Selecting what your guests are going to eat at your wedding can be one of the most fun (and also most stressful) parts of wedding planning. Check out these ten tips to help you choose the food for your big day, and give your guests a meal to remember.
1. Decide if you would like a sit-down dinner or buffet. Are you looking for a more relaxed atmosphere to your reception, or is a more formal, plated dinner more your thing? Buffets provide your guests with the opportunity to mingle, have more control over what their eating, and sample a little bit of everything. A plated meal will give your reception a more formal feel to it, and you won’t have to worry about Aunt Betty dropping the gravy spoon in the butter. Also be sure to view the pricing options with your catering company. Buffet style dinners tend to be more cost efficient, and can sometimes offer more “bang for your buck”.
2. Consider your guests dietary restrictions and preferences. Have a cousin that’s allergic to nuts? A friend who’s vegan? You’ll want to be sure you have something for these guests to eat. Discuss any special restrictions with your catering company, and be sure to have at least one option that everyone can enjoy.
3. Offer the more expensive indulgences in smaller portions. If you’re looking to cut costs, offering beef or seafood as an appetizer rather than an entree is a great way to save.
4. Stick with your favorites, since it’s YOUR day! Your wedding is unique and special to you, so don’t order foods that you hate. Do still keep others in mind when choosing, however. If sushi is high on the list, consider serving it as an appetizer rather than the main course. You may jump up and down for spicy tuna rolls, but grandma may not share the same enthusiasm.
5. Keep in mind the time of day that you’re having your reception. It wouldn’t make much sense to have a dessert reception during lunchtime, or tea sandwiches for dinner. Also consider the theme of your wedding. Black tie? Don’t serve ribs. Going rustic? Steer clear of the formal dining options. Beach wedding? Think seafood and cool refreshments.
6. Go for a tasting. Now matter how reputable a company may be, their newest signature dish may be nothing to write home about. Take the time to make the appointment and sample dishes that your thinking about serving to your guests. No one wants guests to remember their big day as “the night we had the bad chicken”.
7. Visualize how the different courses will flow, and how the flavors will work with each other. Avoid serving an appetizer that will be so overpowering no one will be able to taste the foods that follow.
8. If you’re offering signature cocktails, think about how they’ll pair with your food offerings as well as your theme. Mai tai’s may not work well with a southern inspired menu, just as pumpkin pie martinis may be too heavy for an August clambake.
9. Explore your dessert options. Don’t like cake? Don’t serve it! A variety of alternatives are available (and trendy) these days to wrap up your wedding day meal. Think pie, cake pops, pastries, apple crisp, and ice cream.
10. Do something unique. I once attended a fall wedding that served hot apple cider donuts on the dance floor right before the night ended. I’ve seen chocolate fountains being used as centerpieces as well as dessert. A little wow can go a long way, and will add a fun element of surprise to the night.
Above all, remember to relax, have fun, and enjoy planning one of the happiest parties of your life.