The dinner service at your wedding is one aspect of your day that your guests will talk about for years to come!
If you’re anything like us, you’ll agree that food is a love language. When it comes to weddings, every bite and sip enriches the overall experience of the day. We raise glasses of bubbly to toast the newlyweds and the wedding cake is cut in accordance with the couple’s culture & tradition. Around the world couples getting married are having tea ceremonies, the breaking of bread, and sake-sharing ceremonies. Food is a big part of culture and a universal language all its own.
It should come as no surprise then, that the majority of your wedding reception will center around food! From cocktail hour to dinner service, dessert service, and late-night bites. Having an amazing dinner service experience at your wedding is so much more than hiring the right caterer to bring it all together. We’re going over the details that often get overlooked when it comes to dinner service, in the blog below!
Most guests fear reading the seating chart at a wedding. Usually, because they want to know who they’ll be sitting with. But especially when they haven’t met anyone in attendance at the wedding outside of the couple getting married. Erase that stress for your guests by introducing them to each other ahead of time through your Guestie event. After all, you can’t expect your guests to show up as their best fun-loving cracking jokes at the table selves if they are meeting one another for the first time the night of your wedding! It’s kind of hard to get that “we’re all old friends” vibe sitting with people you’ve only just met. You have to lay the groundwork for their experience at your wedding dinner ahead of time!
There are so many different segues leading into your dinner service. Your wedding dinner experience starts when your guests transition from cocktail hour, the very moment they are ready to find their table and have a seat. If you want the energy from your cocktail hour to spill over into your wedding dinner, it requires a fun & smooth transition. There are a few easy ways to do this!
The first is to have your entertainment make the announcement. If you’ve planned a fun flash mob or choreographed dance, your DJ or band can tease the performance by telling guests to hurry inside before they miss out. Another fun way to get guests excited for dinner is by finding a unique way to name or group your table numbers. We love the idea of grouping your table numbers by the tags on your Guestie event. But, you can always name them by places you’ve visited together, or by your favorite sports teams!
Oh to navigate all that is seating at a wedding! From tables, linens, and chairs, to the shape, size, color, and the who sits with who conundrum! Now that your guests have found their table, what are they walking up to? Is it round tables filled with 8 guests? Or long family-style seating that can seat up to 20 guests? Or, maybe you went with a mix of round and rectangle seating because it was aesthetically pleasing! When tables and chairs are decided upon for a wedding dinner, it’s usually purely because of their aesthetic. It often has little to do with the comfort or experience they provide. Major no no!
Those fab modern acrylic chairs are wonderful. But nobody wants their legs sticking to a chair all night because they are wearing an outfit that cuts off at the knees. Do you get where we’re going with this? The comfort and accessibility that your seating provides to your guests are just as important as the fab dinner they’ll be digging into! Skip the chairs that are so heavy they can’t easily slide, thus making your guests avoid a dash to the washroom until after dinner is over because they don’t want to distract anyone with a loud clatter! Find seating that your guests will be comfortable in for *at least* an hour, we promise you can find something that will align with your wedding day vision!
The Flow Of Dinner Service
This gets overlooked all too often when planning a wedding menu! But the flow of dinner service 100% affects the overall experience that you & your guests will have. By the way, this is something to discuss during your tasting or when you are in the planning process of selecting your menu! Look, we’ve all been to those weddings where it feels like you will never eat. How did that affect your mood? You probably wanted to run out and grab a slice while nobody was looking.
It’s not exactly setting a fun tone for the rest of the night when your guests arrive at the reception famished & waiting. Nobody wants to wait to be served, especially at an event like a wedding where all of your guests are supposed to be in celebration mode. Skip the cranky unfed guest routine by carefully looking at the flow of your dinner service. Here’s a quick break down of each style!
If you are having a sit-down dinner, either family style or plated, will glasses of water be filled by the time your guests make their way to the table? Your guests will want something to cleanse their palette between cocktail hour & dinner service. The first thing they’ll be reaching for is water! What about your bread basket, butter, and salt and pepper? Will those be set out ahead of time? Or will your guests be left asking for these items as dinner arrives and they are ready to dig in?
Having a fun family-style dinner where everyone at the table will pass the mains and sides around? Ask your caterer about the actual plates the dinner will be served on! Sound crazy? How heavy are the plates? Will your guests be able to pass them around the table, helping each other grab their fill of the deelish items on the menu? Or are they clunky and hard to lift?
Nobody wants to go in for a piece of chicken only to lift an unexpectedly heavy plate and end up wearing the main course down the front of their outfit for the entire night! What about refills on family style? Is your family-style dinner all you can eat, or is it enough for each guest to fill their plate before moving on to the next course? How will that be communicated to your guests? Will the waitstaff require they ask for another serving for the table or will the staff continue to return without being prompted?
Thinking a buffet dinner is more your style? Where are the plates and silverware? Are they conveniently located at each of your guest’s seats? Or will guests have to grab them at the beginning of the buffet line causing the line to “clog” up. What about the stations of the buffet? What’s the overall layout? Will your guests easily be able to weave in and out of the stations skipping over any courses that do not fit their dietary preferences? Can guests easily find their way from one station to the next so they don’t miss out on the fabulous modern-fusion menu you planned?
How about wait staff? Will they be behind each of the stations plating for your guests as they approach the buffet with their plates? Or will that only happen at the carving station, leaving your guests to fill their plates and pick and choose as they go? This is another important aspect to discuss either during your tasting or when putting together your wedding menu!
A Side Note on Wine Pairings!
If you selected wine pairings for your dinner service it’s important to find out exactly how guests will be served. Will bottles of wine be set at the table for your guest? Or will your guests be served tableside per request with the wait staff?
How Is Dessert Served
The toasts and the speeches have been made and dinner is officially over. It’s another transitional moment of your wedding day and the finality of dinner service. Given that you’ll have guests pretty much going any which way after dinner service, what is the best way to make sure they all get to enjoy your fab dessert menu? Dessert is the final course of your wedding dinner and the last transition before you & your guests hit the dance floor! Your older guests might be enjoying coffee and cake before they head home for the evening. While your remaining guests are getting their hands on something sweet before hitting the dance floor. And those select few guests already on the dance floor are trying to “make room” to enjoy dessert later.
Table service for the dessert course at a wedding is not really a “thing” anymore. Unless of course, you’re having a black tie wedding, in which case slices of cake will be brought to each guest by wait staff. Make your own or serve yourself dessert is the way to go! Especially if you’ve planned a multi-selection dessert course! It’s a great option to allow those exiting early to grab dessert when they’re ready. While the rest of your guests have plenty of time to enjoy dessert at their leisure. If you need some fun ideas for wedding dessert that doesn’t involve cake, you’ll find them all in this post!