Every Wedding Reception Menu Question, Answered!

There is so much dotting the ‘I’s’ and crossing the ‘T’s’ when it comes to your special day. Having to plan the event months in advance, it’s important to tick off everything on your to-do list, especially your wedding reception menu. Boardwalk Catering has been feeding Sydney wedding receptions for over a decade now. We’ve seen it all… and so to spare you the headaches, we’ve compiled every wedding reception menu question we’ve been asked in this list.

After all…

Finding the right wedding catering service in Sydney to wait at your reception can feel like a gold mine. At Boardwalk Catering, we provide an array of dining styles to choose from spanning between buffet, canape, or plated options, depending on your taste. With our help, we can make your evening feel like a culinary experience with every bite. If you have something specific in mind, don’t hesitate to contact us wih your question.

Without further ado, here is every wedding reception menu question answered:

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7 Wedding Reception Menu Questions

#1 How do I pick a wedding reception menu?

The cornerstone of any successful wedding reception lies in a well-defined budget. With a clear understanding of your financial resources, you can begin selecting vendors and services that align perfectly with your vision. Bespoke wedding catering is often a significant investment; however, it is undeniable that the wedding meal serves as a cornerstone of the celebration. A memorable ceremony sets the tone, but an exceptional culinary experience is what’s going to truly define the wedding reception. Think of it as the delicious “icing on the wedding cake” that sweetens the memories of your special day.

Remember, your wedding reception menu is a unique expression of your love story. Let’s create a culinary experience that reflects your personalities and leaves a lasting impression on your guests! Ready to jump on a call and talk to one of our experts about our wedding reception menu needs? Call 0434 917 069 today!

#2 How do I plan a wedding reception menu?

  1. Set up your budget: Begin by determining your average expenditure per guest, factoring in the total number of attendees. This figure will serve as the foundation for exploring various wedding reception menu options within your desired budget.
  2. Choose your wedding catering style: Next, define the type of service you envision. Will you favour a delectable array of hors d’oeuvres, a classic plated dinner, or a bountiful buffet? Each wedding reception menu offers a unique experience and caters to different preferences.
  3. Embrace innovation: If culinary inspiration feels elusive, don’t hesitate to consult with your bespoke wedding caterer or event manager. They can provide invaluable insights into the latest food trends, ensuring your wedding reception menu is both delicious and cutting-edge.
  4. Identify what your wedding guests need: So your guests can have a good time, gather information about their dietary preferences. This allows the wedding caterer to craft a menu that accommodates vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or any other specific needs.
  5.  Make sure your beverages pair well with your dishes: Remember, beverages play a crucial role in complementing your culinary masterpiece. Discuss beverage options with your caterer to curate a selection that pairs well with your chosen wedding reception menu and elevates the overall sensory journey.
  6. Schedule a tasting with your potential wedding caterer: This allows you to experience the flavours and food presentation firsthand, ensuring that the menu aligns with your vision and exceeds your expectations.

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#3 Plated vs. Buffet: Which wedding reception menu is better?

The decision between a buffet or plated wedding reception menu hinges on both your personal taste and budget considerations. Buffet-style celebrations tend to be a more budget-friendly option compared to plated dinners. Plus, they foster a sense of sociability as guests mingle and curate their own plates. However, for many Sydney weddings, the formality and tradition associated with a seated dinner hold significant appeal.

Consider the overall tone you wish to set for your wedding reception. If a relaxed and celebratory atmosphere is your vision, a buffet-style wedding dinner might be the perfect choice. However, a plated meal fosters a more formal and elegant ambience. In the end, the ideal wedding reception menu style is the one that best reflects your vision.

#4 What are some Sydney-based traditional wedding reception menu ideas?

A traditional wedding reception unfolds around a meticulously designed, three- or four-ccourse plated meal. Guests gather around tastefully arranged tables, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared delight. This wedding style presents a magnificent opportunity for tablescape creativity, transforming the dining experience into a visual feast alongside the culinary one.

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The Classic Wedding Menu

Classic wedding reception menu embodies extravagance, mirroring the grandeur of the occasion. Popular main courses often feature visually stunning fine-dining staples like fillet mignon, lobster, or rack of lamb.

