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Different Formats for Your Dinner Service

June 26, 2009

When deciding on dinner, most couples think of two options: guests can either wait in a long buffet line for a variety of starches and a roast beef carving station, or, they can enjoy tableside service typically divided into three to five standard courses including appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert. While both buffet dinners and plated meals will please most guests, they are definitely predictable. Here are a few options to spice up the dinner presentation at your wedding:

Hiring a variety of chefs to customize and prepare dinner right in front of your guests is always a crowd pleaser. The guests get to interact with the food preparation choosing what sauce to put on their pasta, or what temperature they would like their Ahi. Stations are a unique presentation of food which will not only fill their stomachs, but also entertain them as well. When selecting a station style menu, be sure to choose a station for each “course”. You could have a Sushi Station for an appetizer, tossed salad display, a risotto bar for the starch and then for the entrée, have a chef boil lobster or crab legs. While this is an impressive style of service to most, the men on your guest list will be talking about the meal for days after your event.

Just like it sounds, family style dinner service is where large platters of food are placed in the center of each dinner table. Guests take their food and pass the plate to the next guest. This style of service is a great compromise between plated and buffet style meals, as it offers the variety of a buffet with some of the formality of a plated dinner. It is also the best way to get your guests talking and interacting during dinner. When planning a family style menu, make sure to stay away from messy items like pasta, or any meats with heavy sauces. Offer two to three meat options as well as two to three sides. One salad should do.

While most tasting menus are coursed out like a plated meal, some people prefer to serve them family style as well. Take your pick, but no matter how the meal is presented, you cannot go wrong with small tastings of eight to 10 different dishes. This is perfect for your guests if they love trying a little bit of everything. Consider a theme such as an Asian inspired tasting menu with Pot Stickers, Miso Butterfish and Green Tea Brulee or and even an Indian menu with Tamoori Chicken and a variety of Curries. No matter how you design the dinner, be sure to provide a printed menu at each place setting so each guest will know what they’re eating.

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