Food and Drink

Let’s Do Brunch

Breakfast is the best meal of the day, and maybe even for your special day

Compiled by R. Legault

Are you a morning person? Looking for a unique wedding twist? Consider a brunch reception. Be it a sunrise ceremony, your passion for breakfast, or a way to get a jump on your honeymoon, a brunch reception can be a delicious, low-key, and inspired choice.


A brunch reception usually takes place between 11 a.m. and two p.m. If you’d like it to be more of a breakfast, nine a.m. is usually the earliest starting time to consider. Your caterer should suggest serving juices, coffee, and cocktails along with some light, fruity nibbles before moving onto the main course, to avoid overwhelming guests who may still be wiping sleep from their eyes. Then, of course, there’s coffee, dessert, and wedding cake. Brunch is best served buffet-style or as a seated meal (or a combination of the two.) The other alternative is a cocktail brunch, where guests enjoy passed delicacies hors d’oeuvres-style (think scrambled egg tartlets and mini French toast) and cocktails (such as mimosas, Bellini’s, champagne, and punch) as they stand and chat, cheer, and celebrate.


Morning naturally sets a more mellow tone. A brunch can still be festive (think brightly colored flowers and mimosas), but it’s probably not going to contain any rock star-style partying. Satisfy friends and family with a bountiful buffet and fresh juice bar. Fancy a formal atmosphere? Go for fine china, champagne, and a three-course meal. Also consider the time of year. If your big day falls during leaf-turning season, choose an ideal space where windows frame the colorful mosaic of gold and red hues. Planning a winter wedding? Consider a cozy brunch by a roaring fire. A tented springtime soiree in an English garden is a beautiful way to celebrate nature. When choosing a brunch spot, remember to see it during the time of day you are planning your reception—ask yourself, is it dark and depressing due to a lack of windows? Does the sun beat down during the day, making the temperature inside boiling? It’s important to see all of the room’s blemishes.


A brunch is one of the most cost-effective receptions you can have: Brunches aren’t necessarily less expensive. Plan on paying $20 to $85 per head, depending on the menu and the site you choose. Your liquor costs will be much lower than an evening affair (guests drink less alcohol in the morning); you won’t have to shell out money for a band (although a string quartet is always nice in the early morning hours); and oftentimes reception sites are less expensive to rent in the daytime.


Frittatas, an Italian vegetable-and-egg dish are all the rage. “The frittata feels lighter, yet substantial, without being rich. It’s full of vegetables so it appeals to the health conscious and can be prepared with delicious cheese and herbs. If you don’t want the eggs, grilled veggies are a tasty alternative for many establishments and catering companies. Smoked things are another hot item.

And we’re not just talking about salmon, but tuna bacon and salmon bacon, smoked tuna and smoked meats, and even smoked vegetables, which are great for late morning or early afternoon. Asian foods are also popular for a brunch bash, as well as dim sum. Some caterers are serving up familiar foods with a twist. Grilled chicken salad wraps, open-face sandwiches made on homemade dill sponge bread, and smoked salmon wraps instead of the traditional bagels and lox. Another hot trend is food stations, a lively (and less crowded) alternative to the standard buffet. One recent brunch reception we heard about featured an omelet station, a French toast station, and a crepe/pancake station with various toppings and syrups.


When planning the menu, be certain to have more than just a fruit salad as the only vegetarian or healthy offering. These days, with so many people watching their cholesterol and fat intake, scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage shouldn’t be the only dish on the buffet table. Consider fruit yogurt, egg-white omelets, gourmet pizza, poached salmon, vegetable tarts, grilled veggie sandwiches, and salad nicoise.

To add a little flair, think beyond the ordinary. Instead of muffins and croissants, think orange scones and walnut banana bread.

Can you serve wedding cake in the morning? Sure, why not? You may opt for a lighter cake, such as carrot, lemon, angel food cake, or cheesecake, rather than a heavy fudge-covered cake. Or cut into a Mexican wedding cake—a lighter confection made with nuts and powdered sugar. Another way to lighten up the mid-day wedding cake: Top it with fresh fruit.


Go light on the liquor—it may not even be noon! If you’d like to serve wine, consider offering it after some food has been eaten. And don’t forget morning-time cocktails like Bloody Mary’s, mimosas, and screwdrivers, mint juleps, punch, tequila sunrise (grenadine, tequila, and orange juice), Bellini’s (fresh sliced peaches or peach juice and sparkling wine or champagne) or champagne with a few raspberries dropped in. And, of course, include delicious non-alcoholic breakfast beverages such as coffee (think American, cafe au lait, espresso with lemon zest, cappuccino, Thai iced coffee), tea (think black, green, mint, spiced, chamomile, Earl Gray, English breakfast), fresh juices (watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, or a grapefruit/orange/cranberry blend), hot chocolate (Mexican, cinnamon, marshmallow-drenched), and fruit smoothies (blueberry, banana, strawberries mixed with apple juice or non-fat yogurt.) For a southern affair, think iced tea with lemon, peach tea, fresh strawberry or watermelon lemonade, and raspberry ginger ale punch.

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