Do-it-yourself wedding buffets (1921)

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Wedding breakfasts & buffet refreshments

Entrees, beverages, salads, ices and cakes suitable for noon or evening weddings

by Virginia Carter Lee

Half the fun of planning for a wedding is the arranging for the wedding refreshments, and whether they consist of the simple buffet variety or the more elaborate “sit down” wedding breakfast or wedding reception for a large number of guests, home-planned menus and homemade dishes cannot be improved upon even by the most skilled caterer.

Unfortunately, many housekeepers who are very fine cooks feel that when they cater for more than a dozen guests they are getting “beyond their depth” and are quite at a loss as to the quantities of food to be provided as well as the price a cover that certain menus will cost.

Of course, as in catering for the daily menus, it will cost less per capita (for the same class of menu) when a large number of guests are served than if the covers are less in number; and it must also be remembered that when the menu consists of several courses, as in the wedding breakfast or for the wedding reception, only small portions are served and not in the same proportion as though the refreshments consisted only of salad, sandwiches and a frozen dainty, as for the simple buffet refreshments.

The service

When the guests are to be seated at small tables, each should be decorated with a small bouquet of the bridal flower, and a special table for the bridal party is generally rendered very festive with special souvenirs, white floral decorations and the ornamental bride’s cake.

When the wedding guests are few in number, whatever the nature of the refreshments, an ornamental wedding cake is generally cut by the bride and served to the guests informally; otherwise small fancy cakes are served with the frozen dainty and the wedding cake in small boxes for the guests to take home with them.

The bride’s cake may contain (when there are bridesmaids) a small thimble (spinster), ring (bride) and a dime (wealth), which are supposed to foretell the future state of the recipients. Both the wedding breakfast (which generally follows a noon wedding) and the refreshments for the wedding reception (served after a late afternoon or early evening wedding) follow closely the routine of a formal luncheon, and one waiter or waitress should be provided for each seven or eight guests.

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The small tables should hold only, in addition to the flowers, the individual cover service and the hors d’oeuvres. For the buffet refreshments, one large, handsomely decorated table is provided, gay with shaded lights, flowers, garnished platters of salad, patties or croquettes and dainty dishes of sandwiches, break sticks and fancy cakes.

The different dishes are served directly from the table by the waiters, and, as a rule, the portions of salad and hot dishes are placed on the same plate with a roll and a couple of sandwiches. The frozen dainty and cake are served in the same way, being brought in from the pantry. With an iced punch or cup, especially if the day is sultry, coffee may be dispensed with, although if refreshments are provided for the evening, a demi-tasse of black coffee will be appreciated.

High points in the menu

In serving the chicken for the wedding breakfast, allow half of a small bird for each guest and cook with the peas a couple of slices of white onion and a few sprigs of fresh mint. The combination of flavors is very good, and when cooked the mint and onions should be removed, a generous amount of butter added, with a little cream, and the vegetable placed over hot water for the seasoning to steam in. Do not use much salt or pepper when seasoning peas.

To prepare the nougat mousse, add one-eighth of a teaspoonful of salt and seven cupfuls of powdered sugar to five quarts of stiffly whipped cream. Beat until very firm and fold in five cupfuls of quartered marshmallows, five teaspoonfuls of vanilla extract, four cupfuls of chopped blanched almonds, two and a half cupfuls of chopped pistachio nuts and one cupful of chopped, drained Maraschino cherries. Turn into small paper cases, arrange in layers in a large pail with a water-tight cover and bury the pan in ice and rock salt for five hours. Freezing creams in paper cases in this way gives a very ornamental service, and it is easily done if paraffin paper is placed between the layers. They are quite as dainty as the individual forms of cream that cost so much when furnished by the caterer.

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In making a number of fancy cakes to serve with the frozen cream, the better plan is to bake a sheet of any preferred cake mixture in a shallow oiled pan. Unmold when cooked, cool and cut in fancy shapes. Ice with different varieties of frostings (colored with various vegetable coloring matter) and ornament with chopped nuts, candied fruits and coconut.

Be guided in serving the bouillon for the wedding reception as to whether the day be hot or cool. If the latter, a cup of hot bouillon will not come amiss, but if a warm June day, serve it either iced or jellied. Be sure that it is really iced, or if jellied have it of that delicious “trembling consistency.” Also, if served cold or in the form of a jelly it must be made rich in body and with a high spicy flavor; otherwise when jellied it will be tasteless and flat.

Costs and quantities

In making up the budgets for the different menus, the prices have been based upon careful shopping, and the home caterer will find that she can obtain a special price on the squabs, served for the wedding reception refreshments, when purchased in sufficient numbers to serve fifty guests.

The recipe for the bride’s cake will make one large cake ample to serve twelve or fourteen people — few bridal parties are larger than this — and the recipe for the wedding cake will serve from fifty to sixty guests, according to the size of the boxes in which it is packed. The boxes are best obtained from the confectioner. Estimates per cover do not include wedding or bride’s cake.

>> Get many more wedding recipes on the next page

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