Wedding Reception Forum

Hors D'oeuvres vs. Sit Down

Hello all, 
 My FH and I are not getting any help paying for our wedding, and I refuse to take out loans so I have finally given up on my once dreamed of big, beautiful, sit down ballroom, extravaganza. 

I have priced many places all over the state and have found one place near us that will do a 4 hour open bar, with hors d'oeuvres and dessert. 

There will be a small table with cheeses, dips, veggies, crackers, etc.
Then there will be a buffet style,(and some butler style)
Chicken tenderloins, vegetable spring rolls, coconut shrimp, teriyaki beef satays, and scallops wrapped in bacon. (plus more)
There will also be a pasta station with two different types of pasta and a basket of garlic bread.
Dessert will be a buffet of eclairs, neapolitans, cannolies, petite cream puffs,cookies, brownies, cordials and I already asked her if we could also bring in our own cake as well. 

I guess I just want an honest opinion about if this seems like enough to make a fun reception. I already asked friends and family but I don't know if they are just trying to ease some of my stress.

We do plan on having it on a Friday night. (I feel like a Saturday night I would HAVE to do a sit down).

I know the wording on the invitation would have to be clear about not having a sit down so I would also like advice on that. I was thinking like, "Hors D'oeuvres, drinks and dancing to follow" ?

Thank you!


Re: Hors D'oeuvres vs. Sit Down

  • Hello all, 
     My FH and I are not getting any help paying for our wedding, and I refuse to take out loans so I have finally given up on my once dreamed of big, beautiful, sit down ballroom, extravaganza. 

    I have priced many places all over the state and have found one place near us that will do a 4 hour open bar, with hors d'oeuvres and dessert. 

    There will be a small table with cheeses, dips, veggies, crackers, etc.
    Then there will be a buffet style,(and some butler style)
    Chicken tenderloins, vegetable spring rolls, coconut shrimp, teriyaki beef satays, and scallops wrapped in bacon. (plus more)
    There will also be a pasta station with two different types of pasta and a basket of garlic bread.
    Dessert will be a buffet of eclairs, neapolitans, cannolies, petite cream puffs,cookies, brownies, cordials and I already asked her if we could also bring in our own cake as well. 

    I guess I just want an honest opinion about if this seems like enough to make a fun reception. I already asked friends and family but I don't know if they are just trying to ease some of my stress.

    We do plan on having it on a Friday night. (I feel like a Saturday night I would HAVE to do a sit down).

    I know the wording on the invitation would have to be clear about not having a sit down so I would also like advice on that. I was thinking like, "Hors D'oeuvres, drinks and dancing to follow" ?

    Thank you!


    By not having a sit down you just mean guests are seated and served their meal? Guests still will all have tables/chairs to eat at they are just buffet? Your meal is perfectly fine, I myself had a buffet Saturday reception and it was a great time. 
    You should not have wording on the invitation about what type of reception, just have "reception to follow".
    image
  • Yes! They will have plenty of room to sit down and eat. The buffet is just a buffet of finger foods though and pasta. I was told by the owner that they do replenish the food though (because I was worried about my guests not getting enough). 
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    If you have your heart set on just finger foods, might I suggest either a mid-afternoon or late night reception (not around a meal time)? 
    Mcm0401InLoveInQueens
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited March 2017
    There is nothing wrong with your plans as long as there are tables and chairs for everyone.  Buffet receptions are fine!
    It is not usual to have wording on the invitation that describes the food offered at your reception or entertainment (dancing).  As long as there is enough food to make up a meal, you do not need to specify what will be served.  "Reception to follow" is correct.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    Mcm0401SP29
  • ei34ei34 member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I think four-hour cocktail receptions are fine during dinner time as long as there's enough food for guests to have eaten as much as they would've at a more traditional dinner.  The pasta station is a good start, but the small table of cheese and crackers with passed hors d'ouevres won't cut it.  You're smart to not go into debt over your wedding, but see if your venue could give you a good price on a carving station/mashed potato bar, and maybe platters of wraps and paninis with nice salads and pasta salads?  Or something along those lines.
    Your dessert spread sounds phenomenal  :)
    OurWildKingdomMcm0401SP29ernursej
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    The rule is, you need to offer appropriate food and drink for the time of day. What you actually offer is up to you.

