Do we have to serve a full meal at our reception?

|||Do we have to serve a full meal at our reception?

Do we have to serve a full meal at our reception?Q. We are working with a limited budget but still want to have a nice reception with dancing. Do we have to serve a full meal at our reception?

Dessert Buffet for a Vow Renewal ReceptionA. Absolutely not! Simply schedule your reception to begin at a time when a full meal would not be expected to be served, such as 2 pm or 8 pm. This will open your options up to serving lite hors d’oeuvres and cake for more of a cocktail party feeling late in the evening or finger sandwiches and sweets for an afternoon reception. You might want to make note that you’re having a cocktail or dessert reception on the invitations, so guests know what to expect and can plan to eat ahead of time. Keep in mind that if you opt for an evening cocktail reception, that you do need a nice balance of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and hors d’oeuvres in order to keep guests dancing the night away! Alcohol is completely optional for an afternoon reception regardless if you are planning on dancing or not.

2017-03-05T14:25:38-05:00Ask an Expert, Reception|


  1. Carolyn Schultz August 29, 2016 at 9:30 am - Reply

    I am doing our 50th anniversary vowel renewal at our church, and want to do a lite dinner but I want it to be simple it will be at my church and I would like it not go over $200. There will be about 100 people. Any Ideas, the price does not include the cake or dessert.

    • Karie August 29, 2016 at 10:16 am - Reply

      Congratulations on your upcoming vow renewal! What an incredible milestone anniversary to be celebrating. Our top idea for an inexpensive dinner is pasta and salad. It’s a classic that most everyone enjoys.

      Main Course – Pasta is an excellent choice for the main course – opt for bulky types of pasta, such as rigatoni or mostaccioli over long noodles to make your budget go oven further. Visually, they seem more substantial, and people take more appropriate portions and less goes in the trash. Keep sauces simple. A classic marinara sauce enhanced with some canned diced tomatoes, roasted garlic cloves, and topped with mozzarella works wonderfully. Alfredo sauce and carbonara sauces are also popular options. Alfredo sauce can be enhanced with chicken and broccoli or diced ham and peas. Carbona pairs nicely with crumbled bacon and/or chicken. Combine your sauce with the pasta of choice in chaffing dishes before serving. You need 2 ounces of pasta per adult. Opt for three different styles to enhance the overall look of your selections.

      3 sauces, 3 types of pasta – Cost for 100 guest $100-140.

      Sides – Compliment your pasta with a simple romaine lettuce or baby greens salad pre-tossed with a classic Italian vinaigrette and dressed with some tomatoes and red onions. Finish off with yeast rolls or loaves of French bread sliced and pre-buttered.

      Cost for 100 guests $40-70.

      Beverages – Keep drinks simple with coffee, iced tea, and a very basic lemonade or fruit punch. Cost for 100 guests $20-30.

      TOTAL COST – $160 – 240 for 100 guests
      Other great options include salads topped with meat, turkey (buy during the holidays), ham, or pulled pork. If you’re opting to have meat for the main course, bulky and inexpensive vegetables are your best bet, think glazed carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, roasted potatoes, or even green beans.

      Best of luck planning your vow renewal! Please let us know if you have any other questions, we’re happy to help.

      Editor and Founder

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