Choosing Your Wedding Reception Meal Style - Morsel - The Honest Food Co

September 23, 2020

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it a LOT more, when it comes to your wedding, you really can have it however you want – including the way you choose to dine. Perhaps you’re partial to a platter, or like to walk while you fork? All about communal, or desperate for an individual dinner that no one else will touch? Whatever your flavour, it’s your day (and your partner’s, don’t forget your partner), which means it really and truly can and should be done your way.

 

We wanted all the details on the wedding different reception meal styles as well as the pros and cons of each (and thought you might too), so we spoke to one of our brilliant vendors: the best in the southern biz, Wanaka’s private dining and event catering specialists, Morsel – The Honest Food Co.

 

Morsel, take it away! (Or dine in, if that’s what you’re into)

 

Morsel – Who we are…

 

Catering can be one of the biggest, and most heavily scrutinised, aspects of a wedding. Everyone eats, so everyone remembers the food (worryingly intoxicated cousins excluded).

 

At Morsel, we specialise in seasonal bespoke wedding catering. Our chefs have cooked all over the world, bringing a wealth of knowledge, creativity and passion to your day. Whether you’re after an elopement dinner for two or a five-course, 200-person lunch on one of Central Otago’s stunning peaks – we’ll go above and beyond to make it happen.

 

We like to make sure every couple’s food experience is easy, stress-free and transparent – one less thing to worry about. We understand that guest dietary requirements and last-minute changes in numbers can add a whole lot of unwanted stress to your wedding menu – but that’s where we come in. If Aunt Beryl arrives with an uninvited lover who just so happens to be both strictly vegan and severely coeliac…no problem! We’ve got it covered. Our menus are flexible, seasonal and personalised – with options for every requirement imaginable – so couples can relax knowing everyone will be eating, drinking and very, very merry.  

 

Like all good wedding vendors, we often find ourselves getting booked up quite far in advance – so it pays to get in touch as soon as possible. If you want to go ahead and book with us, that’s great. We’ll talk about options, put together a quote, take a 30% deposit payment and lock that delicious date of yours in – leaving plenty of time for you to make suggestions, requests and changes before the day itself.

 

With Morsel, the sky (or the tip of the tallest Otago peak) really is the limit plus, we're offering a complimentary mezze grazing platter to all weddings booked in the 2021 summer season!

 

 

Groom serving meal at wedding

 

SEATED DINING

 

Plated

How it works

A plated dinner is the most formal way of feeding your guests. You can have just a main or add an amouse/entrée/dessert/cheese course if you like. There are a few ways to do this. The first being your traditional plated menu, everyone gets the same dish except for the people with dietary requirements who will receive their own special plates.

 

Pros:

  • Sets a very formal tone to the wedding
  • Couples are able to keep the food costs tighter     compared to other forms of dining (like banquette) where we need to     provide more food to allow for people to over serve themselves

Cons:

  • No room for variety, likes & dislikes of guests
  • Extra manpower is needed to serve everyone in a timely manner so the staff costs are increased

 

The second way is an alternate drop. This is where the couple selects two dishes and they are served alternately to guests who can then swap amongst themselves. Guests with dietary requirements will receive their own special plates.

 

Pros:

  • Still a formal plated vibe
  • Guests have an excuse to interact with each other to swap dishes if they wish
  • Couples are able to keep the budget tighter compared to other forms of dining (like banquette) where we need to provide more food to allow for people to over serve themselves
  • A little room for variety

Cons:

  • Extra manpower is needed to serve everyone in a timely manner so the staff costs are increased
  • Not a lot of variety in dinner options

 

 

The third is for guests to choose from 2 options prior to the wedding, guests with dietary requirements will receive their own special plates.

Pros:

  • Still a formal plated vibe
  • Guests have the chance to get excited about the menu & feel they are more in control of their meal
  • Couples are able to keep the food costs tighter compared to other forms of dining (like banquette) where we need to provide more food to allow for people to over serve themselves

 

Cons

  • Extra man power is needed to serve everyone in a timely manner so the staff costs are increased
  • Still not that much variety in dinner options
  • Creates a lot more admin for the couples to organise. A load of extra emails, very detailed seating plans & conversations about allergens with the caterer & guests

 

Pro Tips:

Adding in courses can be a great way to break up the meal, peppering the in between bits with speeches is a great way to achieve a ‘long lunch’ vibe. However, we find that entrees etc are not always needed and extra courses can tend to blow the budget out.

 

Wedding seated dining.

 

Family style

How it works

This is by far the most popular type of dining, it’s like a big family banquette with guests helping themselves to platters of food on the table. For guests with allergies that cannot be accommodated within the variety of dishes we provide a special plated meal.

