From beautiful brunches to decadent desserts, there are different types of receptions for every style and budget.
A Wedding Brunch. If you can’t get enough of a beautiful day, a brunch reception may be the perfect choice. Morning receptions usually begin after 11 am, closely following a morning ceremony.
Since guests are less likely to expect wine and spirits in the morning, couples can offer less or no alcohol choices without anyone really noticing. If you want to provide alcohol, you can always keep it simple by serving champagne and mimosas. Just be sure to serve a variety of fresh juices, sparkling waters, soft drinks, and of course, coffee and tea.
With costs generally falling somewhere between $20 to $40 a person, brunches offer brides and grooms a way to host a full meal on what might otherwise be a limited budget.
A Luncheon Reception. Dreaming of a sunlight-filled wedding day? A wedding luncheon may be right for you. Luncheon receptions usually commence between 12 pm and 2 pm, and like all hosted meals, can either be buffet-style or seated events.
As with brunch receptions, guests don’t necessarily expect alcohol to play a major role in the celebration. A soft bar that offers wine and champagne, as well as non-alcoholic selections is an elegant choice, though you may choose to offer beer, hard liquors, and mixers.
A luncheon reception is generally less costly than a dinner reception and presents a great choice for couples with mid-sized budgets, falling somewhere in the range of $30 to $60 per guest.
An Afternoon Tea. Following an afternoon ceremony, a tea wedding reception usually begins no later than 3:30 pm and ends in the early evening, giving guests ample time to rouse their appetites for dinner.
Traditional menus include classic tea sandwiches with a variety of delectable fillings, bakery-fresh scones with preserves and clotted cream, fresh fruit, pastries, assorted hors d’oeuvres, and, of course, wedding cake. In addition to an assortment of fine loose teas and coffee, couples may choose to offer their guests wine and champagne.
Depending on the menu and whether or not alcohol is served, tea receptions usually cost anywhere from $15 to $40 a guest.
Champagne and Cake/Dessert Reception. Thoughtfully timed between meals, champagne and cake and dessert receptions presume that guests will not come—or leave—hungry. For that reason, these celebrations generally take place immediately after a late afternoon or late evening ceremony and are almost always served buffet style.
One of the most economical of wedding receptions, the champagne and cake reception is exactly what it sounds like. The main culinary attraction is the wedding cake, which can be accompanied by fresh fruits and assorted pastries. Beverages are usually limited to champagne (for toasting), soft drinks, sparkling waters, coffee and tea. The cost for this type of reception generally falls between $8 and $20 per guest, depending on the intricacy of your wedding cake and your selection of champagne.
At a dessert reception, offerings tend to be slightly more expanded. Traditionally, couples serve wedding cake, as well as an array of petit fours, cakes, tarts, pastries and other delicacies. Additionally, brides and grooms may offer their guests cordials and other spirits, as well as champagne, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks.
Dessert receptions are typically buffet-style events that cost between $15 and $35 per guest.
A Cocktail Reception. A cocktail event can begin as early as 4pm, but no later than 6 pm. Hors d’oeuvres are passed by tray, served buffet-style or some combination of both. Typically, the event wraps up around 7:30, when most guests begin to think about dinner.
Couples may offer a traditional bar, with an assortment of hard liquor, mixers, wine, champagne and soft drinks, serve a signature cocktail—like a mint julep or cosmopolitan—or choose a favorite drink like a martini or margarita, and give guests their choice of sweet or savory variations.
The cost of a cocktail reception depends primarily on selection of liquors offered, but generally falls between $20 to $40 a person.
A Wedding Dinner. Usually beginning after 6pm, the dinner reception is perhaps the most classic of reception events, and is certainly the most expensive.
Most dinner receptions begin with a cocktail hour, where everything from beer and wine to a full bar is served along with a selection of hors d’oeuvres.
Traditional dinner menus are usually three course affairs, beginning with a choice of soup or salad, followed by an entrée and side dish or two, and finishing with the dessert course—usually the wedding cake and other small sweets.
Trendy dinner menus include a variety of ethnic-inspired food stations, like a Pacific Rim station; a Middle Eastern station; or a French crepe bar.
Dinner receptions generally start at a minimum of $40 per guest and go upwards from there, depending on the number or courses served.