Real Bride Question: Sit-Down Meal or Hors d’Oeuvres?

Dear Sask Ever After,

I have a dilemma that I hope you can help me out with. We are having an evening wedding this summer. The idea is that we will get married at 7 pm and have our reception and dance to follow. Because of the timeline we were not wanting to have an actual sit-down supper, just snacks or something instead. However, after reading a bunch online and talking to family and friends, the consensus is that this is a tacky move. We think that having a meal will make the evening program go too long, and don’t want to spend a bunch on a meal that could be rushed. Help!



Dear Mrs,

First off, I have to tell you that I love the idea of an evening wedding. The elegance and romance of it all. I can picture the last glow of the summer sun as it sets and a candle lit ceremony. Your guests are going to appreciate not having to dedicate their whole day to a nuptials event and will look forward to a nice evening out. Doing something unique like this will have people talking for years to come.

However, we won’t want them talking about the lack of provisions. I do understand where the apprehension is coming from, as an actual meal is traditionally what is expected at a wedding reception. There are a couple ideas that can help you out with having an evening focused on festivities and not a drawn-out program.

To be honest if I was invited to a wedding that began at 7 pm I would assume that there wouldn’t be a supper, though I may have attended more weddings then the average person. What it comes down to is that if guests know that there isn’t a meal, they won’t be shocked when there isn’t a meal. I know that sounds basic and to the point, but we can’t assume that every guest attending has been to many weddings and will pick up on the subtlety of the 7 pm ceremony time (i.e. since the wedding begins after supper, there won’t be a supper). To get around this you could simply mention on the invitation: “Hors d’Oeuvres Reception to Follow.” This way your guests will know what type of food will be served.

Speaking of type of food, if you have an upscale menu of bites then you may also get around the negative notion of having ‘snacks’ over a full meal. You don’t have to break the bank on this, but think of a few items that will step up the roster. Serving items like chilled shrimp or a crostini with goat cheese and bruschetta are both inexpensive but will look really great in your spread. You could even ask a couple of coworkers or friends to walk around and serve some of the hors d’oeuvres. This always makes the presentation look really nice and upscale. Promise your servers a few drinks at the bar and you will be set. Some of the fare that you could keep on a stationary table could be as simple as a ‘make your own sandwiches’ station. Have some fancy condiments and some unique cheeses and that will add some interest to the typical midnight lunch sandwich.

To be honest, I feel that the stigma of not having a sit-down meal lies with the idea that guests are expected to bring a wedding gift with a price tag of around $100, and in exchange have a meal that reflects that. With that thought in mind, I have been to many weddings with a meal that was sit-down and quite simple. Would that make me feel like I got my ‘$100 worth’ over having bite-sized food instead? I don’t think so. I have also attended weddings where they had a beautiful array of snacks and hors d’oeuvres and I felt that the experience was more exotic and interesting. I don’t think one was ‘better’ than the other.

In the end, it is your wedding and you should be able to do what you want. Keep in mind that weddings are meant to be a celebration with good food and drinks. With the above-mentioned ways to make your budget friendly hors d’oeuvres look a little more upscale, I am sure that no one will miss out on a sit-down meal.

– Sask Ever After


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