Sample Wedding Reception Menus for Inspiration

To ease the planning process, consider these sample wedding reception menus as a springboard for your own culinary vision:

Three-Course Elegance:

  • Starter: Smoked salmon platter with a vibrant cherry balsamic chutney, punctuated by the elegance of egg, capers, horseradish cream sauce, pickled red onion, and a selection of crackers and crostini.
  • Main: A choice between a decadent fillet mignon crowned with a wild mushroom demi-glace, or jumbo shrimp infused with garlic and herb, bathed in a flavourful sauce of fresh tomatoes, spinach, and artichoke hearts.
  • Dessert: For a sophisticated and globally-inspired conclusion, present a selection of local and international cheeses. Accompany this with a delightful array of assorted crackers, quince paste, and a medley of fresh and dried fruits. You might also offer a classic lemon meringue tartlet, boasting a crumbly shortbread crust, for those who crave a touch of sweet indulgence. A scoop of vanilla ice cream adds a refreshing element to complete this delightful dessert presentation.

The Bountiful Boardwalk Catering Buffet

For a more informal setting, consider this delectable buffet selection, featuring a curated mix of “Gold” and “Platinum” items from your wedding reception menu:

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Starters & Salads
  • NSW South Coast oysters (s) (gf): Fresh and briny, with a touch of pomegranate vinaigrette and lemon for a perfect start.
  • Roasted duck fat chat potatoes (v) (gf): Fluffy and flavourful, infused with rosemary and confit garlic.
  • Fresh fig & goats cheese salad (v) (gf): A delightful combination of textures and flavours, with radicchio, toasted walnuts, and a light lemon dressing.
  • Heirloom tomato salad (v) (gf) (vgn): A burst of summer with charred corn, smoked paprika, and a tangy lime dressing.
  • Spiced chicken thigh (gf): Tender and flavorful, with confit garlic and baby celery for an extra touch.
  • Market best prawns (gf): Succulent and perfectly cooked, served with a signature cocktail sauce and lemon.
  • Thyme & garlic free range chicken breast (gf): A classic option with a twist, featuring blackened lime and a sumac yoghurt dressing.
  • Roasted beetroot (v) (gf): Earthy and sweet, paired with goat’s cheese, toasted walnuts, and wild rocket.
  • Spiced Kent pumpkin (v) (gf): Creamy and comforting, topped with dukkha, torn mint, and a honey Greek yoghurt dressing.
  • Broccolini salad (v) (gf) (vgn): Light and refreshing, with snow peas, orange, chilli, and a toasted hazelnut dressing.
Additional Options:
  • Consider incorporating a carving station featuring a “Platinum” item like the Riverina Lamb Backstrap or the Riverina Grain Fed Beef Fillet for a touch of live culinary theatre.
Desserts (served canape style):
  • A selection of your delectable dessert canapés:
    • Boardwalk chocolate brownie (v) with salted caramel
    • Warm apple crumble tartlet (v) with oats & brown sugar
    • Chocolate & cherry tart (v) with shaved toasted coconut
    • Belgian milk chocolate ganache (v) with chocolate shortbread
    • Fruit brochette (v) (gf) with seasonal fresh fruit and smoked King Island cheddar


  • Striking a balance between simplicity and elegance is key.
  • Limiting wedding reception menu choices helps control costs associated with both service and ingredients.
  • A smaller, well-curated wedding reception menu ensures quality and a peculiar dining experience for all.

#5 How many courses should be served at a wedding reception?

While the number of courses at your wedding reception is entirely your choice, it’s crucial to factor in the flow of service and overall timeframe duration. A traditional three-course wedding meal typically takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Opting for a four-course wedding reception menu extends this window to 2 to 2.5 hours, and elaborate seven- or eight-course presentations can reach 3 to 3.5 hours.

For families with a deep appreciation for culinary artistry, savoring a luxurious seated dinner for several hours might be the ideal scenario. However, some guests may prefer a more expeditious approach, allowing them to transition quickly to dancing and socialising. For this group, a buffet-style or family-style wedding dinner can often be completed within 1.5 hours.

While traditional plated dinners are a magnificent addition to many weddings, a growing trend embraces alternative catering concepts. Contact Boardwalk Catering today and let’s explore some unconventional, real-life wedding food ideas that might spark your creativity for your own celebration. Call 0434 917 069 or email [email protected] for a free consultation!

#6 How can I accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies at my wedding reception?

To effectively manage dietary needs on RSVP cards and avoid guest dissatisfaction, proactive measures are recommended. Establishing clear guidelines prevents guests from creating their own customised menus. It is advisable to offer at least two options for each meal course, including a standard dish and a vegetarian or vegan alternative. Both options should be adaptable by chefs to accommodate dietary restrictions such as dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free.

