Reception Ideas

Afternoon tea/hors d'oeuvres/dessert reception

My fiancé and I are planning an intimate wedding with our closest family and friends. It's small (60 guests) because we feel that it's an incredibly personal event that we only want our closest loved ones to attend. We're also on a small budget (we are NOT willing to go into debt for our special day and don't want to go over budget) and are playing around with reception ideas. We know that our family and friends love us regardless but I still want to feel that I'm doing "enough" for them, especially since most are coming from out of town (a few hours drive for most but still). I'm rejecting the wedding industry in so many ways but I'm unsure of this, even though the menu excites my fiancé and I. Our family and friends come from different backgrounds and countries and parts of the country so there is no "norm" to follow. However, we live in North Carolina.


My question is: How would you feel attending a wedding in a woodland setting that has a SLIGHT enchanted forest theme that served an afternoon tea/heavy hors d'oeuvres/dessert style menu? Obviously I'm not sure what to call this yet! Haha. Here's what I'm thinking:

Dessert table

Wedding cake/Cookies/Cupcakes/Pies/Doughnuts


Tea and coffee bar
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, toppings (sprinkles, whipped cream, etc)/Scones/Coffee cake/Muffins/Croissants/Macaroons/Mini sandwiches 

Hors d'oeuvres
Various meats and cheeses/Crackers/Mini Subs/Pinwheel Wraps/Chips and dips/Vegetable platter/Fruit platter

Drinks
Tea/Lemonade/Water/Hard Cider and Beer/Red sangria/White sangria


Another question: What SHOULD I indicate this style of reception as on an invitation? We would absolutely WORD IT CORRECTLY so that guests know that there will be no formal sit down dinner. We will start the reception sometime between 2:30-3:45pm and end between 7pm-8pm. Our timeline isn't complete.


If you have any additional menu suggestions or advice that would definitely help too! Keep in mind that a lot of these items will be bought in bulk from Costco or Sam's but some things (like the cupcakes and doughnuts) will be bought from our favorite local specialty shops. 


PS: Please be KIND with your opinions. I've seen some NASTY forums which I why I've NEVER posted but I need suggestions. Thanks!!

donethat

Best Answers

Re: Afternoon tea/hors d'oeuvres/dessert reception

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    member
    For this time of day your menu sounds good. I'd consider some soda drink options as well.
  • asp1993asp1993
    5 Love Its First Comment
    member
    edited February 21
  • I wasn't sure when we'd start the ceremony! I'm starting to think 2pm from suggestions. Thanks!
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    The way you convey to your guests that a meal is not part of the reception is from the timing of the reception. That means if the reception doesn't go over a meal time, a meal isn't expected. As PPs have said, your menu sounds great for an afternoon reception.

     If you start you ceremony at 2pm, assuming it is over in 30 mins your reception would start at 2:30. On your invitation you would say that a reception is to follow. Are you having dancing, toasts, cake cutting and such? You don't have to, but keep in mind timing might get a little tight in a 2 and 1/2 hour time frame. If you aren't having dancing and toasts, then your time frame should work fine. This was the type of wedding I had years ago. Our ceremony was at 3pm. Receptions was hot and cold hors d'oeurves, cake, and drinks. It was over by 5:30. We had cake cutting and bouquet toss but no dancing or toasts.
    STARMOON44ahoyweddingshort+sassy
  • I’d make the whole thing 2-5 and your proposed menu is perfect.  My sister was invited to a wedding last summer that actually said “ceremony at 2, cake and cocktails to follow”, and it ended up being a spread similar to what you’re offering, not just cake. But I don’t think you have to do that, just make sure it’s done before dinner time.
    charlotte989875ahoyweddingshort+sassy
  • Agree with PPs about the timing; with it ending between 7-8, it implies that a meal will be served. If it ended before dinner hours, you're good! If you do plan to do any of the typical "wedding" things (cake cutting, first dance, toasts) you may need a little bit more time, but maybe you could start earlier?

