Wedding Dinner Bells, Tricks For a Successful Reception

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

"I love a long wait for refreshments!" said no one ever. Photo Credit : By Cherry Photography & James & Jess

Pure Joy tricks to making dinner service smooth, delicious, memorable and fast so guests can get onto the party activities.


After thousands of wedding you learn some tricks of the trade that have become standard procedure at Pure Joy events and really ensure a seamless evening for our brides & grooms. Service starts right when guests arrive, often from a long drive or a hectic dolling up at a local hotel. We want their first impression to be refreshing & welcoming so one of the most popular items we offer for weddings is a Welcome Beverage Station. We have a variety of fresh, colorful and delicious beverages we display in big icy jars right when guests arrive for ceremony. The Farmer’s Market Berry Spritzer, the Honeydew Basil or Watermelon Grapefruit Agua Frescas are some popular ones.


The next opportunity for genuinely meeting your service needs is directly following the ceremony – whether it’s there at the reception venue or whether the guests are arriving from another venue en mass; our philosophy is “instant gratification”. I’m always baffled when attending a hotel or country club wedding that all 100 guests are expected to go wait in line at a bar to start cocktail hour! Choosing a Specialty Cocktail or two is one way to speed up service & convey your style as a couple with something fresh and fun. At Pure Joy we have proven simple standard procedures to see that everyone gets a cocktail within 5 minutes. After that passed appetizers begin circulating & keep coming for the whole cocktail hour.


Next is dinner and there’s many ways you can choose to razzle dazzle your hungry guests. We like to start with a preset Amuse Bouche, a plated salad or what we call Tuscan Table Décor which is beribboned bundles of fresh fragrant herbs, marinated olives, hearth baked breads, Pure Joy Roasted Garlic Dipping Oil and little terra cotta pots of pretty bread sticks.


Dinner service can be seated & served with a plated preselected choice of entrees – where guests are choosing their dinner selection via invitation and the bride is tracking what the guests want & where they’re seated or plated duet – this is the most popular plated option, where everyone gets a smaller portion of both entrees and all the bride has preselect is how many vegetarians there are. I started this years ago as a far more easy way for the guests to be happy & the bride to have an easier time of it, after watching couples share their different choices anyway or forget what they ordered so long ago when they responded to the wedding invitation.


Another popular option is Family Style, this is where first course & breads go out first then the remainder of the menu is served to each table on platters and passed around. With any of these choices first course can be individually plated or served Family Style.


Plate out with Pure Joy will never take more than 20 minutes regardless of guest count as the staff is matched to the needs of each event. This is impressive for off premise catering and is rarely achieved even in a restaurant or hotel.


If you have a lot of children attending do consider having a special meal plated for them or a whimsical children’s buffet.


If you’d rather have the guests up & more participatory with a little more sizzle, buffets or stations are great ways to go. We also have wonderful systems to keep this type of reception moving smoothly, quickly & avoiding lines.


Off premise large special event catering can be a fine art and Pure Joy has spent many years with an excellent staff honing this skill to perfection. This is all we do – cooking & catering out in the field for large groups often out of a tent or garage, so we have it down to a science.


Executive Chef & PJC Owner, Lynette La Mere



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111 E Haley St, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101

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