Most wedding caterers will offer a taste testing session to help you in deciding which entrees are best to serve at your wedding. If it's a sit down dinner, most of the time you need to come up with three main dishes, you want to consider a delicious meal, with an elegant food presentation on how the food is displayed on the plate and you want to pick foods that will work within your budget. If you need to cut down on the budget, you can often opt for a buffet style dinner, or go with the less expensive entrees. You might consider going with very inexpensive hors d'oeuvres or no hors d'oeuvres or limit the hard liquor options.
When you attend the food tasting session with the caterer, the bride and groom should make the decision together, many caterers won't even charge the bride and groom for the food tasting session. You should make a fun time of it and invite a couple of extra guests along to the food tasting, could be the bride's parents, the groom's parents, the maid-of-honor, the best man and a buddy, sisters, brothers, or close friends. There may be a minimal charge for invited guests at the tasting, it could be something like $5, but for the delicacies your guests get to try, the fee is well worth the price.
Pace yourself at a food tasting, you want a good tasting of all the foods and you don't want to eat too fast, or else you will find yourself stuffed and not get a good taste on all the food options. If there is a bar with the caterer, you might include a bottle of wine to clean your palette between tastings or, if wine is allowed, bring your own wine. If wine is not available you should keep a glass or bottled water at the table and wet your lips after each sampling. Be sure to get feedback from all your guests, get constructive criticism on what meals are best.
At the end of the food sampling you want to identify three separate entrees, in three different food categories. One of the categories should always be vegetarian, as in a wedding guest list there is almost always a few vegetarians in the crowd. The foods choices might be beef, chicken, and pasta, or pork, seafood, and vegetarian, etc. When the food tasting is over, if at all possible to go back in the kitchen and pay compliments to the chef. Sometimes, if you leave a good impression, the chef may do some favors for you the day of your wedding, add some desserts for free or leave you with a little treat to take home.
If there is a favorite food that you like, that was not part of the food tasting, you may ask the caterer about the possibilities, could be something like prime rib, filet mignon, or veal marsala or a favorite meal you enjoy, very often a chef can accommodate your wishes. On the foods you are choosing, try to have the caterer show how the food will it be presented, for weddings food presentations are as important as the food being served.
As you are with the caterer, take note of the attentiveness of the wait staff. Pay attention on the front end (servers) as well as kitchen staff (chef) on how well they communicate with one another. Do things run smoothly, or in an unorganized manner. This tip is important if you plan to hire the caterer's wait staff. Get contacts and referrals from prior weddings of some previous brides and grooms and see if they were happy with the caterer, food presentation, and the food. Remember, when picking the wedding caterer, it's nice to get feedback, but the ultimate decision maker is the bride and groom.
Don't ever keep wedding guests waiting for food at wedding receptions, try to incorporate a cocktail - hors d'oeuvres happy hour before the formal wedding reception. Always provide seating for older weary guests. If you don't provide seating some of your older guests just may not have a good time and decide to leave early.
Keep the hors d'oeuvres varied and flowing! You may consider to have them butlered (passed) and in addition displayed on a buffet or reception table. The rule of thumb is to offer a set of hors d'oeuvres with every 4-5 people and expect each person to eat 6-8 hors d'oeuvres per hour. One hour of serving appetizers is good for most weddings that have a formal wedding dinner. Serve some cooler hors d'oeuvres (called canapes) in the summertime and a higher percentage of hot hors d'oeuvres in the wintertime. If the wedding is a formal affair, cut down on the amount of drippy hors d'oeuvres and sauces or risk some of the guests getting stains on their expensive dresses and tuxedos.
If you are having a an outdoor or an estate wedding. You can buy bulk hors d'oeuvres at discount stores such as Costco, BJs, Sams, and from gourmet food delivery businesses such as Horizon Foods. You also might find hors d'oeuvres that you can purchase from Catering Companies, Reception Facilities, Upscale Hotels that offer weddings, Upscale Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants, and some Wedding Bakeries and Delicatessens too.
Strike a balance of different types of hors d'oeuvres. Most hors d'oeuvres served at weddings should be unique and talked about, with foods you normally don't see at your home. You want to see a good variety of meats, cheeses, doughy foods, seafood, veggies, and fruits. You want to provide enough food to control guest's hunger pains before the formal wedding reception but not too many hors d'oeuvres, that stuffs all the guests for dinner. Don't leave food on bread or crackers out for more than a couple of hours or the foods may spoil. If friends or family is preparing the catered food, make sure there are enough preparations tools to go around. Purchase extra tools such as paring knives, melon ballers, meatball scoopers, cheese slicer, or measuring spoons. You can leave extra tools as wedding favors.
If there are hors d'oeuvres after the wedding, consider dropping the leftovers at a senior citizens complex, a convalescent home, or a soup kitchen and leave the disadvantaged with a rare treat. If you find any hors d'oeuvres takes a lot of time and effort to prepare, by family or friends, consider using easier recipes. Try to minimize the effort, by freezing hors d'oeuvre's that you can prepare beforehand, and just need to be popped in the oven at the wedding reception. Some hors d'oeuvres should be made into show pieces such as standing cocktails with a dish on a trumpet cups or delicacies of food on skewering sticks. Make sure all the wait staff are dressed appropriately for the wedding.
