t start after 3:30 p.m.). An afternoon tea reception is perfect for die hard romantics who like to do things a little differently.

Wedding Reception Food Ideas:

  • Finger sandwiches with crusts removed (dainties)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Scones and cream
  • Wedding cake (of course!)
  • Cupcakes (instead of the wedding cake if you want!)
  • A wide variety of teas and champagne punch

The Good News: An afternoon tea event is a great opportunity for creativity. This style of event also works well for couples with a large guest list and a small budget.

Keep in Mind: Although this is a delightful event, this type of wedding reception doesn’t provide a full meal for wedding guests and because it is typically a shorter reception, dancing is unlikely.


For the late-night partying duo, this “sweet” late evening alternative may be the answer starting sometime between 9:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Wedding Reception Food Ideas:

  • Wedding Cake
  • An extensive assortment of rich desserts
  • Chocolate fountain with accompanying fruits
  • Candy buffet(a personal favorite!)
  • Champagne and specialty coffee
  • An espresso bar

The Good News: This option is sophisticated and inexpensive.

Keep in Mind: This party doesn’t provide a real meal for guests and because of the sweet menu, there are no provisions for diabetics.


For the casual bridal couple who prefer a fun and relaxing reception, having wedding guests serve themselves from a variety of food offerings is a great option for wedding reception food.

Wedding Reception Food Ideas:

  • A variety of dishes that allow guests to pick and choose to create a great meal, attractively set out on long tables.
  • Both meat and vegetarian entrees
  • Plenty of side dishes; a selection of vegetables and salads

The Good News: The very nature of a buffet offers something for everyone.

Keep in Mind: Contrary to popular belief, a buffet is not necessarily cheaper than a sit-down meal.  Also, because of the time guests could spend waiting in line for food, this is not the most elegant option.


Elegant traditionalists will welcome the opportunity to have waiters serve their guests food.

Wedding Reception Food Ideas:
One, two or three entree selections with an appetizer, salad or soup, side dishes and dessert.

The Good News:

  • The couple gets to determine each menu item.
  • Because everyone eats at the same time, this is a much more elegant option.
  • Since people tend to finish their meals more quickly, an event like this allows for more time on the dance floor and a great party.

Keep in Mind: This party isn’t cheap and wedding guests will have a limited selection of food.


For the adventurous couple, this eating fantasy made up of buffet tables scattered around the reception area, each with a different specialty of food, is a delight.

Wedding Reception Food ideas:
The couple gets to try all their favorites – seafood, pasta, roast beef…the possibilities are endless! To add to the adventure, why not suggest adding a chef serving wontons from a wok or an iceboat filled with shrimp or crab legs?

The Good News: The style of this reception provides a lot of fun and variety for wedding guests to sample foods from each station. This is a great opportunity for you to display your wedding planning creativity with the menu and decor. One thing’s for sure–wedding guests will rave about this party for years to come!

Keep in Mind: This is the most expensive wedding reception food option of all!


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  • Reply October 3, 2011

    Terri - A Celebration

    Thank You! We need to help our brides get out of the “gotta be dinner” rut, especially when budget is a concern.

    • Reply October 19, 2011


      You’re absolutely right, Terri. Personally, I love the idea of a morning wedding followed by brunch. So different! :)

  • [...] other options beside the typical reception dinner. There are several other options for serving reception food to wedding guests (brunch, for example.) Open their eyes to the different styles they might like to incorporate [...]

  • Reply September 17, 2012

    La Bella Planners

    Love these ideas! As our business continues to grow we are continually trying to find different ways for each wedding we plan to be tailored to each couple. Love the brunch idea.

  • Reply June 15, 2013


    A friend of mine thought long and hard about her food options – she also was so stuck on having a sit down dinner. But since her wedding was later in the evening, she ended up going the dessert-only route. It was all so pretty and set up so nicely. In the end, she was really happy with her decision.

    Great list of ideas here!

  • Reply July 11, 2013

    Mrs. L

    I want to do food stations for my wedding, but i also want salmon and i do not know how to incorporate it.

  • Reply July 20, 2013


    What do you think of a dessert bar reception held around 2:30-4:00pm?

  • Reply September 28, 2013


    Hi Deb, I’m from Nigeria and the people here are used to having to stand on long queues to get their food. Most of the time the meals are the same. I would like to change things up a bit and serve the food at the the tables instead. What do you think about that and what meals do you suggest I include in the menu other than rice? Would couscous be good for a wedding?

    • Reply October 6, 2013

      Debbie Quain

      Hi Tina, Good for you for wanting to change things up a bit. As for menu specifics, I’m not the expert by any means, I’m afraid. :) Why not share your menu ideas with your area/favorite caterers and restaurants? I’m sure they have their finger on the pulse when it comes to food selection.

  • […] Matter-of-factually, weddings and receptions are expensive events. Unless you have an unlimited fund for your wedding  Texas catering, you should know how to save money. Here are proven tips to help you cut costs without compromising the taste and the quality of food you serve your guests. […]

  • […] wedding caterers, it is a must they prepare special dishes on the wedding celebration. It is their goal to receive amazing feedback from their clients with the new tastes and flavors […]

  • Reply September 24, 2014

    Sarah Honnor

    Depending on the budget will be the appearance :) Anyway I prefer serving on a stick .. or in a glass .. doing it the fancy way ;)

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