Pros: 

  • Gives a lovely family vibe with guests interacting and sharing food with each other
  • Ensures a large variety of dishes
  • People can help themselves to seconds if they like
  • Less staff are needed to serve the platters of food to everyone


Cons 

  • Can take a little longer for people to finish their meals due to a lot of chatting & passing food
  • We need to over cater to allow for people to over-serve themselves – which increases costs
  • The hire cost – platters & serveware – will be more
  • Need a lot more room for the platters on the table which can get a little tricky with any table decorations

 

Pro Tips:

We love serving food this way because of the social, family style vibe it creates. Loads of wedding buddies are made sharing food at dinner time; which almost guarantees a better dance floor later on. Don’t get too carried away with the choices, we recommend x2 Meat/Protein dishes & x3 side dishes. Otherwise the flavours can get a bit conflicting & choices overwhelming.

 

Morsel wedding catering shared dining.

Buffet

How it works

A buffet meal is where guests get up from their seat and approach a table with platters of food laid out. The way we do it is to have staff liaising between the kitchen and the buffet table doing top ups of dishes. This ensures the food is fresh and not sitting around for ages before the last few guests are able to get their meal. It is a more causal way to feed everyone but still with the seated dinner feel.

Pros:

  • Most guests love to stand and have a wander, time to use the loo & chat with people on other tables; it creates a very social atmosphere
  • Fits well into a structured timeline
  • Food is always fresh from the kitchen – we aim to serve 10 people per platter so we are constantly running fresh food to the buffet. It also looks great all laid out together
  • Less staff & hire are required, so you can save money here
  • People can pick what they want to eat and even come back for seconds if they’re still hungry

 

Cons:

  • It will take longer for guests to be finished as it takes a while (about an hour) to get 100 – 150 people through a buffet station to plates cleared
  • Some people would prefer to be served at the table
  • We need to over cater to allow for guests to over  serve themselves so there is more food costs involved

Pro Tips:

Consider the order of tables that you want to eat first. You will want your key guests to eat right after the head table so let us control the flow of people to the buffet to make sure it all runs smoothly and nobody feels left out. Guests who have allergies that cannot be accommodated within the menu can have their own individual plates of food made up to ensure they are satisfied.

 

 

STANDING SERVICE

 

Walk and Fork

How it works

Walk & fork is a great, casual way to serve dinner. There is no ‘formal’, seated dinner service. Guests mingle between themselves while the food circulates like a canapé service. The portions of food are bigger than a canapé and served oncompostable dinnerware; with the idea of guests grazing on multiple helpings as they come around. The food keeps circulating until the guests are no longer hungry.

 

Pros:

  • It gives a very informal, party like vibe with no timing structure necessary
  • Easily manoeuvrable in case of questionable weather
  • Any leftovers can be left behind the bar in their containers for later on in the evening
  • Less staff & hire costs

 

Cons:

  • Guests may not feel comfortable or able to eat standing & mid conversation. They can be holding on to things like drinks or handbags which can make it a little tricky
  • People tend not to eat as much as a seated service; which can effect guests ‘longevity’ for the evening
  • Doesn’t encourage the guests to mingle outside of their already established groups

 

Pro Tips:

A great idea is to add supper to this dinner service which is served in the same, Walk & Fork style later on in the evening once the dancing has got underway. This ensures anyone who is still a little hungry can soak up any excess alcohol and continue dancing on into the night. And make sure you do have a few tables & chairs scattered around for older guests and those who like to eat sitting down.

 

Walk and Fork wedding dining

Food Truck

How it works

This is the ultimate in casual wedding dining. With our food truck (her name’s Fanny) parked up and guests approaching the food truck to get something to eat. The food comes out in compostable boxes which are cleared away as the guests finish up. People can come up and order food as they like.

Pros:

  • Creates a fun, party like atmosphere
  • The cheapest wedding dinner package as the staff & hire costs are very low
  • Leftover food can be packaged up and left behind the bar for later on
  • Guests can interact with chefs & see them in action. This is especially good for people with dietary requirements.

 

Cons:

  • Dinner service can take a little longer than a  seated service
  • Some guests can be shy about ordering food, if this happens, we start passing out the food on trays (like a walk & fork service) to get it started.

Like the sound of the above? Every summer 2021 wedding booked with Morsel will be gifted a complimentary mezze grazing platter, get in quick as they are booking up quick.

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Morse food truck in Queenstown.

Photo credit

Cover and Image 1: Acorn Photography

Image 2: Bonnie Jenkins

Image 3: Acorn Photography

Image 4: Charlotte Kiri Photography

Image 5: Acorn Photography