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Wedding RSVP Card - Entree Selections - list full description or just general category?

I'm creating the text for the RSVP card for my upcoming wedding.

For weddings in the past - I've always hated the generic categories: Fish, Poultry, Meat.... I find it's impossible (and slightly annoying) to select an entree because you don't know how the protein is being prepared - or what type of fish it is, etc.

So - now that it's time to create my own, I'd like to put a detailed description of the actual entree selections. But, someone advised me against it, saying that people would start making special requests omitting parts of the preparation, based on food preferences.

We are waiting on a final menu tasting to get our invites to the printer ... I'm starting to second guess my decision to be more detailed and revert back to a standard practice of just being more generic in my descriptions (to get the invites back sooner).

'hounds, help me out - what are your thoughts on the subject?

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  1. How about a middle road?

    I would go beyond just the generic "Fish, Beef or Vegetable" descrption.

    But I wouldn't go into excruciating detail (like some restaurant menus) by listing every single possible ingredient like "Slow Roasted Luch Duart Atlantic Salmon under Sun-dried Tomato-Yogurt Glaze with Chick Pea Fritter and Cora Cora Orange Reduction , Fiddlehead Ferns and Espelette Pepper Broth"

    Instead, try a middle road, like "Beef Tenderloins with Roasted Yukon Potatoes and Burgundy Mustard sauce"

    This way, if your guest prefers a meat or beef selection, she's not left wondering (1) what type of meat, (2) how it's prepared and (3) what accoutrements are provided.

    And for what it's worth, I would not accomodate "food preferences" -- only "food allergies". And even if you were to go generic in your descriptions you would still have to accomodate the latter.

    Good luck.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      +1. If I was responding I would appreciate the information.

      1. re: runwestierun

        +2. The whole involved thing wouldn't be needed, but a basic information single line certainly works.

        And agree on the changes for "food allergies" only. (Would someone really have the gall to ask for change in a wedding menu just for themselves just because of preference? Oh wait - people don't even RSVP...of course they'd do that! LOL)

      2. re: ipsedixit

        Or simply "Beef Tenderloin," "Salmon," etc.

        Our daughter and SIL did a combo of a small piece of halibut with a lemon beurre blanc sauce and beef tenderloin with a cognac something sauce. Each sauce came in its own little pitcher. Prior to serving, the servers asked if anyone had asked for the vegetarian option and that was then served when the other meals were. I thought it was tremendous.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          How about airplane version: chicken or beef?

        2. I think ipsedixit is right on. Middle ground b/w the two options. I'm not convinced that people would try to make special requests even if you did list the entire menu in detail, but giving them just enough to make an informed decision (as ipsedixit suggests) is all you really need to do to accomplish what you want.

          For my wedding, we did something similar to what ipsedixit suggests, and not one person (of 100 guests) made a special request.

          1. congratulations!

            Why don't you post what you are thinking of printing on the card? I agree that you really do not want to go into a great deal of detail.

            For instance:

            Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Chanterelles


            Farm fresh chicken breast wrapped with caul fat and pan roasted served with roasted turnips and candy cane beets in a saffron nage dusted with freshly ground cumin and rubbed sage.

            1. of course!!! A middle road!! Make SO much sense and should work out just fine. I'll list the general dish and accompanying sauce. Love it!

              We are making the final menu selections this weekend - so it's even better that I have this mindset going into that appointment (so I can get all the specifics I need).

              Thank you for all the advice. Wedding planning has fried my brain ;)

              1. wow I have never heard of this nor seen an RSVP card with the menu. Why even give a choice (just asking)? Choose what you like for your wedding and maybe a box for vegetarian option on the RSVP card.

                I would find it odd to choose my meal 6 weeks in advance when going to a function. I do understand if there are say 120 guests you would not expect the caterer to make 120 meals of each chicken fish or meat but I would not expect to be picky as a wedding guest and eat what's given or pick round what there is.

                I am not criticizing just stating that I have never seen it and would not expect a choice.

                6 Replies
                1. re: smartie

                  It's actually quite common.

                  You won't get a full blown menu, per se, but typically the RSVP will include a choice of options beyond just an auxiliary choice for non-meat eaters.

                  1. re: smartie

                    Choices are pretty common from what I've seen. I've been to some that are red meat only and was rather frustrated that I didn't know in advance so I could load up on the appetizers.

                    1. re: smartie

                      I've almost always gotten a meal choice, unless it's a buffet. And when I have, it's always been the middle-ground that ipse and kater suggested.

                      1. re: smartie

                        I think people want to give their guests the choice in case there are food restrictions based on allergies or religious reasons. I have Jewish friends who won't eat pork and I have Indian friends who won't eat beef. If the meat touches some other food on the plate that food also can't be eaten. However, both groups will eat chicken. Obviously Oracle wants to make sure none of the guests end up with a meal they can't eat.

