Despite the rising popularity of buffets and family-style meals, many brides and grooms opt for traditional seated dinners at their reception. In most cases, the RSVP card will list two or three entrée choices (like steak, chicken, fish, or pasta), and guests will select their preferred meal. The caterer will then prepare the appropriate food and deliver it to each guest individually, often with other courses like an appetizer, soup or salad, and dessert. Plated dinners have remained popular because they're more time-effective than buffets, and they also waste less food. But couples with smaller guest lists, as well as those on a tight budget, may wonder if having entrée choices is really necessary, or if they can serve the same meal to all guests.
As it turns out, having at least two entrée choices isn't only polite, but it's also necessary in some instances. Suppose that you choose one set meal, such as grilled salmon with roasted potatoes and bread, for every guest. The dinner may seem like a harmless and well-liked choice at first glance, but those with food allergies or restrictive diets may not be able to eat some or all of these foods. While you can certainly ask guests to specify any food allergies or restrictions on their response card, offering options is the easiest way to ensure everyone has something they can eat at the reception.
You should also account for preferences. No matter how crowd-pleasing the menu is, it's nearly impossible to select one entrée that satisfies everyone's specific tastes; while you may love grilled salmon, your cousin may not be able to stomach it. The best solution for everyone involved is to offer at least two options—one with meat and one that's vegetarian/vegan—to compensate for specific dietary needs.
Those with small guest lists or tight budgets may find it unnecessary to offer multiple meal choices. If you're insistent on having just one entrée, try making it vegetarian or a duet of two options. Fresh pasta, mushroom risotto, hearty salads, and personal pizzas are good vegetarian choices. If you're going for a duet, or combination meal, pair a vegetarian dish with one your carnivorous guests will love. You could do something like your roasted chicken with mushroom ravioli, grilled shrimp with filet mignon, or ratatouille with salmon.
If you know that few (if any!) of your guests have food allergies and most eat everything, you're probably safe with a single entrée, but do talk to your caterer about a silent meal choice. Anyone who can't eat what's on offer will have another option, but guests won't be able to request it on their own. Win win!