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What Is A Full Course Meal? - Full Course Meals Explained


Determining whether you’re having a full course meal helps you plan how long your dinner will take and can help you plan for costs. It might even influence how hungry you let yourself get before arriving at the restaurant.

What Are the Courses in a Meal?

Meals are divided into courses, which refers to items served together at once. For example, soup and crackers are a course, as are a salad, dressing, and bread served together. There is usually a pause in between courses, and the parts of a meal are brought out in a specific order. For example, if you order dessert and a main dish — two examples of courses — your entrée will arrive before the dessert unless you specify you want a different order.

Full Course Meals

Full course meals are made up of three courses: an appetizer, main dish, and dessert. Also known as a three-course meal or a standard course meal, you will sometimes see restaurants offering a full menu with these three items.

You can add more courses to a full course meal. This will add to the course length, so a four-course dinner will include an appetizer, main dish, and dessert but also a fourth course — hors-d'oeuvres — served before the appetizer. If you choose a five-course dinner, you’ll get a four-course meal with a salad after the appetizer, before the main dish.

You can adapt the number of courses to suit your occasion. For example, if you’re planning a wedding reception, you will probably want a three-course or four-course meal, since that is standard. The same applies to wedding rehearsal dinners. Very formal dinners may include more courses.

In total, you can have up to 12 courses, which will arrive in the following order:

  • Hors-d'oeuvres
  • Amuse-bouche
  • Soup
  • Appetizer
  • Salad
  • Fish
  • First main dish
  • Palate cleanser course
  • Second main dish
  • Cheese plate
  • Dessert
  • Post-meal drinks and pastries

By removing the cheese plate and Amuse-bouche and keeping the courses in this order, you will get a 10-course meal.

Vegetarian and Vegan Planning

If you want to create a full course meal but you are dining with someone who is vegan, vegetarian or has other dietary considerations, you will want to make sure every course you plan for has options for your guests. This is especially important at an event like a wedding, where there may be a fixed menu.

One option is to make a reservation at a restaurant like Forklift & Palate, which has menus which can accommodate gluten-friendly and dairy-free diners. We also have options for vegans and vegetarians, as well as diners with nut allergies, shellfish allergies, and other dietary needs.

Our location in the Spooky Nook Sports complex allows us to serve large groups and host a variety of special events, private parties, and big groups. Our dining area serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and our sustainable place can serve parties of up to 600 in our atrium. Check out our menu or make a reservation today.

Learn More About Food Etiquette

How To Order A Steak Or Burger
Top Restaurant Menu Terms You Need To Know

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