Serving Food in the Cultural Hall
The cultural hall of the local ward or branch meetinghouse is the venue of choice for many LDS wedding receptions: it’s able to accommodate a crowd, comes attached to a kitchen for food preparation, and is completely free of charge to reserve and use.
If you’re planning on a Mormon cultural hall reception, here are some of the things you need to know about preparing and serving the food.
Reserving the Cultural Hall and Kitchen
Never assume that the cultural hall and kitchen will be available on any given date. Various church events, from Relief Society meetings to Webelos den meetings, may be held in the cultural hall all throughout the week. Before planning anything for the reception, schedule the date with the building coordinator. If you don’t know who ask, the bishop can guide you to the right person.
Rules for the Use of the Kitchen
When reserving the cultural hall, double-check the rules on using the kitchen. Ovens in LDS meetinghouse kitchens are to be used for warming food only, not for cooking. You will need to cook the foods at another location and keep them warm while transporting them to the meetinghouse.
Keep Hot Foods Hot, Cold Foods Cold
You don’t want to get your guests sick because you weren’t probably chilling cold foods or warming hot foods. Foods can be kept warm (140 degree F. or more) in insulated coolers, ovens, crock pots or chafing dishes (remember to bring the fuel and a lighter). Foods can be kept cold(under 41 degrees F.) in the kitchen’s freezer, refrigerator, or coolers (ice blocks melt much more slowly than ice cubes.)
Inventory the Kitchen
Draw up a list of everything you’ll need for prepping and serving your food, then take stock of the kitchen. Is there enough counter space for chopping and preparing your food? What about available oven space or refrigerator space? Peek in all the drawers in the kitchen to see what kinds of silverware, serving utensils, platters, pitchers, and glassware is there. Decide what you plan to use from the kitchen and what you still need to rent, buy, or borrow.
Make a Reception Food Master List
Choose foods that can largely be made ahead of time and tossed, assembled, or re-heated just before the reception. List the steps you need to take in order to prepare all the food for the reception, including what food will go on which serving dish. Post your list in the kitchen so that all helpers can see it on the big day.
Work Out a Food Service System
Between two and four people (1 for each 25 guests you expect) should be involved in preparing and serving the food: a lone person can’t be in two places at once, but five or more people in any one space will just get in each other’s ways. Assign people to different stations, such as food prep, bringing foods from the kitchen to the cultural hall, or keeping an eye on maintaining the food area in the cultural hall to clean up messes and note when things need to be restocked and to cut wedding cake.
Cultural Hall Clean Up
As arduous as it seems at the end of the reception, the cultural hall and kitchen needs to be left as tidy as you found them; wash, dry, and put away all of the dishes and silverware. Wipe down all the counters and empty the trash cans. Know where the ward’s cleaning supply closet is located so you can vacuum the floors in the cultural hall after everything is taken down and put away.
For many LDS weddings, a reception in the cultural hall just makes sense. It is a labor-intensive but cost-effective solution, and if you think you’re up to the challenge then you can pull off a successful cultural hall wedding.
♥ Jenny Evans
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