The fashionable trend these days is treating your guests to a taste of luxury.
Appetizer buffets and hors d’oeuvres are especially fun for cocktail hour between your main event/ceremony and dinner with little bites available for your guests to enjoy at their leisure while mingling.
Imagine servers walking around with scrumptious little morsels atop silver platters for your guests to ooh-and-aaah over all night long. Little Bites All Around!
Hors d'Oeuvres for Dinner? Yes!!
Budget tip: choose your appetizer menu wisely based on your budget and vision. Is your goal to “wow” your guests with tasty morsels, or give them a little filler to cut dinner portion size? Both are valid options, so choose wisely. If you choose dinner to follow apps, we recommend keeping hors d’oeuvres lighter, about 5 bites per person. Otherwise, plan for about 12-15 bites per person if you are not planning other meal options.
For a fun and casual dinner, try family-style platters.
Your main courses (and possibly the salad course) are served on large platters to each table.
Appropriate serving utensils are needed, where the guests serve and pass the food themselves.
Let's Share: Family Style Platters
Make sure your table decorations don’t dominate too much of the table space, as you will need a lot of room for several platters of food.
A buffet is a great way to stay in your budget,
and get all the amazing food you selected displayed together.
Several protein options on the buffet (in smaller portion sizes) are the newest trend,
and definitely a crowd pleaser. Steak, chicken and salmon all offered,
but much smaller, each at 1/3 the traditional portion.
Get in Line: The Buffet
Don’t forget your best friend who will take at least four portions of steak, leaving none for your other guests. So, ask your MC to begin the buffet with “Take one piece and come back as many times as you want. Let’s get everyone through the line first.” Or, you can also plan for buffet servers to keep portions consistent. To add to the elegance while keeping costs down from a fully plated dinner, opt for a plated/served salad & bread course before the main dinner buffet.
Keep in mind, the traditional buffet has a drawback: everybody is hungry waiting in line. The Silk Road is in-tune with these needs, and knows exactly how to speed things up before you get in a bind.
A plated salad course allows your guests to get a bite to eat before heading to the buffet. Orchestration is key for this style, so put someone in charge: The tables served the salad course first will also be first through the buffet line, and so forth. This allows for a steady flow of service, and not leaving your favorite Aunt May waiting too long for her turn at the buffet.
Plan buffet lines: use both sides of the buffet table, or create a T-shaped buffet. Both lines start the the bottom of the T, and are funneled away to each side to move quickly and prevent congestion.
Want a prime rib carving station, but know it will take forever to get everyone served? Simply add an additional carving station, and your guests will be delighted how quickly everyone goes through the line!
Plated or served dinners are definitely the most elegant, but the most costly and labor intensive with more servers and chefs on the clock.
Does everybody eat the same thing?
That’s a huge question. Here are the ups and downs.
Traditional Elegance : Plated Dinner
A plated dinner where everybody eats the same thing will always come out of the kitchen smoother and faster than a mixed menu. The cooks can create an assembly line for efficiency, and each table is served together.
Offering your guests a choice from a limited, say four-item menu, always aims to please. But, if there are multiple entreés, there may be lag time in getting individual tables all fed at the same time. Do you care if your guests are only served one entrée choice at time? For example, everybody who ordered steak gets fed first, then chicken, then salmon and so forth. This usually is not a problem with smaller events but it can be a huge issue for a large guest list. If you don't mind the staggering, your guests will appreciate the variety.
AND... With the plated dinner option, choose your menu before invitations go out so your guests can select and reply upon their RSVP.
Make it or break it!
How do you make sure every guest gets the right dish? Place setting indicators for each guest. Be imaginative: distinctive table decorations, name tags, stickers, etc. assigned to each person. But be careful to not make it so fun that your guests end up playing with or trading (or eating) them away, breaking your entire service pattern.
Remember hotel brunch, where the chef at the omelet bar allows you to choose the perfect mixture of ingredients for your favorite omelet.
Then they make it for you, right there, on the spot?
Now imagine that for dinner!
How about an Italian pasta bar, an Asian noodle bar, or creamy risotto bar? For a crowd pleaser, you’ve got it nailed!
Everybody Wins : Specialty Service Bar
Allergies, intolerances and food preferences are easily accommodated by the chef at a Specialty Service Bar, instantly making everyone happy!
To keep the love flowing (and stay-the-hunger while waiting in line) offer passed hors d’oeuvres or an appetizer buffet (or both) in addition to the service bar, creating a dynamic and social atmosphere. Provide both sitting and standing tables (if it’s feasible) offering a comfortable place for everyone.
BONUS: Service Bars are becoming increasingly popular for rehearsal dinners, almost forcing both sides of the family to intermingle!
Keep options available for those with dietary sensitivities too,
but don’t let them overwhelm your decisions on menu.
In your invitation, simply ask your guests to contact you well in advance for dietary restrictions, helping you (and your guests) be prepared for the feast.