Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dining Dilemma's

Okay, you have the venue, the perfect outfit/dress, amazing guests, stunning decor, a great photographer and even your favorite entertainer/band ready to go.  But, you can't decide on your menu or how to serve it to your guests.  And, with the slew of choices, I can't blame anyone for finding themselves in this position.  When I run up against any roadblock like this with my clients, I simply remind them to stick to the basics. They work.

So, when it comes to your party, here are the options, as I see them, to dining basically....

Cocktail Party 
~Though not always necessarily less expensive than a full meal, this chic food flow can be done more quickly and easily through passed hors d'oeuvres.  The caterer can control the portions and will know that they need to be heavier than normal since no meal will be served.  This option gives the host/s more time for other important happenings including a lot more mingling.  EXTRA NOTE: Never schedule this type of party too early in the evening and always correctly mark the invitation so guests are not expecting dinner and getting nibbles instead.  And, don't ask the caterer to pass HD's for 5 hours...that is just a little much.

Photo by Elizabeth Ann Designs
Formal, Plated Dinner
~Quiet is something you must love when you select this dining option.  If you prefer to talk amongst only those at your set table, this is the right choice for you.  That doesn't mean you don't want to get up and chat with others later, it just means you prefer order and formality over a less casual atmosphere while you are eating.  This is also a great way to go if you like fine foods, presentation and wine pairings.  The caterer can make sure all of those are exactly the way you want them, served to precision to each and every guest.  Sit-down meals will take more time than other dining choices, which is not always a bad thing.  
EXTRA NOTE:  Plated meals are not always more expensive because each plate portion is controlled.  The service staff needed to make it go off beautifully may be what costs you more in the end.

Buffet and/or Food Stations
~If you want options, a buffet has them!  This less casual way of serving a meal to your guests will give them the opportunity to build their own plate, full of things they choose.  That is a great thing.  Food stations offer the same idea.  Guests will enjoy visiting the ones that appeal to them and skipping the others.  It seems this option would make anyone happy.  The hold up is when you are limited on space and time.  Be sure your venue and caterer have managed (successfully) this flow before and ask for suggestions on the setup.   EXTRA NOTE: Work with your caterer to select a buffet/food station menu that still includes something for everyone.  

Casual, Family Style 
~Do you hate the formal-ness of all of the above?  Good - I have saved the last one for you!  This option is not for Type A's - at all.  Instead, guests and hosts that will enjoy this style want fun and no worries during their meal.  They are not uptight and will love passing the food around the table with their family and friends (aka doing most of the work themselves).  The great thing about family style dining is that you are still able to provide options to your guests, and they can build their plate to their liking.  EXTRA NOTE: Always ask your caterer how they will present the food and which dishes will be left on the table.  This is hugely important when you begin planning your place settings and other table decor, as you want to know what your space limits are, etc.

There you have it.  The basics.  Don't worry excessively about how a particular guest will react to your final selection.  And, remember, no one of these options is better than another - no matter what anyone says.  Stick to the basics, based on your personality and interests, and it will be a hit.

Boldly Yours,

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