In recent years, cocktail/hors d'oeuvres wedding receptions are becoming more and more popular, especially in cases where the bride and groom are dealing with a very tight budget. Many venues frown on these type of wedding receptions because their margins are not as strong, much more money is made from a formal wedding reception. If you have a cocktail/hors d'oeuvre wedding reception, it is recommended you include a nice salad bar. Remember to include a wide assortment of salads and condiments, such as potato salad, macaroni salad, basic salad, uncommon soups, chips and dips such as avacado, salsa, vegetable, and spinach, and it's good to include tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, kiwi, strawberry, bananas, pineapple, watermelon, coconut, honey dew, and cantelope. Think about decorative fruit displays into some of the trays. Think of serving rarer cheeses and various sliced meats like pepperoni, prosciutti and salami.
Remember at any cocktail/hors d'oeuvres receptions think about including an open bar and think about including some soft music to entertain your guests. You might offer live music, such as a string quartet, flutist, pianist, harpist, or a guitarist. You may think about including a slide show of the couple growing up and some of their engagement photos at the cocktail part of the reception.
Your best cocktail/hors d'oeuvres wedding events are when the hors d'oeuvres become a talking point. Either the hors d'oeuvres offer an eye popping display, the guest has no idea what they had just eaten, or it will be a case of "Why didn't I think of that"?
100 hors d'oeuvre ideas are listed below to research in recipe books or off the internet!
- Asian Spring Rolls
- Asparagas and Prosciutti Bundles
- Avocado Appetizers and Ginkgo Nut Skewers
- Bacon Onion Appetizers
- Bacon Water Chestnut Wraps
- Baked Venison
- Barbecued Ribs
- Barbecued Swedish Meatballs
- Beef and Onion Turnovers
- Beef Wellington Appetizers
- Bloomin' Onion Petal with Chipotle Sauce
- Buffalo Wings
- California Baja Rolls
- Cheeseburger Sliders
- Cheese Puffs with Bacon
- Chicken and Bacon Shish Kebobs
- Chicken Quesidillas
- Chicken Satay Brochette with Peanut Sauce
- Chilean Sea Bass Wellington
- Chinese Won Tons with Plum Sauce
- Coconut Shrimp with Mango Chutney
- Cocktail Meatballs cooked in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce
- Crab Josephines
- Crudite served in Shot Glasses
- Cuban Christo with Mustard and Chives
- Cucumber Appetizers with Herbed Cream Cheese
- Curried Chicken Tea Sandwiches
- Escargot in Mushroom Caps
- Fried Beer Raviolis
- Fruit Kabobs mixed with Seafood
- Greek Triangle Puffs
- Grilled Eggplant and Gorgonzola/Crostini
- Grilled Seafood Flautas Recipe
- Ham Stuffed Biscuits with Mustard
- Japanese Izakayo
- Jumbo Lump Carp Imperial in Bouchee
- Jumbo Prawns
- Lamb Skewers with Blackberry and Shalot Horseradish
- Lobster and Mango Cocktail
- Lobster Profiteroles
- Macaroni Lollipops
- Marinated Artichoke Hearts Venezia
- Meat Filled Calzones
- Mediterranean Meze
- Mini Beef Fajitas
- Mini Caviar Parfait
- Mini Cheddar and Green Onion Quiche
- Mini Lobster Rolls
- Mini Lox and Bagels
- Mini Monte Christo
- Mini Pancakes with Blueberries and Strawberries
- Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Mini Reuben Sandwiches
- Miscarpone and Fig Bouchet
- Mozzarella Sticks
- Mushroom and Onion Turnovers
- Mushroom Caps with Stuffed Crab
- Oyster Rockefeller
- Pepperoni and Prosciutti and Mozarella on Crackers
- Pesto Coins with Cheese and Nuts
- Petite Cocktail Quiche
- Pigs in a Blanket with Potent Mustard Sauce
- Pinwheel Appetizers with Cream Cheese
- Pizza Bites
- Pot Stickers with a Sesame Sauce
- Quiche Lorraine
- Reuben Spring Rolls
- Roasted Pear and Bleu Cheese Filo
- Roasted Tomato and Olive Tarts
- Sausage and Apple Skewers
- Sausage Bundles with Meat Onion and Prattles
- Sea Scallops Wrapped In Bacon
- Sesame Chick with Spicy Apricot Sauce
- Shiitake and Portobello Mushrooms
- Shrimp Cocktail
- Shrimp Daviche
- Shrimp, Scallop and Lobster Kabob
- Shrimp Toast
- Skewered Chicken with Timbocca and Sage
- Skewered Pork Appetizers
- Skewered Tortellini with Parmesian Sauce
- Sliced and Toasted Bagulette
- Southwestern Egg Rolls
- Smoked Cheese and Pepperoni Cornucopia
- Smoked Salmon with Cognac Mayo/Crostini
- Spanish, French, or American Tapas
- Spicy Buffalo Wings
- Spicy Marinated Flank Steak
- Spring Tarts
- Stuffed Deviled Eggs with Coconut Chutney or Caviar
- Stuffed Jalapeno Bites
- Stuffed Mushrooms with Crabmeat and Spicy Cream Cheese
- Summer Squash Tamales
- Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake
- Tamale Balls
- Teriyaki Ribbon Chicken or Beef on a Skewer
- Twiced Baked Potato Skins
- Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs
Make sure you review the catered list of foods and hors d'oeuvres before signing the contract, take note when final payments are due so the caterer can order the food. Also review if there are other supplies needed for the wedding, caterers sometimes have extra equipment, tables, and chairs. Make sure your wedding food is delicious, eye catching, and affordable! See you on the other side!