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Cook Talk

Reception Help
Alright, so i am having a wedding reception with 150 people. Reading below it sounds like a popular number. For the menu this is what i have came up with so far.

Fried Chicken
BBQ Pulled Pork
Hamburger Buns
Chips & Dip
Taco Salad
Macaroni salad
Baked Beans
Green beans and potatoes
Corn Bread
Fruit with Dip
Chicken dumplings
Meatballs? Maybe

Do you think this is a well enough variety? Also i am using the Aluminum Chafting pans with the burners. Could you estimate how many pans i will need for these dishes?

Janessa, what time is the reception, how long will it last, and what is your appetizer plan. You need one, here is why:

A self-catered buffet is a real challenge to the organizers, and things don't always come together as smoothly as hoped. By planning and setting up an appetizer area or "nibble table" which is ready when the guests begin to arrive, the cooks and servers have time to complete the arrangement of the dinner buffet. This is especially critical if there are children among the guests, or there is a wait before dinner, as at a wedding reception.

This does not have to be complicated. Three items, plus a punch, or two if one is alcoholic, are sufficient. Typically, include a fruit tray, a cheese tray and an attractive dip or spread; or you can go with a dinner theme such as TexMex with chips, salsas, Texas caviar and guacamole; Italian with bruschetta or antipasto; maybe shrimps or other cold seafood, if budget permits.

One appetizer service area serves about 100 guests.

You will need about 3 people in the kitchen and 6-8 out front to set up, serve, and clean up the party. Some will not attend the wedding, they will be serving. Also, please read the wedding dinner article to help with your planning.

Decide on at most 2 entrees. keeping in mind that people will be dressed up, so not spilling is helpful.

Then write back.

Ellen, Thanks for getting back with me. The Reception will being at 5 pm and last till Midnight. So roughly 7 hours. I haven't gave much thought to an appetizer plan, but maybe something along the lines of a fruit tray, cheese, crackers and pickles. Chips with a dip. If i am doing a appetizer table can i minimize my buffet? I am going for a rustic theme, and my family sure can eat. So i want to make sure i'm making enough as well as having a fair enough variety. As for my bar, i really just want to do a self serve bar (only bottled beer) I have estimated about 100 adults. 35 Children. Everything is pretty much going to be self served. I don't have much money so everything is on a tight budget.
OK, let's see if I can help.

This is a very long party if the reception starts at 5, usually when it lasts till midnight a second service of light foods is done around 10-11. Have you considered ending earlier? Saves both food and drink.

For up to 150 people you can either use 2 serving lines or 1 double-sided serving line, this just depends on the space you are using.

Also, even if everything is buffet service, you will need help at least in the kitchen and outside to set up, serve, and clean up. These can't go to the wedding, they will be working, so it can't be part of the wedding party. Even on a tight budget, you will have to consider paying for some help with this. It really does take help to get the party to run smoothly.

As for the bar, your beer drinkers will drink 1 per hour unless they are heavy drinkers, in which case add another 1-2. They will drink more if there is not someone there overseeing the bar. Are there some cousins who could take that on? A full keg is 150-160 glasses; check prices. If you are watching , bottled beer is not a cheap choice. With all the kids, you might consider lemonade, iced tea, and a sangria or wine punch. People won't drink as much. If you are serving alcohol, plan to stop serving alcohol 1 hour before the end of the party and set out coffee, use the reception/dinner coffee at the beverage planning page.

For ease of pre-preparing and for having something a bit different, the chicken and dumplings would make a good main entree choice. Fried chicken for this many is hard to do, has to be done day of, and hard to keep crisp. The chicken and dumplings can be made ahead, frozen separately, and then reheated. Or consider one of my wedding chicken dishes, both of which are made ahead. If you decide on the chicken and dumplings, I will post the how to freeze when you write back.

I would pull out the fruit with dip, the chips and dips and add a cheese selection for the appetizers. If someone has time to make them, with your Southern-tending menu, deviled eggs would be a popular choice, there is an article on how to do for 100 on this site.

Instead of pulled pork sandwiches, what about a baked potato bar with some shredded pork or tiny meatballs as one of the toppings? Then you would not need a second entree. Skip the taco salad, it does not hold well; sides would be
Macaroni salad, about 5 gallons
Baked Beans, 4 gallons
Green beans and potatoes, about 30 pounds green beans

Corn Bread; muffins are easier to handle and serve. Could be placed on the tables in baskets. 2 per adult, one per kid.

Write back.

Haven't gave much thought to ending it early. We have the barn till 2-3 in the morning. I figured we would utilize it since we have it for that long, but you make a great point. It will save on money. I'll consider that one for sure.

The way the barn is set up i will probably have to go with the 1 double sided serving line.

After doing some math in my head i'm thinking the best thing is to go with the kegs. Do you think that 1/2 barrel of bud light, and 1/2 barrel of Redd's apple ale would be enough beer for my party?

I'm okay with doing chicken and dumplings for one of the main entrees. Can you please send me the how to freeze. This is great one i can do before hand.

Thanks, this is great :)

Couple questions i left out ellen

How much chicken and dumplins should i be making?

Also if i do the deviled eggs are they okay for me to make the day before?

I don't know how many beer drinkers you have, but a full keg only serves 50-60, so you probably need more; if it is the only alcohol, could be double or more.

I strongly suggest you do this with a family size portion long before the wedding and decide if you are happy with the flavor and texture.

Use a recipe that uses 1 pound whole chicken or 1/2 pound boneless chicken per 2 people. With 150 people, you are starting with 70-75 pounds whole chicken.

You are going to just cook the dumplings on the soup and then freeze separately from the soup. Flat ribbon dumplings freeze better than drop dumplings.

Cook the chicken and dumplings. Cool to room temperature in large flat pans.

Remove the dumplings from the soup using a slotted spoon or turner and place the dumplings in gallon-size freezer bags, each bag in more or less a single layer. Squeeze out as much air from inside as possible before sealing the bags. Place flat on cookie sheets and freeze.

Pour the remaining chicken soup into airtight containers or zipper bags. Remove as much air as possible if usinsing baggies and seal. If bags, freeze flat like the dumplings.

Prepoaring for eating
Thaw the dumplings and the soup overnight in the refrigerator. Sseparate the dumplings into bowls or pans. Bring the soup tto a boil- this can take up to an hour depending on the amounts and type of cooking arrangement. Carefully slide the dumplings into the soup once it has reached boiling (350 in a roaster). Allow the mixture to come back to bubbling around the edge. Reduce the heat to medium-low (180-225 in a roaster, just bubbling) and continue to simmer the soup covered for approximately 10 minutes. Hold at 180.

If you do the potato bar for your second entree, do for 100.

You can start the deviled eggs the day before, empty all the whites and refrigerate tightly wrapped in sara. Put the yolk mix in baggies. Day of, cut the bottom corner off the baggie and fill the white. Return to the refrigerator until served- don't leave them at room temp.

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