This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
" In the first place it is necessary, when receiving the order for the 'wedding collation,' to see the premises. The confectioner, chef, or contracting party must view the rooms. The shape of the drawing room or grand hall decides where the bride and bridegroom are to receive their guests.
" The parents of the happy couple' stand at the entrance of the room and receive the visitors as at a ball. The guests then pass on to the top of the room where a small raised dais is usually erected, covered with crimson cloth and snow-white wool or hair rugs. The bride is surrounded by her bridesmaids and pages on the left-hand side, and the groom by his best man, etc., on the right. The dais, chairs, steps, etc., are decorated with garlands of beautiful white flowers, such as edelweiss, azaleas, roses, stephanotis, jessamine, myrtle, violets, picotees, nicotiana affinis, stocks, lili-umcandimum, narcissus, hyacinths, bou-vardia, etc., etc., which are all available, and, being pure white, are used, not only for the reception platform, with its orthodox three steps, but also for the stand or table on which the cake is placed to the left of the bride's platform; and the wedding present table on the bridegroom's right hand. If the presents are very numerous, boards and tressels are used, covered with velvet or plush and lace, generally guipure, to match the round or oval table on which the cake is placed.
A bow-window, an alcove well lighted, or, if a square room, I have seen the hearth used for the reception, whilst a perfect bower of flowers, delicate feins, and feathery green foliage was made over the pier glass, on the surface of the mantle slab, in the grate itself, and wreaths entwined like lattice work depended from the corners of the mantlepiece to the foot of the dais.
"A crimson cloth leads from the door to the reception platform. It throws up the beauty of the bride's white dress, and should it be a widow remarried, with a lavender-gray dress, the effect is equally rich and beautiful. The two chairs, used during long receptions, are generally gilt, covered with crimson Utrecht velvet, preferably, as being a dead color resting against the ivory satin or repp silk of the bride's dress. If a white velvet train is worn, the caterer must have repp chairs, so that the contrast may be perfect. He has all this to consider and arrange.
"Now for the Salle a Manger. Everything that is admissible at a high class ball supper is required here. The people who only offer sandwiches are 'enpugh to make a fellow wild,' as Johnny Toole has it, and they are decidedly not bon ton, even if they offer their guests the forty varieties noticed by 'En Route' on Lang's celebrated buffets. But a nos tnoutons. If more than one hundred guests are to be arranged for, form the buffets round three sides of the room, in the horseshoe shape, it will please the bride and her mother, the feminine deities of a household being peculiarly superstitious, deny the soft impeachment, if they can? But to the caterer these corners are useful. Raise a screen across each angle, pile virgin cork to imitate rock work, also mosses, grasses, ferns, and flowers against it. They make nice places for your 'wash-ups,' and the storage of an ice safe or two, relays of pastry, fowls, etc., etc., and for urns of the larger sixe with tea, coffee, etc., which if near the displayed ices and jellies might do serious damage. At all fashionable and a la mode weddings there are two bride's cakes. The major or best cake in the drawing room and the minor in the refreshment room.