How to Choose Your Reception Dinner

28 Nov

Florentine Chicken - CopyPoring over different menu options for your wedding reception? Not sure what foods will best suit your style of event, season or guest taste buds?

Mary-Anne Lowe, Managing Director from wedding venues Bram Leigh and the Riverstone Winery Estate, guest posts to share her expertise on how to best select (and enjoy!) your first meal together as a married couple.

Food, glorious food… you hope!
One of the most common questions asked by brides to be is in the search for the perfect reception is “can we taste the food?”. This is always a curly question for some venues as, if they are not a specialist wedding venue, they may be too busy running conferences or a restaurant to be able to dedicate time to ensuring that the bride and groom are confident in their menu choices.

Every couple has the same niggling thought when looking at venues: how do I know the food is great? No one wants the wedding to be remembered as the one where everyone was starving and had to stop by McDonald’s on the way home from the wedding.

Bra017Many venues, like Bramleigh, offer tasting evenings which a wonderful way in sampling the venue’s culinary delights.  It would be daunting to roll the dice on one of the most important elements of the reception, so ask plenty of questions, or perhaps talk to bridal couples who have already had their wedding there.  Do your research as the wedding food should leave a lasting impression on the guests.

Menu selections vary widely depending on the style of reception you are considering; however, the majority of weddings are comprised of a three-course sit-down meal with alternate service for the guests.  However, there is a suite of other options, including two-courses plus the wedding cake for dessert, the cocktail style wedding with finger food or buffets.  Weddings receptions are also not restricted to the evenings with brunches also popping up.  Diversity, uniqueness and budget all come into play.

Antipasto - Copy-1For spring and summer weddings, you should look for a lighter entrée option as the weather may be much warmer; Thai beef salad or salt and pepper calamari are both options that guests will love and without over-indulge on heavy food. The main course sees the traditional options of a red and white meat; however, herb-crusted rack of lamb is always top of the list. Seafood is always a winner during the hotter months and is a top choice.

Desserts can vary from a pavlova covered with fresh berries and double cream, to a citrus tart or my personal summer favourite: créme brûlée.

Winter weddings generally see a choice of much heartier meals; creamy soups to warm the guests (soup shots are a fun pre-dinner alternative), lamb shanks and hot desserts including sticky date pudding feature strongly .

When planning your wedding meal your main consideration should be: what would the majority of guests enjoy? Trust me, it’s not the random fish dish or the most expensive sounding options. Aim to choose meals that the guests will recognise and enjoy. Special dietary requirements are catered separately so put this aside when considering the main menu.

Chocolate Induglence garnished - CopyEven though everyone has different tastes, it would also be a good question to ask on what is the most popular meals on the menu.  This is a great barometer on what the most likeable options would be to satisfy a big crowd!

An important note about dietary requirements is to ensure that your invitation has the option for guests to RSVP with any special meal requirements. You may be surprised to know that up to 10% of guests may have a special dietary requirement; vegetarian, lactose-, fructose- or gluten-free are just the tip of the iceberg! The only way that the wedding meal is not compromised for those guests is by providing the relevant notice to your wedding venue.

Food is such a joyous element in the wedding preparation so being subjective and indulgent with what you choose.  Even though the bride may barely touch her meal due to nerves and excitement, it is always important to know that your guests are very happy with their meal.


With more than 15 years in the Australian bridal industry, Mary-Anne has the passion and dynamism that sees her as one of the leaders in the business.  Over her career, Mary-Anne has created and managed a venue decoration business and bridal expos.

Mary-Anne Lowe is currently the Managing Director of two prestigious wedding venues, Bram Leigh and Riverstone Winery Estate. Mary-Anne Lowe has a string of bridal awards from the Australian Bridal Industry Awards that consolidate her presence in the bridal industry. You can also follow on Facebook.

(All images supplied by author.)

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