    It is OK to offer finger type foods in place of meal- as long as each guest will get enough food to cover a meal (i.e. a plate full of food covering the main food groups). Looking back at what your options are- I think it's pretty good actually! You've got chicken tenders, beef satays, shrimp, bacon/scallops, as well as pastas and some other items to pick at. I would see if you can throw a lettuce based salad in there for some veggies. As long as the venue will actually replenish everything (including the meat), I think you are more than fine.

    I attended an appetizer reception once. It was done really well and I actually ate more than I normally would because there was lots of variety, so I wanted to try everything. I am sure I filled my plate twice and left stuffed.

    Beyond that, you don't need to describe what you are offering for your reception- because it is presumed you are properly hosting it. You simply say "Reception to follow".

    If you are not offering a meal, your wedding should be at a non-meal time. Either the afternoon, or after 7pm. But either way, since you are having a Friday wedding, I would suggest starting your wedding as late as you can in order to give guests time to travel (can you do your ceremony at 7pm?). One of my friends got married on a Friday with ceremony at 5pm. Sure, people should plan accordingly and show up on time, but lots of people were coming from work and showed up minutes before the bride walked down the aisle or late and stood at the back for the ceremony.

    What you offer on a Friday night vs. a Saturday night shouldn't be any different. If anything, I would offer a better fair on a Friday night as your guests may have come from work and not had time to eat anything all afternoon, vs. a Sat where your guests *could* get a bite to eat before the wedding.

    I will agree that you may find a buffet dinner cheaper than the apps as it's easier to make large batches of salad/pasta/chicken/vegetables than a bunch of little items. See if it's an option.
    OurWildKingdomCMGragain
  • Seems like plenty to me!  My husband's cousin did an appetizers only reception.  His mother complained and called it "lawyer food" but I thought it was great!  The only thing that bothered me is that there weren't too many places to sit down.  They had a scattering of tall cocktail tables with stools but not enough for everyone in attendance.  So just make sure people can sit down and I think you're good to go!
  • Seems like plenty to me!  My husband's cousin did an appetizers only reception.  His mother complained and called it "lawyer food" but I thought it was great!  The only thing that bothered me is that there weren't too many places to sit down.  They had a scattering of tall cocktail tables with stools but not enough for everyone in attendance.  So just make sure people can sit down and I think you're good to go!
    What the heck is lawyer food?
    sparklepants41
  • I think of this as completely different than a buffet reception, which has a set dinner time where there is no dancing, everyone is called up to eat and seated at tabled. I think of an hors devours reception as more open and free flowing with stations and people getting up, mingling, and sitting at their leisure.

    Am I off base?
    SP29ei34
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I think of this as completely different than a buffet reception, which has a set dinner time where there is no dancing, everyone is called up to eat and seated at tabled. I think of an hors devours reception as more open and free flowing with stations and people getting up, mingling, and sitting at their leisure.

    Am I off base?
    I would agree. The hors d'evours reception would be a more free flowing event. No specific lines, guests getting different food items at different times, taking as much or as little as they want, then going back up again later. Though the stations may still only be out for a set period of time with dancing later- easier to keep food items fresh and at the right temperature.
  • SP29 said:
    I think of this as completely different than a buffet reception, which has a set dinner time where there is no dancing, everyone is called up to eat and seated at tabled. I think of an hors devours reception as more open and free flowing with stations and people getting up, mingling, and sitting at their leisure.

    Am I off base?
    I would agree. The hors d'evours reception would be a more free flowing event. No specific lines, guests getting different food items at different times, taking as much or as little as they want, then going back up again later. Though the stations may still only be out for a set period of time with dancing later- easier to keep food items fresh and at the right temperature.