                        1. re: smartie

                          It is standard in my area. The difficulty is that many people seem to forget what they ordered and others change their minds if the other dishes look better when they are served. Of course, if the choice is based on allergy rather than preference then the responder does remember.

                          Finally, IMO, fish does not do well at a large affair, although salmon holds up fairly well. Meat is the safest bet and chicken tends to be too dry.

                          This is only partially "tongue in cheek" as I like to stay true to my screen name.

                          Besides, who attends a wedding for the food?

                          1. re: smartie

                            Many years ago, I resisted this then-beginning trend and chose one entree because I can and do find this wedding RSVP menu selection strange and tacky. IMO, if your caterer can't accommodate a choice, don't offer one, or else plan a buffet. I did add a note that we would try to accommodate food restrictions or allergies if the guest contacted us at least a week in advance to make special arrangements. Out of 100 guests, only one of my DH's aunts came back with an "I must eat baked fish" response. No one else did. BTW, said aunt passed away shortly of a heart attack, so she probably was really trying to adjust her diet. She was not just being picky.

                            Yes, I know giving a choice is just being pragmatic, and to some degree, I understand it. There is less waste, and you can accommodate a range of preferences. However, I have learned never to discuss nor plan menu options with my party guests, regardless of the type of party, unless there is a special situation to accommodate (Kosher, medical, vegan, etc.). As the host, it is up to me, and I have found that most of the "allergies" turn out to be the result of food preferences or picky eating habits, and rarely include people with real food restriction issues. I give you credit for trying so hard to please your guests. I wouldn't do it.

                          2. I'd definitely appreciate a middle of the road explanation similar to what ipsedixit suggested. At least with the dish's name, guests can roughly approximate what goes into the dish.

                            I remember one wedding RSVP card that had the generic beef, chicken, vegetarian option. Since I rarely eat beef I selected chicken. Being lactose intolerant, I would have appreciated knowing that the chicken had inordinate amounts of cream in it and the vegetarian option had coconut in it (which I can't digest either). I ended up filling up on bread.

                            1. Ok 'hounds:
                              Menu decided on... here's what I have so far as middle of the road descriptions:
                              1. Panko Breaded Chicken Breast in a Fig and Red Wine Reduction
                              2. Roasted Sea Bass served with a Banana Butter Sauce
                              3. Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Garlic and Fresh Herbs Incased in a Puffed Pastry

                              Is that too wordy? Does that give you enough?

                              If it needs more - here are more details:
                              #1 is also sprinkled with gorgonzola and feta and topped with a strip of caramelized pancetta
                              #2 is also served with sweet potato sticks
                              #3 is also served with the fig and red wine reduction


                              19 Replies
                              1. re: The Oracle

                                I think what you wrote first is just right. I wouldn't give "the rest of the story." And when should we all expect our invitations? That sounds like the best wedding food I've ever heard of. Congratulations on some fine choices.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Thanks, c oliver. That means A LOT to me, coming from you!!

                                  I am actually dreading offering the stereotypical 'wedding chicken" - but this chicken is seriously OFF THE HOOK amazing... and the sauce I could eat all day. :)

                                  1. re: The Oracle

                                    Well, since you're NOT offering any stereotypes YOU'RE off the hook also :) I mean really, if I read those dishes on the menu of any high end restaurant, I'd be hardpressed to choose. I think you need to tell the caterer that you'll only use her/him if he/she shares the recipes with you and then you MUST share them here on CH. I'm not blowing smoke at you. Promise.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      c oliver - you are seriously making my day! :) I already started the interrogation to the secrets behind the sauce. It's unreal. I think it's because they start with fresh figs. If I find out, I'll definitely let you know! :) And - how cool is this - the chicken dish is a new creation and they ended up naming it after me (since I was the first bride to try it)... That CERTAINLY means I should have SOME rights to learning how to prepare dish, don't you think?! ;)

                                      1. re: The Oracle

                                        "The Oracle Panko-Crusted Chicken" - that has quite a ring to it! :-)

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          @LindaWhit - you did NOT just do that!!! Panko-crusted sounds SO much better than Panko-breaded. Yep, ipsedixit was right - I could edit this til the cows come home (and THEN some!!)

                                          1. re: The Oracle

                                            ROFL!!! OMG, I didn't even realize I had done that! I'm just so used to calling it "panko-crusted" I guess!

                                            Sorry - I really really really really really REALLY didn't mean to add more stress to your wedding. You're going to be beautiful, your wedding is going to be magical, and the FOOD is going to be just freakin' OUTSTANDING!

