Are French and Russian service
completely foreign to you? What does your caterer mean by a gratuity? Here’s a
handy translation of the terms your caterer uses so you can speak her language
Buffet. Guests help
themselves from large displays of food. Buffets are great for offering a variety
of dishes and allowing guests to pick and choose.
Cocktail Reception. This
elegant type of reception runs from 4 to 7 p.m. and features substantial hors
d’oeuvres or a light buffet.
Consumption Bar. The
bartenders keep a running tab, and you pay the final bill at the end of the
evening, based on how much your guests drank. A good idea if your guests are
Entrée. The main course of
your reception meal. Family Style. Platters of food are placed at each table and
guests pass the platters around and serve themselves.
Food Stations. The hottest
trend in reception dining. Similar to buffet service in that guests serve
themselves, but instead of one long table, food is divided into several themed
locations, such as a pasta or seafood table .
French Service. No, your
waiters will not be wearing berets when they serve your meal. Instead, expect
waiters to serve each guest individually from a tray held by another waiter.
Gratuity. In simpler terms,
the tip. Caterers usually include this 20 percent fee in their final tally.
Groom’s Cake. A Southern
tradition that’s spread nationwide, this cake, served at the rehearsal dinner
or reception, can be any color, shape or flavor (fruitcake is traditional) and
is usually decorated to reflect a hobby or interest of the groom’s. Your
superstitious unmarried friends may want to save a little cake to put under
their pillows that night in the hopes they’ll dream of their future spouses.
Mixed Drinks. Drinks that
require more than one ingredient or special mixing equipment. Providing them at
your reception could raise the bar tab.
Reception sites that have few or none of the services and supplies you need. You
will need to contract for everything from food to silverware.
On-Site Location. Reception
sites that offer nearly everything you need, from catering and bar service to
tables and linens.
Open Bar. You pay a flat
fee for your guests to drink all night.
Plated Service. The plates
are already full of food when they’re brought from the kitchen and placed in
front of your seated guests.
drinks—the ones that aren’t shaken or stirred.
Top-of-the-line liquors. You’ll pay more if you stock the bar with these
“name” brands instead of cheaper, generic house brands.
Russian Service. Similar to
French service, except the extremely coordinated waiters hold the trays of food
in one hand and serve the guests with the other.
Waiters walk among your guests with trays of hors d’oeuvres or drinks.