    This is how I envisioned it! Personally, I think it's fine as long as you have a few "heavier" items, which you do. I don't think it needs to be communicated on the invites, but somehow you need to let people know that this is dinner. In my region, really heavy cocktail hours with carving stations and whatnot are pretty standard, DEFINITELY enough to be dinner, but I've always had to pace myself so I don't eat too much that I can't even touch dinner or make myself sick. IDK, I could see myself seeing lots of yummy food and just picking or taking little tastes because I thought dinner was coming later. Maybe a sign would be a good way to communicate this? 
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited March 2017
    I think of this as completely different than a buffet reception, which has a set dinner time where there is no dancing, everyone is called up to eat and seated at tabled. I think of an hors devours reception as more open and free flowing with stations and people getting up, mingling, and sitting at their leisure.

    Am I off base?
    As a guest, I might be a bit confused.  I know that guests are not supposed to dance until the bride and groom show up and have their first dance.  Is the food being served when the guests first come in, or are they waiting for the couple?  As a guest, I might worry about making a faux pas.
    My daughter had a buffet luncheon reception with dancing.  There were cruditees and drinks served before the couple made their entrance.  Then the food was served.  Is that what you planned?  How long is the food being served, and how does the venue keep it hot, or are we talking cold food?
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    kaos16 said:
    Seems like plenty to me!  My husband's cousin did an appetizers only reception.  His mother complained and called it "lawyer food" but I thought it was great!  The only thing that bothered me is that there weren't too many places to sit down.  They had a scattering of tall cocktail tables with stools but not enough for everyone in attendance.  So just make sure people can sit down and I think you're good to go!
    What the heck is lawyer food?
    My guess is it's synonymous with something you would get at a business event (nothing wrong with that, as long as you provide enough food).
  • Ro041Ro041 member
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    kaos16 said:
    Seems like plenty to me!  My husband's cousin did an appetizers only reception.  His mother complained and called it "lawyer food" but I thought it was great!  The only thing that bothered me is that there weren't too many places to sit down.  They had a scattering of tall cocktail tables with stools but not enough for everyone in attendance.  So just make sure people can sit down and I think you're good to go!
    What the heck is lawyer food?
    FI and I are both lawyers and we generally only order apps and then split them when we go out to eat.  I didn't realize this was a pre-req in the profession, though.   :D

    OurWildKingdomsparklepants41MyNameIsNotthespeshulestsnowflake
  • CMGragain said:
    I think of this as completely different than a buffet reception, which has a set dinner time where there is no dancing, everyone is called up to eat and seated at tabled. I think of an hors devours reception as more open and free flowing with stations and people getting up, mingling, and sitting at their leisure.

    Am I off base?
    As a guest, I might be a bit confused.  I know that guests are not supposed to dance until the bride and groom show up and have their first dance.  Is the food being served when the guests first come in, or are they waiting for the couple?  As a guest, I might worry about making a faux pas.
    My daughter had a buffet luncheon reception with dancing.  There were cruditees and drinks served before the couple made their entrance.  Then the food was served.  Is that what you planned?  How long is the food being served, and how does the venue keep it hot, or are we talking cold food?

    All good questions, but I am not the OP. Question was more directed at people who compared the OPs idea to a buffet reception, which, IME is something different.
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    CMGragain said:
    I think of this as completely different than a buffet reception, which has a set dinner time where there is no dancing, everyone is called up to eat and seated at tabled. I think of an hors devours reception as more open and free flowing with stations and people getting up, mingling, and sitting at their leisure.

    Am I off base?
    As a guest, I might be a bit confused.  I know that guests are not supposed to dance until the bride and groom show up and have their first dance.  Is the food being served when the guests first come in, or are they waiting for the couple?  As a guest, I might worry about making a faux pas.
    My daughter had a buffet luncheon reception with dancing.  There were cruditees and drinks served before the couple made their entrance.  Then the food was served.  Is that what you planned?  How long is the food being served, and how does the venue keep it hot, or are we talking cold food?
    If the hor's deouvres are being served as the meal, it would not be offered until the bride and groom are present- similar to any other dinner, just the style of service and food offered would be different.
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    SP29 said:
    CMGragain said:
    I think of this as completely different than a buffet reception, which has a set dinner time where there is no dancing, everyone is called up to eat and seated at tabled. I think of an hors devours reception as more open and free flowing with stations and people getting up, mingling, and sitting at their leisure.

