One of the key decisions you’ll need to make when planning your reception is how the meal will be served. The way you serve your food will also determine the menu and the style of seating.  One of our favorite styles of reception food service is the French Apéritif.  Below we describe just how this type of service works and the pros and cons for going with this style.

Service Style: Waiters circulate offering trays of appetizers to standing and seated guests. Supplemental items are offered on a buffet with small plates for guests to self serve.  Waiters offer each appetizer on small plates, napkins or cups. Once the service time is over, put the remaining appetizers out on the fruit and cheese buffet.

Seating Style: Your guests can’t stand up and dance all night, so you’ll give them lots of options.  High tables, round tables with chairs, long tables with benches, and lots of space for people to mingle and circulate.

Food Style: Along with a buffet of fruit, cheese, cold cuts, (charcuterie) and crackers.  You will need to serve at least 6 different appetizers for a 2-hour wedding reception, and at least 9 for a 3-4 hour event.

French weddings often start with an aperitif before the wedding and a buffet for the reception.  This way guests aren’t so hungry after the reception starts, and the buffet does not have to be as extensive.


  1. The most economical style because you have savings in seating and table settings, as well as food savings.  Even if guests RSVP, you will most likely still have some no-shows.  Think about all the extra seats and table settings going to waste for no show guests!  For this style you won’t have to have a place setting for each person so no worries about no shows!
  2. High energy!  Guests are mobile and mingling.  No one gets stuck at a table with people they don’t know or want to sit with.  There is no transition between eating and dancing.  Everyone is already moving!
  3. In this style you have more space for staging activities, making your look more interesting, and giving your guests more entertainment. Examples include: photo booth, a lounge area with a vintage couch and coffee table, “DIY” cocktail station, bride and groom wish tree, lawn games like cornhole or croquet, more space for dancing!


  1. Some limitations in food offerings.  Finger food is best – but any item can be turned into an appetizer size.  For example, fried chicken can be served in small biscuits.

***Expert tip: One of our favorite weddings of all time was in Acapulco. They had a taco bar where guests could make their own.  This would work great in the French Aperatif style.  Passed appetizers, and a taco bar buffet!