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Ask Rashana: Anything But Run-Of-The-Mill

(photo courtesy of The Marconi Automotive Museum)

Dear Rashana,
I'm very interested in giving my wedding guests a "different experience." I've been to about 15 weddings in my lifetime and not-surprisingly they were all very, very similar. I want my wedding to be unique and provide our family and friends with something they're not used to. While I'm not a fan of making big changes to our religious ceremony, I am interested in exploring unique options for the reception. What reception formats could you suggest?

Anything But Run-Of-The-Mill

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Dear Anything But Run-Of-The-Mill,
I'm so glad you asked this question. I think the idea of selecting a less-than-traditional reception format is a magnificient idea. As long as you're sure to include the best man's toast and wedding cake, it's up to you.  Now, the time and formality of your wedding is key to selecting the appropriate reception format.  If your reception starts at 6, it's quite likely your guests will expect to be ushered into a grand ballroom of 15-20 tables for a 3-5 course meal.  Still, there are options to consider if you're interested in throwing them a curve ball and ensure they're pleasantly surprised:

MORNING WEDDING (at or before noon) - a great way to save money and provide guests with an experience they're probably not used to.  This will also allow them to make plans for later in the evening if they like.
(photo courtesy of The Comfort Hotel Esplanaden)
  • Seated Breakfast: serve a variety of breakfast foods and confections...perhaps even heart-shaped pancakes, quiche, mini-eggs benedict and signature mimosas!
  • Seated Brunch: serve light lunch foods in conjunction with breakfast favorites...multi-flavored crepes and frittata would be perfect inclusions.
  • Buffet Brunch/Lunch:  allow guests to serve themselves via omelet, waffle, crepe and carving stations.  For a WOW factor, layer in a smoked salmon and/or caviar station. And remember to include specialty coffees!
AFTERNOON WEDDING - your options at this time of day can range from a relaxed gathering featuring tea and hors d'oeuvres to a formal sit-down.
(photo courtesy of A Practical Wedding Blog)
  • Afternoon Tea: served after a midday ceremony, you could offer a beautiful buffet of finger sandwiches, petit fours and champagne or an English high tea complete with cold meats, fish and cakes served as a light supper on fine china.  For a nice twist, consider also serving Long Island Iced Teas along with the other traditional teas.
  • Picnic Reception:  if you're having an outdoor wedding, consider packaging individual meals in disposable cardboard picnic boxes (personalized, of course).  Spread out blankets and set up a beverage buffet featuring blueberry lemonade, raspberry iced tea, etc.
  • Champagne & Cake Reception: lots of mingling, lots of toasts, big savings.  Just remember to include "champagne and cake to follow" on your invitation so guests will not expect a meal.
EVENING WEDDING (at or after six) - the most common and also considered the most formal.
(photo courtesy of Elegant Affairs Catering)
  • Cocktail Reception: this happens to be one of my personal favorites because it's stylish and posh!  You could offer your guests of a plethora of hors d'oeuvres either passed or placed on display.  My recommendation here would be to include mini-meals, such as short ribs with polenta and aspargus spears, mini burgers with milkshake shots (pictured above), or sirloin atop a bed of mashed potatoes and crispy onions.
  • The After Party: after the formal reception, allow your guests to really let their hair down by creating a lounge atmosphere featuring chic furniture, fantastic lighting and an hour or two of dancing followed by "midnight snacks" which could be mini ice-cream cones, fresh berry martinis or even early breakfast sandwiches!
  • Desserts Reception:  you'll want to make sure this starts after eight in the evening and treat everyone to a wealth of sweets, in addition to wedding cake.  Here also throw in a specialty coffee and/or brandy/port/whiskey station.
Best of luck to you!

Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY


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