Before all the hoopla, before the dancing and the celebration singing  – there are tons of decisions to make when you’re planning a wedding (but don’t those folks up there look like they’re having fun?). 

Having been close party to two weddings this year – I’m going to consider myself something of an authority on wedding food.  If you’d like the benefit of my expertise, read on…

Wedding food can be hideously expensive.  A per plate price of $85.00 for chicken isn’t unusual for the low end side of wedding feeds.  Multiply that by a mere 50 hungry guests then you’re already at $4,250.00 (no tax included) – and you haven’t even opened up the bar!

Some thoughtful venues include the cost of the room in the per plate price – and I’ve seen a few that include service fees as well – so that’s a good deal. At least you know where you stand on the per person cost (kinda sorta – there’s always a hidden something).

So before you go writing up that 350 guest invitation list (with an industry estimate of at least 35% declining your gracious invitation), you might want to check on the per plate cost of the feed.  That should pull your guest list down to a pretty reasonable number pretty darned quickly.

Buffet, seated, hors d’oeuvres, cake-nuts-punch? 

It all depends on your budget.  If you’ve been dreaming of an elegant seated dinner with wait staff courteously serving and removing one course at a time, then go ahead and sell your car, cash in any savings bonds grandma may have given you, and plan on eating peanut butter sandwiches exclusively for at least one year prior to the date – you and your fiancee, plus probably your parents.  (Don’t believe me?  Get a quote.  You’ll learn…) 

Interesting menus you might enjoy browsing before heading off to talk with the caterer can be found by clicking the picture below:

Formal reception place setting

And a seated, formal meal requires elegant wedding favors …

After you choke down the above-mentioned quote for a formal, seated dinner, consider buffet-style if you’re still bound and determined to lay down an awesomely impressive feed. 


This can be done quite tastefully as seen in my friend Skip’s recent wedding.  Here’s how that one went – guests arrive, move to the ceremonial venue, watch the wedding, return to the lobby of the dining area, enjoy wine and beer and small hors douvres and pick up their table assignments via perfect place card holders discretely displayed on a table in the lobby.  Move into the dining room – watch the introduction of the wedding party, the move back into the buffet area one table at a time to select from the displayed feast.  Oh – make sure there are two lines.  Some people seem to take eons picking out their piece of chicken, or they insist on buttering their rolls right there in the line, rather than moving on and doing it at the table.  You just never know.


And the favors?  She had two – the multi-tasking golf ball place card holder and tea light (so perfect for the golf course venue), and the favor jar, customized to her precise colors – click the pic to learn where to purchase.

Heavy hors douvres added to a recipe of champagne, wine and beer (cash bar for the liquor people) can make for a fun, chatty reception.  Bride and groom move amongst the tasting crowd chatting and accepting congratulations on their big commitment.  Price-wise this can run about as much as a buffet – but is less stuffy and allows people to mingle with whomever they please.


Cake-nuts-punch doesn’t have to be all that boring and works quite well for an afternoon wedding (but remember, the closer to 6 pm, the more food expected).  If your wedding crowd is mostly local and you’re mindful of your budget – this can actually work out quite well.  Add in a few homey sweet/savory touches, a few toasts from the sparkling champagne punch, lots of smiles and laughter and you’re good.

Some good estimates for a cake-nuts-punch reception can be found by clicking the pic below:

Punch it up a bit (yes, pun intended) with these practical and affordable wedding favors and your guests will walk away from your reception with delightful memories of your wedding day!


So whatever your budget, there are lots of options out there.  I hope my little dollop of expertise was helpful!

Celebrating Wedding Food today! (and surviving the cost of same)

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!