Planning Your Happily Ever After Wedding: Part 3


Planning Your Happily Ever After Wedding: Part 3

Part Three: Arranging an Ideal Meal Service, Bar Service, and Seating Plan

When it comes to your reception meal, choosing a venue that also provides your meal and bar service can save you a lot of time and effort. When your venue provides the meal, the food quality may be better as well, because the food comes right out of the kitchen and doesn’t have to travel. For Wedding Receptions, there are usually two food service styles to choose from, Buffet and Plated Meals. There are pluses and minuses to each.

 A buffet-style meal is a service in which several salads and entrees are available on a line. The food is replenished throughout the dinner hour. The advantage of a buffet style meal is that there is plenty of food! Your guests can get second helpings if they are still hungry or want to try something different. You can provide several options for guests to choose from. You will not have to worry about counting up meal choices or making special requests for different eating styles. The downside to the buffet is the space it takes up in your reception room and the potential to have guests standing in line. If you do go with this option, be sure to have someone release tables, one at a time, to eliminate long waits in line.

A plated meal is a very elegant service in which guests are served directly at their tables. There are usually at least two courses, and each guest may choose in advance the meal that they would prefer. A plated service takes up no space in your reception room, which gives you space for those extra ten guests, a candy buffet, or memorial table. A Plated Meal is a little more work on your part because you will need to have RSVPs for each person’s meal type. You will need to create name cards with color codes or symbols to indicate meal choice. This will ensure that the service goes flawlessly.

Be sure to check with your venue on the number of guests recommended per table. That will give you an idea of what will be the most comfortable while dining. This will also help with planning your seating arrangements. You will need to put together a Seating Chart or Escort Cards to ensure each guest finds their appropriate seat. The tables can be noted by either name or number. One of my favorite tablescapes had tables named after National Parks the couple had visited together.

One thing you cannot go wrong with is offering a cocktail hour with appetizers or hor d’ouevres following your ceremony. This will also allow your guests to be occupied while you and you're beloved spend some time with your photographer. This brings me to the different types of bar service. There are two terms you will surely hear, while you’re on your planning journey.  “Cash Bar” and “Hosted Bar”…..what does that even mean? And what’s the difference?

A “Cash Bar” will be a fully stocked bar that where guests will purchase their drinks. Despite the name “Cash Bar” they almost always take credit cards as well. It is worth a quick confirmation with your venue that they will accept credit/debit at the bar. If you decide to go this route, be sure to get a drink pricing list. That way if any of your guests ask, you will have that info. A cute way to inform them ahead of time that they will be buying their drinks is to include a stylized drink menu with pricing and meal menu with the invitation.

A “Hosted Bar” is a bar service that is paid for the wedding couple. In other words, the couple is “hosting” the bar service for the guests. There are several options when it comes to hosting some or all of the bar service. You can decide to host the first hour for the guests and then go to cash afterward, or you can host the whole duration of the event. Another bar option that is popular for Wedding Receptions is hosting beer and wine only; liquor can be made available for purchase or not stocked on the bar at all. This type of bar is known as a California Bar. The California bar can be a good way to host on a budget, as it won’t be quite as expensive as the fully hosted bar.

For more information on booking Weddings or events, please reach out to Natascha von Thiele, Wedding Coordinator, Asilomar Conference Grounds or visit our Weddings page.

Author

Natascha von Thiele

As a Conference Services Manager for Asilomar Conference Grounds, Natascha helps manage group events and conferences to perfection. When she’s not working with her clients, you'll likely find her kayaking on the beautiful Monterey Bay or relaxing on the beach with a book. Natascha is an active volunteer in the community and advocate for educating and motivating youth, to protect, and sustain the environment.