It depends on your ideal timeline and your priorities.

By Alyssa Brown
March 15, 2019

When you're working with your catering team to develop your wedding menu, there are a lot of questions being asked with regards to timing and options. One decision many couples struggle with is determining how many courses they should serve. When there are so many delicious choices available to you, how are you supposed to narrow it all down and decide the right number of courses for your wedding dinner? Here, we take a look at what you'll want to consider.

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It's all about the timeline.

Depending on your caterer and the style of service they plan to implement, each dinner course typically takes between 30 to 45 minutes from the time the first guest receives their plate to when the last plate being cleared. As such, the number of courses you choose will vary greatly depending on how long you'd like guests to be seated. If you were thinking an hour and a half max for dinner, two courses would be a good fit. If you're happy with guests sitting for two hours, three courses work well within that time frame.

It's also important to consider your timeline for toasts, as breaking up the courses with toasts in between can add much more time to the service schedule. Don't forget, guests do start to get antsy if they've been sitting for too long.

Take your priorities into consideration.

If you're envisioning a wedding that's all about the food and wine, it only makes sense that you'd have more courses than a wedding that has other priorities. In this case, you can go up to four or five courses, provided that you're happy to take time away from the dance floor to do so. If this is the direction you decide to go, your catering team may have creative ways of condensing the courses within the timeline you allot. This could mean they have extra staff on-hand to make the service run faster. But traditionally speaking, the more courses you have, the more time dinner takes up.

Family style can be an alternative.

If you're all about the food and wine and want your guests to be able to taste a number of dishes, but you don't want to give up time on the dance floor to bring that vision to life, family-style service can be a great alternative to serving a multi-course plated meal. If you'd like, you can serve the appetizer plated and then move on to the entrée served family style with a number of options to be passed around the table.

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