The following wording for the wedding invitation regarding food allergies is suggested:

“Kindly inform us of any dietary restrictions or requirements you may have. We will make every effort to ensure at least one suitable and delicious menu option is available for each course.”

This approach sets clear expectations for guests while maintaining control over the wedding reception menu. Collaboration with the wedding caterer allows for the finalisation of suitable menu choices and their seamless execution on the event day.

To eliminate the need for further communication with guests regarding menu preferences, it is recommended to present the chosen options as a surprise. For guests with allergen concerns, a clear explanation of allergen handling procedures can be provided. Additionally, requesting an allergen chart from the caterer for distribution to guests on the event day is highly recommended.

Got more questions about dietary restrictions and preferences? Contact us with your question or concern and we’ll get back sooner than you think.

#7 How much should I budget for my wedding reception menu?

There are several important factors that affect the cost of your wedding dinner. A primary determinant is the number of guests attending. Due to economies of scale, larger guest lists typically translate to higher overall expenditures. Therefore, Sydney couples planning a significant number of attendees often allocate a more substantial budget towards the wedding reception menu.

Buffet-Style Wedding Reception Menu

We offer two main buffet menu options, with the price per person varying based on your selection of entrees and side dishes. Our most basic package, Buffet Menu 1, starts at $75.00 per person (plus GST) and includes four “gold items” and three “platinum items” from our menu. Upgrading to Buffet Menu 2 provides a wider selection, featuring four “gold items,” three “platinum items,” and two “dessert items” for $84.00 per person (plus GST).

To further elevate your buffet experience, we offer the option to add “diamond items” for an additional $26.00 per person (plus GST).

Important details to consider:
  • All our buffet packages include a selection of fresh sourdough bread and salted butter.
  • A minimum food spend of $1,100.00 (plus GST) applies to all orders. If this minimum is not met, you will be charged the difference.
  • Staffing is provided at a ratio of 1 chef per 40 guests. Please note that chefs and wait staff are charged separately.
  • A travel fee may apply, depending on the event location.
Optional Buffet Hire Packages:
  • Buffet Hire Package 1: $6.00 per person (plus GST) includes all plates, cutlery, and linen napkins.
  • Buffet Hire Package 2: $11.00 per person (plus GST) includes plates, cutlery, glassware for white wine, red wine, champagne, and universal glasses, linen napkins, and white tablecloths.

Plated Wedding Reception Menu

The estimated cost of food for your wedding will depend on your menu selection. Boardwalk Catering offers a 2-course plated meal option for $76.00 per person ( plus GST), which features an entrée and either a main course or dessert. A 3-course option is also available for $96.00 per person (plus GST) and includes an entrée, main course, and dessert. Both plated menu options come with a selection of fresh sourdough bread and salted butter.

Additional Considerations:
  • There is a minimum food spend requirement of $1,100.00 (plus GST) for all catering orders. If your total food cost falls below this minimum, you will be charged the difference.
  • Staffing costs are not included in the initial food price. Boardwalk Catering provides one chef per 15 guests for single-course selections or one chef per 12 guests for alternating courses. Chefs and wait staff are billed separately.
  • A travel fee may apply, depending on your event location.
  • Boardwalk Catering offers complimentary alternative service options, which eliminate additional service charges.
Plated Dinnerware

Boardwalk Catering offers two separate plated dinnerware rental packages:

  • Plated Hire Package 1: This package includes all plates, cutlery, and linen napkins for $8.00 per person (plus GST).
  • Plated Hire Package 2: This package includes all plates, cutlery, glassware (white wine, red wine, champagne, and universal glasses), linen napkins, and white tablecloths for $13.00 per person (plus GST).

The Perfect Meal Pairing For The Perfect Pair

When it comes to planning your wedding reception menu, it’s important to have the right menu style to pair the evening with.

At Boardwalk Catering, we are paving the way as one of the finest wedding catering companies Sydney has to offer. We not only provide a range of wedding reception menu styles, but also for corporate and private events. If you’re looking to have a menu that truly reflects your style, feel free to contact our team over the phone, by email or on our website to get started!

Looking To Make Your Big Day All The More Special? Get In Touch With Our Team Today. Call 0434 917 069 or email [email protected] today!

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Photo by Milad K Studio