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Simplified Soirees: Creating an elegant reception without a traditional dinner

By Lisa Beth Miller

Serving a full dinner meal at a wedding reception is a traditional choice, but honestly, it isn’t for every couple! Some want to simplify the reception, or even host it at a time of day when a huge formal meal wouldn’t seem appropriate. For these couples, there are so many fabulous options! Here are some ideas.

For the sophisticated couple who wants to mingle all night, consider a cocktail reception. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails can create a perfect party. Have your caterer include tray passed hors d’oeuvres in addition to a few mini-stations (try sushi or an olive bar). Create a bar area that features some signature cocktails in addition to the standard fare. This format allows guests to try lots of different morsels, plus makes socializing all night a breeze.

For the romantic couple planning a morning sunrise wedding, consider a wedding breakfast or brunch! Invite a jazz band to set the scene and serve an amazing variety of morning meal delicacies. An omelette station, waffle station, huge fruit platter, and a bagel (or doughnut) wall would all work perfectly. And don’t forget the mimosas and Bloody Marys! Creating a “make your own” style bar with fabulous garnishes and ingredients will elevate these classic brunch beverages and delight guests.

For the classy couple who loves all things British, consider an afternoon tea reception. Offer guests a variety of teas (or coffee if they prefer). Tiered platters of finger sandwiches, biscuits, scones, and petits fours will create an elegant, but unique nosh. Of course, be sure to serve wedding cake to complete the celebration. A pianist or harpist could provide just the right melodies to set the tone.

For the whimsical, but sweet couple, consider a dessert reception! Set up stations that feature lots of decadent options such as crepes, sundaes, and s’mores. Set up a table filled with cupcakes, tarts, pies, and beignets. The main attraction could, of course, be the beautiful wedding cake. A coffee bar featuring yummy toppings and mix-ins could add the perfect finishing touch. This idea works best after an evening wedding that takes place after guests have had their evening meal.

Couples should not be afraid to be creative and design the event and celebratory meal that truly reflects their personalities! As long as guest know what to expect, your unique event will be enjoyed by all!


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