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Next in our “Menu Tour 101” series of blogs designed to break down your event menu, course by delicious course: the first course! It’s generally one plate, and it serves to stimulate the appetite and create curiosity about what’s to come. (Need a refresher on great hors d’oeuvres? We’ve got you covered.)

Remember to keep the first course relatively light, since guests will be enjoying multiple courses throughout the event. If your first course is a salad, you have the option to pre-set it at each place setting, or to serve it to your guests when the time comes. Pro tip: Pre-setting them gives hungry guests the chance to begin eating when seated.

First courses are served — depending on the event — after blessings, toasts or introductory remarks. Talk to your event planner about your vision for the event’s flow, to slate all courses in at appropriate times around your ceremony or program.

Make It Memorable — and Delicious!

Popular first-course offerings are fresh fruit, hot or chilled soup, or salad. Fresh fruit and chilled soups are typically served in the summer months. But if they work with your theme at other times of the year, please let your event planner know. Can’t decide? You can make it a combo and offer smaller portions of a soup and a salad. A real show-stopper is soup served French-style. It’s elegant and fun for guests when servers set down a bowl garnished with “toppings” such as a baguette slice, crab, veggies and sprouts, and then guests watch as the soup is gently poured over top. Consider these tempting and tasty first courses:


  • Classic Caesar Salad of romaine lettuce with roasted garlic Caesar dressing, asiago cheese and herbed croutons. Note that the classic dressing includes anchovies, so alert your event planner of any vegan preferences.
  • Baby Green and Romaine with toasted walnuts, goat cheese, sun-dried cherries, red onions and cherry tomatoes topped with honey vinaigrette.
  • Baby Green and Romaine with candied walnuts, balsamic-marinated pears and goat cheese topped with our honey, thyme and fig vinaigrette.

Soups Served French-Style:

  • Roasted Tomato Bisque with crumbled bacon.
  • Butternut Squash Bisque garnished with caramelized onion. 


Photo by Martin Reardon Photography


  • Fresh Seasonal berries and fruit with a simple citron and vanilla glaze.

Always worth mentioning: Check for dietary restrictions and/or allergies, and let your event planner know as soon as possible. The staff will prepare for these on an individual basis, and substitute if necessary. Your event planner will help you juggle the many moving parts that make an event memorable. Your guests will take note of the vibe created by your attire, decor, floral, lightsand outdoor or indoor venue. What they’ll absolutely remember is the cuisine, so make sure it’s show-stopping. Need a primer on hors d’oeuvres? Take a quick tour so you start your event off right.

Catering is for all of Life’s Special Events

Cuisine is one important piece of the special-event puzzle. Look for a caterer that’s prepared to help you create the celebration that you and yours will cherish for years to come. Your checklist should include:

Weddings are certainly signature events! But you should expect the same level of service for milestone events, birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, sweet 16 parties, galas and black-tie affairs, graduation parties, fundraisers, rehearsal dinners, showers and more.The world is opening up — specifically, the Pennsylvania tri-state area! We’re here for you to put your plans in motion, whether they’re new plans or your plans were postponed. We’re in this together!Schedule a consultation with our event managers when you’re ready to find your place or ready to reschedule your special event. Did you know anevent at home might be an option? 

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Robert Ryan Catering & Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a 5-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couples’ Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venues. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news, and recipes from our executive chef.


Nina Malone

All photos courtesy of Robert Ryan Catering & Design