    Am I off base?
    As a guest, I might be a bit confused.  I know that guests are not supposed to dance until the bride and groom show up and have their first dance.  Is the food being served when the guests first come in, or are they waiting for the couple?  As a guest, I might worry about making a faux pas.
    My daughter had a buffet luncheon reception with dancing.  There were cruditees and drinks served before the couple made their entrance.  Then the food was served.  Is that what you planned?  How long is the food being served, and how does the venue keep it hot, or are we talking cold food?
    If the hor's deouvres are being served as the meal, it would not be offered until the bride and groom are present- similar to any other dinner, just the style of service and food offered would be different.
    My daughter and SIL were present for much of their cocktail hour which was followed by a seated dinner. 
  • Ro041 said:
    kaos16 said:
    Seems like plenty to me!  My husband's cousin did an appetizers only reception.  His mother complained and called it "lawyer food" but I thought it was great!  The only thing that bothered me is that there weren't too many places to sit down.  They had a scattering of tall cocktail tables with stools but not enough for everyone in attendance.  So just make sure people can sit down and I think you're good to go!
    What the heck is lawyer food?
    FI and I are both lawyers and we generally only order apps and then split them when we go out to eat.  I didn't realize this was a pre-req in the profession, though.   :D


    DH and I are both lawyers also.  When we go out to eat we eat the same as anyone else in the restaurant. . . . or so I thought.  Have a little app, dinner, wine, and call it a night!


    InLoveInQueens
  • I think your menu sounds delicious! Since your wedding is Friday night, I would do a 7:30 ceremony with 8-11 reception. That way, most will not expect dinner to be served and your additional communication that it's "hors d'oeuvres, drinks and dancing to follow" should clue the others in. If you felt additional communication was necessary, you could do a "host toast" (since y'all are the ones hosting) after intros where you thank people for coming and put in a plug about the format.

    As long as you have enough seats I think you're fine. If you aren't assigning seating, the rule would be about 15% additional seats to account for people leaving space between each other and not filling tables. 
    *********************************************************************************

    image
    OurWildKingdommollybarker11SP29
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Ro041 said:
    kaos16 said:
    Seems like plenty to me!  My husband's cousin did an appetizers only reception.  His mother complained and called it "lawyer food" but I thought it was great!  The only thing that bothered me is that there weren't too many places to sit down.  They had a scattering of tall cocktail tables with stools but not enough for everyone in attendance.  So just make sure people can sit down and I think you're good to go!
    What the heck is lawyer food?
    FI and I are both lawyers and we generally only order apps and then split them when we go out to eat.  I didn't realize this was a pre-req in the profession, though.   :D
    LMAO.  apps are my jam.  There's a place that has better apps that entree's so I just order up a bunch of those.  And really, it costs more!

    ILoveBeachMusicSP29
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Ro041 said:
    kaos16 said:
    Seems like plenty to me!  My husband's cousin did an appetizers only reception.  His mother complained and called it "lawyer food" but I thought it was great!  The only thing that bothered me is that there weren't too many places to sit down.  They had a scattering of tall cocktail tables with stools but not enough for everyone in attendance.  So just make sure people can sit down and I think you're good to go!
    What the heck is lawyer food?
    FI and I are both lawyers and we generally only order apps and then split them when we go out to eat.  I didn't realize this was a pre-req in the profession, though.   :D
    LMAO.  apps are my jam.  There's a place that has better apps that entree's so I just order up a bunch of those.  And really, it costs more!
    For a long time we had way to many apps at Christmas dinners (get together with friends). A couple of years we decided to just do apps instead of any entree. It was wonderful and delicious!
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    For a long time we had way to many apps at Christmas dinners (get together with friends). A couple of years we decided to just do apps instead of any entree. It was wonderful and delicious!
    Honestly, by the time my food gets there, I'm full anyway after eating apps.  Especially if an app is soup!

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