Beginner April 2014

Heavy hors d'oeuvres

Rebecca, on September 7, 2013 at 6:23 PM Posted in Planning 0 22
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Hi Ladies,

I am considering a heavy hors d'oeuvres reception with passed appetizers during the cocktail hour and then several stations that guests can keep returning to throughout the reception up until the cake cutting (at which point the stations will close, but dessert and drinks will still be available). I like that this format encourages mingling, but am concerned about it possibly seeming cheap (even though it's not) or low brow (which I hope it's not). What have been your experiences with heavy hors d'oeuvres receptions? What are the pros and cons? Thanks!


  • Eleanor
    VIP October 2014
    Eleanor ·

    You'll get mixed reviews here but I really like the idea! I wanted to do it but FH wanted a sit down meal.

  • Lori
    Master June 2015
    Lori ·

    I would just make sure that 1. You have enough food so it is as much as a full meal, and 2. You have a seat for everyone. I recently went to a wedding that did neither and it was not the best experience. Other than that, I think it is a great idea! I looked into it but it's actually more expensive than a sit down meal at my venue.

  • Abby
    VIP May 2014
    Abby ·

    I like the idea. Like Lori said, make sure you have enough food to still constitute a full meal.

  • Tiffany M. ( Tiffany P.)
    Master August 2012
    Tiffany M. ( Tiffany P.) ·

    You might also want to have your reception at a non-meal time as most people will probably be expecting a full-meal. Either go middle of the day, say after 1 pm or later in the evening, at least after 7 pm.

    Have only been to weddings with full-meals, so can't comment on that personally. The above suggestion is what other people have said.

  • STBMsMullings
    Super July 2015
    STBMsMullings ·

    I like the idea, it normally gives lots of options and honestly when I'm at an event such as a wedding I don't eat real heavy. Like a few others have stated tho, I would make sureit's enough food.

  • Mrs Drakthal
    Master September 2013
    Mrs Drakthal ·

    Ok I had thought about this and this is what the owner of our venue told us: "If you have a sit down meal you can control portions and how much most people get. You serve 1 piece of meat two sides and a salad or whatever but if you have "stations" or a buffet people will load up their plate they wont take a few morsels Uncle Joe will take fifteen appetizers when you only budgeted for six and you will have a lot more of those people. People will also take things because they "want to try it" but then wont finish it, if you are going to do food I suggest that you do sit down food. If you are going the other route against my judgement then I am going to suggest that you allow six to eight pieces per person and expect some people to be looking for more".

    After hearing this we nixed the idea of hors dovers all together.

  • Chrissy
    Expert June 2014
    Chrissy ·

    As long as there is enough food, I think it's super fun!

  • MJ
    Master June 2013
    MJ ·

    By heavy what do you mean. We always say 12-15 if your not serving a meal.

  • Donna
    Master June 2014
    Donna ·

    We have decided to have a hors d'oeuvre reception. We will have two stations, and servers with trays. The caterer will be cooking on site and he assures us that the food will last all evening. We are planning to have crab cakes, beef with a blue cheese sauce, shrimp and grits, chicken rolled around spinach, gazpacho shooters, a pasta station, and sushi station, as well as cheese, crackers, fruit, dips, etc. we will not have assigned seats, but we are having enough chairs for each of our guests. The reception will be directly after our 5:00 beach ceremony, so it will be over dinner time. We decided to do things this way for a few reasons. Most of our guests are spending a week with us at the event house so we will be having a few dinners together. We wanted the wedding to be different from the others. We also wanted people to mingle and dance, and the appetizers have always been our favorite part of wedding food. Hopefully things will turn out the way we are planning.

  • B'sWife
    VIP September 2014
    B'sWife ·

    I like passed and stationery apps more than sit down dinners. The food is always better too. I'm saying the following as a 10+ year restaurant manager: any venue is smart to steer a group away from heavy apps and in the direction of a plated dinner. The profit margin is always lower on passed/stationery apps. We bill apps two different ways - a set number of pieces, when they're gone, they're gone. Or by time; replenished through a certain time period. That's generally more expensive to the guest but preferred bc no one wants to run out of food. BUT we still have to quote a price that the guest agrees to. So we essentially guesstimate - it looks a whole lot like 2.5/3 pieces X $ ea. X per person X number of hours. If consumption is higher the venue takes the hit. If it's lower it's a boon. But you can't count on that. Plated dinners are costed out to exact percentages and priced accordingly.

  • Celia Milton
    October 2019
    Celia Milton ·

    I love it. Let people know, have it at an appropriate time, have enough food, and have seating, but not all at big tables.

  • Candy
    Expert June 2014
    Candy ·

    Love this idea! We are having a morning wedding with a brunch afterward but if we were going to do evening then we had planned for heavy hors d'oeuvres. If it's what you want, go for it!

  • Mrs. A
    VIP November 2013
    Mrs. A ·

    I love this idea...apps are so much yummier than the main course!

  • Future_Lobos
    VIP September 2013
    Future_Lobos ·

    That's what I'm doing....go for it!

  • AndreaLily
    Master October 2013
    AndreaLily ·

    I like the idea! I went to a wedding with lots and lots of appetizers and was so full for dinner! We all agreed that we could have just eaten apps and been full!

  • Linda
    Super November 2013
    Linda ·

    I like the idea also! As long as there is plenty of food. Make sure there is stations with meal like things like a carving station. My employer has a big fancy holiday party at a down town venue every December. In additional to about 10 passed apps there are probably about 8 stations.... A pasta station w two or three options, a meat carving station w two meats and side vegetables like mashed and green beans, a huge seafood spread with antipasta, a slider station w mini burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, and a sushi station. Believe it or not this is a company cut back we used to have two parties! If it is done right it wouldn't come off cheap to anyone with half a brain. I think it's fun and exciting. Even with a pasta station and a meat station i think guests will be satisified! Much more modern then traditional and we all love it every year and get to stuff our faces

  • GettingHitched
    Super November 2013
    GettingHitched ·

    we are doing a cocktail hour with 10 different passed hors d'oeuvres, open bar, and then a table with fruits, cheese, dips, bread sticks, roasted vegetables, fresh vegetables etc. a VERY NICE SPREAD. Then for the dinner portion, everyone has assigned seating but there will be a carving station with horseradish, mayo, rolls and au jus, pasta station with two kinds of pasta and two kinds of sauce, salad station with different dressings, mashed potato station with toppings, dessert station with dessert, teas and coffees and then later on will be the cake cutting. There will be PLENTY to eat. Doing it this way was actually a little more expensive, but I think sit down dinners can be boring and I liked that the station set up promotes mingling, so that's what sold us on it.

  • Private User
    VIP July 2017
    Private User ·

    I like the idea we are doing a heavy hors d'oeuvres as well

  • M
    Just Said Yes October 2013
    Molly ·

    Hor d'oeuvres are a great idea, just LET GUESTS KNOW that's what you're doing. If they know ahead of time, no one can complain.

  • T & Co
    Super March 2014
    T & Co ·

    I am doing that too and to guarantee they are full there is a chance it will cost more than a sit down dinner. But you know at some weddings even if it is a plated dinner, some folks don't like the food and then they are not even full at the end of the day. So just do what you want.

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