Wedding reception dinner

A wedding reception dinner: how does it usually unfold in Italy? what is the order of events? which type of food is served? how long does it last? These are the main questions couples planning their destination wedding in Rome ask me, as their aim is to have a traditional Italian wedding reception, possibly in a typical Italian wedding venue.

Here’s the second of a series of blogs on the traditional Italian wedding reception which is made of three different events: the wedding reception cocktail hour, the wedding dinner, the open bar.

Wedding reception dinner: set-up

The wedding reception dinner follows the wedding cocktail hour and is the main part of a wedding reception in Italy. It usually lasts from a minimum of 1.5 hours up to two hours or a bit more. As Rome enjoys such warm weather, the wedding reception dinner often takes place outdoor, but a beautiful room is also a good idea, especially in October or April/early May, when it gets slightly chillier in the evening and sitting outside for a long time may not be that pleasant.

Regarding tables at the wedding reception dinner, the wedding couple could have a sweetheart table just for the two of them or be seated at a long, rectangular top table with close family members and the best man and maid of honour. For the wedding guests, the choice is mainly between the more classic round tables, which make it easier for guests to chat, with 8-10 guests, up to a maximum of 12 per table; or the more modern long tables which are beautiful, but only allow each guest to talk to the persons on their sides.

Flower arrangements and candles are absolutely fundamental for this part of the wedding reception as guests will have all the time to look at the décor while seated at their table for more than one hour, so make sure you have enough wedding budget for making the wedding reception dinner centrepieces unforgettable.

Wedding reception dinner: food and drinks

A typical Italian wedding reception dinner usually consists of three courses: an appetiser or pasta dish, followed by another pasta dish of a different kind you might have chosen as the first course, and the main course which is either meat or fish with side dishes.

There are so many types of pasta you can choose from. You can serve filled pasta, such as ravioli, or the more classic dried pasta everyone knows, such as penne (“cavatelli” might be a lovely choice, among my favourite), or you can have “gnocchi”, that is small potato dumplings, or “risotto”, which is rice combined with different ingredients and creamed with butter, so for example you can have risotto with porcini mushrooms or with champagne and shrimps.

For the main course at the wedding reception dinner, meat is usually served. You can have beef or pork, sometimes veal; we don’t usually serve chicken. As fish, you’ll often find seabass or turbot in a typical Italian wedding dinner.

Vegetarian and vegan options are always available, and the best wedding reception venues will also be able to cater for guests who have special requests or allergies, as well as children who usually have a special menu made of pasta with tomato sauce and fried chicken cutlet with French fries, followed by ice-cream.

The wedding couple will choose the wedding menu for everyone in advance, indicating, if necessary, the guests with special requests, so that their menu could be personalised.

You will never find bread and butter on a typical Italian wedding reception dinner table, but you’ll find the bread on its saucer next to your plate, and often different types of bread, for example with nuts, or olives.  

As for drinks, only wine is included in the menu package at the wedding reception dinner. The wedding couple will choose a white and a red to be served throughout the dinner, rosé wine being less popular.

Wedding reception dinner: music

During the wedding reception dinner, music is usually listened to in the background and provided by a DJ, as guests use this part of the event to eat and chat. But you can also decide to have a band playing throughout the wedding dinner, and even dance to some songs in between one course and another. The important thing is to have a detailed programme prepared by your wedding planner, hopefully Dolce Vita Weddings, and inform the chef, so that courses can be served at the right time and not during dances, risking to end up cold or overcooked. We Italians are very fussy about our food served the perfect way!

The wedding reception dinner is a fundamental part of the whole wedding reception and one of the main reasons why couples all over the world decide to have their destination wedding in Italy, so make sure you pick the right courses for your wedding menu. Being from Rome and having attended wedding reception dinners for more than 15 years, I will surely be able to give you tips and describe the various ingredients and dishes, so as to help you create the perfect wedding dinner, even if you are not able to come over for the menu tasting some time before the wedding.

Stay tuned to know more about the typical Italian wedding reception and to have tips and ideas for your wedding reception dinner in my next blogs!