                                            And you're going to have FUN and not stress, you hear me? :-)

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              :) :) :) Thank you so much! I'm taking off the 'perfectionist' hat and putting on the party hat! I'm SO ready to be done with all these details and get on with the celebration!!

                                2. re: The Oracle

                                  I would change 1 to include the cheese/pancetta just in case people cannot have those items. I don't automatically think "cheese" when I see red wine reduction.

                                  1. re: queencru

                                    Good point, queencru. Maybe just add "with cheese and pancetta."

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Ah - thanks for the suggestions. The nice thing with the cheese and especially the pancetta - is it's very easy to remove. The pancetta is all in one piece and the cheese is dotted on top (not melted, per se).

                                    2. re: queencru

                                      I would second that, particularly since even though you can likely remove the pancetta and cheese, that probably wouldn't satisfy somebody who has religious objections to pork or who keeps kosher.

                                      1. re: queencru

                                        Yes. The cheese and pork (pancetta) must be mentioned. *Do* say "gorgonzola" merely because some people are really put off by "mold" in their cheese (we love it!).

                                        Else I'm with the venerable c oliver on the first part -- but not the details. Sure, it's conventional these days to offer guests a choice (how many of us remember the days when weddings were roast beef -- or a tossed salad!)

                                        As an aside, the combination of the figs and the red wine reduction are actually very Italian in inspiration. A fig conserve is quite common on chicken, roast pork and even veal, in some regional cuisines. One of the finest venison dishes I've ever had was at a little Italianesque joint in New York's West Village -- and it included a sauce that was made with fresh figs. We commented on it, and the chef came out and thanked us and told us to appreciate it now because he'd never go to the trouble again. Apparently fresh figs, after pureeing and cooking, turn an awful black color that's completely a turn-off. Apparently no matter how much acid (lemon juice, wine, vinegar) one uses in the sauce it's no good for keeping even more than a few hours.

                                        You're going to have a fabulous wedding! Don't sweat the details and let the caterer deal with the RSVP cards that come back marked up with "I can't have (x) and I'd like no mushrooms with my dinner." They're idiots. As someone up-thread said, you don't go to the wedding for the food. But heck, it's nice, especially with as much consideration as you're giving this special, appealing menu.

                                        1. re: shaogo

                                          I agree with the comments re: pancetta and gorgonzola. One last nitpick is that the vegetarian item should read "encased," rather than "incased," and the term is generally spelled "puff pastry" rather than "puffed pastry," though on the second point, there are some who use the latter.

                                      2. re: The Oracle

                                        I think you nailed it.

                                        You can probably tweak it till the cows come home, but at some point you have to realize that striving for perfection in an endeavor like this is like that traveler whose destination is the horizon.

                                        Good luck.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          ipsedixit - thank you for the input! And, I need that saying printed on a t-shirt as a sanity reminder during these final weeks of planning!

                                          1. re: The Oracle

                                            i'm wondering if being too specific is bad, only because by the time the wedding comes around, some of the ingredients to those dishes may not be available or are out of season. since these things are planned so far in advance, you can never tell what might happen. keeping in touch with the caterer as things get closer might be good but i'd hate to have my heart set on the sea bass only to find out that they ended up with a bernaise because they couldn't do the originally promised dish. does this make sense or am i off base?

                                          2. How thoughtful of you. I'm going to a wedding next month where the choices on the invitation were pork or salmon. I eat and enjoy both and would have loved to know the sides/prep to help with the decision. Like if there were bananas anywhere near the fish that would be an 'avoid' for sure ; )

                                            Congratulations on the big day!

                                            1. Drumroll, please: Here's the final version, in case anyone was curious.

                                              Thanks to all for your suggestions and well-wishes. You have been invaluable (and I just may be coming back to you, when it's time to create the actual menu wording). :)

                                              Poultry: Panko-breaded chicken breast topped with pancetta and gorgonzola, served with a fig-red wine reduction

                                              Seafood: Roasted sea bass served with a banana-butter sauce

                                              Vegetarian: Portobello Mushroom Wellington: Mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic and fresh herbs wrapped in puff pastry

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: The Oracle

                                                What? No Beef? Just kidding ;-) Looks great! Wish I could taste that menu! Congratulations and I'm sure you will have a lovely wedding. Just relax and enjoy it.

                                                1. re: The Oracle

                                                  It looks absolutely delicious - your guests are going to have a wonderful time at your wedding!

                                                  1. re: The Oracle

                                                    I am not vegetarian. I love meat. But, that Portobello Mushroom Wellington sounds awesome! I'll have that. :-)

                                                    1. re: LJBTampa

                                                      I had the same thought. Major carnivore but that tickled my taste buds too.