When trying to plan a menu for your wedding, it is really hard to please everyone AND ensure that the food creates the right atmosphere.
Cocktail food is great for creating a party atmosphere and allows people to move around and mingle. It also means you can provide lots of variety - which helps make sure that everyone gets something they like.
But SO OFTEN people complain that they don't eat enough at cocktail parties. And while moving around is great, it's not so cool if you are only moving to chase the waiters around all night!
For me, the other issue was that cocktail seemed almost too casual. I am almost shocked to say that actually, as I AM casual.. but I kept thinking, "what about during speeches? where will people sit? will they listen? will they be able to see?" and so on. I also worried it would feel too much like a party (a 30th or engagement party) because of he lack of formality.
Sit-Down dinner also has its pros and cons. On the plus side: everyone gets plenty to eat (generally at least 2 courses all of their own!), they get a seat ('yay' say the girls in high heels), and there is an air of formality (this is a special occasion after all). It also allows you to set the timing of the night.. entree, speech, main, more speeches, dance etc - and you generally have a captive audience.
On the downside - it means people are in their seats for a lot of the night (so your seating plan is very important) and it means they might not get up to mingle or dance. Then there's the food issues: alternate drop vs choice of 2 options. One table has finished eating and the other hasn't started yet.. And is the food ever that great anyway?
Which brings me to my point.
I love the concept of Shared Food at wedding receptions.
A long banquet style table laden with shared platters that guests can pass along the table and choose what they like from, like a family dinner. (***please don't mistake this with buffet - where people have to get up and go and collect their food. I'm not so keen on that. It's a little prison-dinner like in my opinion).
To me, a banquet is the perfect blend of casual and formal. It's festive and interactive. There's variety - and flexibility to eat what you want. There's still a sit-down, feel-like-you've-had-a-meal side to it.. but it is somehow more relaxed.
I am biased, because this is actually what we did.
And here is a little sample of our menu for you:
Chicken fillets - cooked on charcoal, seasoned with herbs and spices
Pork ribs - slow cooked in a smoked barbeque marinade
Mini steaks - marinated with a mixture of oregano, thyme, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Lamb cutlets- marinated in rosemary, garlic and infused olive oil
Garfish fillets – lightly floured, seasoned with sea salt and cracked pepper and lightly fried
Salt and pepper calamari - with a lemon pepper dipping sauce
Prawn shasliks - marinated and glazed with sweet chili and sea salt
Char grilled octopus - drizzled with olive oil, lemon and balsamic vinegar
Salad & Vegetables
Baby spinach and pumpkin salad - tossed with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and lightly dressed with balsamic dressing
Greek salad - with feta cheese, Kalamata olives and dressed traditionally with a Greek virgin olive oil vinaigrette
Bowl of in-season char grilled vegetables - lightly seasoned with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil
Pide Bread served with Olive Oil and Balsamic
Camembert, mature Cheddar, smoked Dutch Edam and Tasmanian blue vein with dried apricots, figs and pears, mixed roasted nuts and water crackers
Yummo!! I could eat it again right now.
NOTE: Don't be offended by my opinions or preferences. They are merely that: Opinions. And they are shaped by the general feel of my wedding too. Of course sit-down dinners will be more suited to more formal weddings.