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Wedding Reception Food Terms

Here’s a handy translation of frequently used wedding reception food service terms you might hear while planning your client’s wedding reception.


ANTIPASTO: (“before the meal”) traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. Unlike hors d’oeuvres, antipasto is served at the table and traditionally consists of cured meats, marinated vegetables and cheeses.

BUFFET: Casual way to serve a large group of guests; a variety of dishes displayed on tables that guests can pick and choose from. Typically doesn’t work for venues with numerous small rooms.

FAMILY STYLE: Platters of food are placed at each table. Wedding guests help themselves and pass the food around to one another.

FRENCH SERVICE: This individualized and highly skilled type of food service is not very common in the U.S. Rather than being plated in the kitchen, white-gloved waiters prepare food table side from a single large dish or platter held by another waiter. Each guest is served individually.

GLATT KOSHER: Menu that follows strict Jewish dietary laws. Three of the requirements are:
(1)Shellfish, pork and rabbit are forbidden;
(2)Dairy and meat cannot be eaten together;
(3)Grape products–e.g. wine–must be produced by someone who follows the Jewish faith.

HORS D’ OEUVRES: (“outside the work” in French). Appetizer typically served before a meal; food that precedes the main course. May be served at the table as part of the sit-down meal or may be served before sitting at the table. (And quite possibly this is one of the THE most difficult words to spell correctly!!)

INTERMEZZO: (“in between”) sorbet course designed to cleanse the palate before the main course of a formal, multi-course dinner (not generally served for less than a four-course meal).

OFF-SITE LOCATION: Reception site that has few or none of the services or supplies needed. You will need to contract for everything from food to silverware.

ON-SITE LOCATION: Reception site that offers nearly everything needed for a wedding or special event–catering, linens, tables, etc.

PLATED SERVICE or AMERICAN SERVICE: Each plate is prepared in the kitchen and is covered. Plates full of food are brought from the kitchen and placed in front of guests. The cover is removed at the moment the meal is served.

RUSSIAN SERVICE: This is similar to French service except the extremely coordinated waiters hold trays with platters of food–prepared in the kitchen–in one hand and serve guests with the other.

TRAY/BUTLERED SERVICE: Waiters walk among wedding guests with trays of hors d’ oeuvres or drinks.


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