How to Prepare Food for a Wedding Buffet

Written by matthew caines
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How to Prepare Food for a Wedding Buffet
Always round up in food quantities, since too much is better than too little. (buffet image by Yvonne Bogdanski from

Despite it being one of the most joyful days of your life, there's no doubt that planning and arranging your wedding is a stressful, demanding and taxing task. There may be hundreds of things to do, but if you can plan ahead and get some of the more straightforward tasks out of the way, your wedding day will be a huge success. The reception food is something you can plan well in advance and -- if prepared properly -- it can be a highlight of the day for you and your guests.

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    Choose the type of buffet you're preparing for and decide on the individual items for the reception food. Buffets vary significantly in their menu and size -- for example, consider having a finger buffet where the guests eat with their hands or a fork buffet where guests sit down to eat with cutlery. Think also about the type of food -- choose from a traditional barbecue food buffet or match the food to your ethnic background (e.g., Jamaican or Indian).

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    Prepare your reception food by measuring the quantities for each dish. There might be nothing worse than having too little food, but having too much can also be a problem. Combat this by sensibly measuring the portions of your dishes and by remembering that people will only have a little of everything: usually just a tablespoon for each dish.

    A good rule of thumb is to serve between four and six ounces of meat and between 10 and 12 appetizers per person. A head of lettuce will serve roughly five portions of salad and a pound of pasta will serve between eight and 10 people.

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    Cook dishes in advance and fresh-freeze them until the wedding day. Avoid last-minute food emergencies and crisis phone calls by preparing food as early as possible: desserts, bread-based items, pizzas, canapés, rice dishes and pastas can all be frozen in advance. Rent freezer locker space if you don't have enough room to store all the dishes yourself.

    Importantly, follow the proper defrosting guidelines for all your frozen foods; use a refrigerator for the slowest and safest defrosting.

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    Prepare the food with allergy sufferers in mind. One essential thing to consider is to avoid using ingredients such as vegetable oil, as it may contain peanut oil. You should also avoid handling food containing known allergens and always wash your hands between preparing the different dishes. Additionally, read the packaging on any ingredients you use; if the box reads "may contain nuts" or "not suitable for nut allergy sufferers," then don't use it.

Tips and warnings

  • Invest in the correct serving plates and dishes. Cold food should be prepared on silver dishes or china plates and can be as decorative or colourful as you like. Hot and slow-roasted items might need to be served in a clay pot or covered serving tray.
  • Employ a caterer if you're not preparing the food personally. Although a caterer can be expensive, using one will take a lot of pressure off you. Just be sure you're working closely with the caterer to ensure your wishes are followed.
  • Enlist the help of your friends and family. Wedding preparation is extremely stressful and those closest to you will probably expect that you ask for their help.
  • Offer variety instead of quantity by not making extra amounts of everything when scaling up. Remember that different people will choose different types of food.

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