Today's Bride

Popular Trends in Dining Styles


With all the different styles and types of receptions out there, it can be tricky to pick out the right kind of food to serve at your wedding reception. But have no fear, as we have the lowdown on some of the most popular menu style choices with advice from wedding experts.

As personalizing your wedding day to fit you and your fiance’s personalities continue as a growing trend, couples have begun to think of ways to incorporate this theme into their menu. Here are the most common options when it comes to serving your guest’s food.

Food-Trucks and Late Night Snacks

We’ve seen a growth in popularity of the food-trucks showing up outside of receptions. Food-trucks are an excellent option for newlyweds who are sure their celebration will last late into the night and want to ensure that their guests have a snack to tide them over on the ride home. Bruce Johnson of Riverfront Photography has noticed this growing trend and said it “adds a lot of fun and variety to the reception.” After all, “who doesn’t love street tacos!?”

Kelly Byers of Greystone Hall has also recognized food trucks as a growing trend. Though their venue offers a more formal meal option that couples take advantage of, they also see couples supplementing those meals with late night snacks around 8 or 9 pm. We recommend only using food trucks as an addition to your menu – not as a be all end all – as lines could get pretty long and your guests may grow impatient waiting for their food. It’s merely a great way to offer guests a satisfying treat as they depart your festivities. Lianna Fertig of EntICING says food trucks are “a trendy twist to traditional wedding catering,” and is exploring the idea of adding a food-truck catering service to her custom cake creations!

Cocktail and Hors D’oeuvres Only Reception

Dining Styles | Genevieve Nisly Photography | As Seen on

Genevieve Nisly Photography

If you want to offer your guests something filling but keep your budget low, we suggest considering an hors-d’oeuvres and cocktail hour. Usually held in the evening and slightly less formal than its sit-down counterpart, these types of receptions offer an open bar with mini food stations or roving waiters around the venue. This style gives you plenty of room to have a variety of food or drink options. Most cocktail-only receptions are shorter, so you’ll want to make sure you make it all the way around the room to mingle with all your guests.

Another twist to a cocktail style reception is a drink and dessert reception. Typically, reception of this style is held later in the evening as a way to signal to guests that they should eat dinner before attending. During this type of reception, you can serve up your favorite drink or even a signature cocktail with your wedding cake and yummy sweets.

Sit-Down Dinners

Dining Styles | Genevieve Nisly Photography | As seen on

Genevieve Nisly Photography

Sit-down dinners are the most formal type of wedding receptions, made even more official by adding multiple courses to the meal. With this option, you have a more limited selection of how much guests can have. Slightly different than sit-down service is table service, where waiters bring out plates to each guest. You can choose to offer two proteins on each plate, so your guests have an option, or you may want to give your guests a choice beforehand and have them select a specific entrée in their RSVP.

Another spin on the classic sit-down dinner is to have a family-style dinner. This is a lot less formal, yet offers a sophisticated touch in a more relaxed atmosphere. A family-style dinner is where the food is set out on each table on big platters, and you let the guests serve themselves. Even though it is more of a casual arrangement, you can serve more expensive types of food here on a smaller budget, such as serving lobster as a family style dinner rather than a lobster tail on each plate as a table service meal. However, the best type of food to use for this style is something that can be served at room temperature. You can also keep costs down with this style because you will most likely need less servers.

Buffet Dinners

Dining Styles | Genevieve Nisly Photography | As Seen on

Genevieve Nisly Photography

Buffet dinners are less formal than sit-down dinners. However, they are more formal than cocktail-only receptions. Because a buffet style offers guests more options to choose from, they work best with picky eaters and a crowd that loves to eat. It gives you plenty of food and offers something for everyone.

You can spice up a buffet style dinner and add a personal touch by having a reception with multiple stations. A station-style buffet reception is great for when you can’t decide on one type of food. This style offers a wide variety, as most receptions offer four to five different stations. You can bring out your personality or different cultural aspects of your wedding with this type of reception.


Narrowing down your food options can be hard enough, but add to that the struggle of deciding which style to serve your guests, and you’ve got a big decision on your hands. Luckily for you, our August Show is packed full of wedding experts who will be on-site to answer all of your questions and help you create the wedding of your dreams. Check out the list of exhibitors and buy your tickets now!

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