    You could list it on your invitations as a cake and punch reception or light snacks to follow, etc. I know technical etiquette says you don't list the level of hosting, but it's generally acceptable to give the guests a heads up.
  • The way you convey to your guests that a meal is not part of the reception is from the timing of the reception. That means if the reception doesn't go over a meal time, a meal isn't expected. As PPs have said, your menu sounds great for an afternoon reception.

     If you start you ceremony at 2pm, assuming it is over in 30 mins your reception would start at 2:30. On your invitation you would say that a reception is to follow. Are you having dancing, toasts, cake cutting and such? You don't have to, but keep in mind timing might get a little tight in a 2 and 1/2 hour time frame. If you aren't having dancing and toasts, then your time frame should work fine. This was the type of wedding I had years ago. Our ceremony was at 3pm. Receptions was hot and cold hors d'oeurves, cake, and drinks. It was over by 5:30. We had cake cutting and bouquet toss but no dancing or toasts.
    I'll agree with this IF you put an end time on the reception.

    Our ceremony started at 2 w/ a reception that started at 4 (Catholic and no gap) and we had a full meal and reception ended at 10.  

    If I received an invitation to an event that listed reception start time and not end time, I'd assume I'm getting a full meal.    If the reception ends anytime after 6, I'd assume full meal. 
    charlotte989875
  • I think 2-6 would also be fine if you want a little more time. I'd think about a few heavier apps - I actually don't think what you mentioned is "heavy" at all. To me, cheese and crackers and fruits and veggies is like the definition of "light" apps. Some suggestions for heavy apps -  flatbread pizzas, mediterranean dips and pita (hummus, tzatziki, babganoush), pigs in a blanket, empanadas, meat skewers like chicken satay or beef satay, coconut shrimp, spring rolls, baked brie in phyllo, scallops wrapped in bacon, loaded potato skins etc. Basically like, hot food. 
  • asp1993 said:

    (snip)

    Here's what I'm thinking:

    Dessert table

    Wedding cake/Cookies (as favors)/Cupcakes/Pies/Doughnuts

    Tea and coffee bar
    Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, toppings (sprinkles, whipped cream, lemon wedges, sugar, sugar substitute, cream etc)/Scones/Coffee cake/Muffins/Croissants/Macaroons/Mini sandwiches 

    Hors d'oeuvres
    Various meats and cheeses/Crackers/Mini Subs/Pinwheel Wraps/Chips and dips/Vegetable platter/Fruit platter

    Drinks
    Tea/Lemonade/Water/Hard Cider and Beer/Red sangria/White sangria

    Another question: What SHOULD I indicate this style of reception as on an invitation? We would absolutely WORD IT CORRECTLY so that guests know that there will be no formal sit down dinner. We will start the reception sometime between 2:30-3:45pm and end between 7pm-8pm. Our timeline isn't complete.

    (snip)

    If you aren't going to serve a meal, the entire event (ceremony and reception) needs to happen between meal times. I would have a 2:00 ceremony and a reception from 2:30-5 or (latest) 6pm. Ending at 7-8pm without serving dinner is just too late. 

    I made some edits to your menu above to make it more simple. If you have a ton of options, you'll be more likely to run out of one thing, run out of table space/be refilling things constantly, and to just be managing way too much stuff. Also, it was SUPER pastry heavy and lacking in "real food" so I would suggest adding two or three of the following options (or options like them - actual heavy apps):

    - meatballs
    - shrimp cocktail
    - deviled eggs
    - mini crab cakes
    - caprese skewers
    - chicken wings or satay skewers
    - prosciutto and puff pastry wrapped asparagus 

    You do not need to indicate anything on the invitation except that people are invited to your wedding and reception. People know that if an event starts at 2 and ends at 5, there's no meal. And even if they don't understand that, ending the event at 5 (or 6) gives them plenty of time to go get dinner. You just need to make sure you end it then so you don't get into bad hosting territory.
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    STARMOON44CMGragainshort+sassy
  • Thank you for the suggestions! Yes, I think I'm going to add more savory options and take away some sweets!

    PS: I'm keeping the cider, it's a fall wedding and my fav. ;-) 
    southernbelle0915donethatshort+sassy
  • Thanks! Don't worry, we will definitely take care of our elders! <3
    donethatshort+sassy
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