Current Trends for your Wedding Menu
By Nicole Fallon
There’s no doubt that food is one of the focal points of a wedding reception. You’d like to offer your guests something different as they celebrate with you, but don’t want to serve the same dishes they’ve had at every other wedding. In this article, catering pros offer their insight into what’s hot on today’s wedding menus so you can wow your guests with a delicious and unforgettable meal.
Honor your heritage
Do you and your fiancé come from two distinct cultural backgrounds? Celebrate your differences with traditional dishes from your corner of the world. Chris Marino, executive director of South Gate Manor says couples are choosing to showcase their ethnicities during cocktail hour with themed stations featuring foods from their cultures. If your caterer doesn’t make any dishes that match your heritage, see if they’d be willing to work with a specialized outside caterer, or even adapt an old family recipe for your reception. It might not be exactly like Grandma’s, but it will bring your background into your celebration.
Pick your favorites
While it’s good to keep your guests’ tastes in mind when choosing your menu, you’re entitled to include some of your favorite foods. Use your reception to offer your guests food you both enjoy. Love grilling burgers at home? Serve cheeseburger sliders as hors d’oeuvres. If you have a favorite cocktail, consider making it your signature drink. And who says you can’t have a sundae bar during dessert if ice cream is a nightly ritual for you? Guests that know you well will smile when they see your old favorites pop up throughout the night.
Tell a story
Think about experiences you’ve had as a couple and whether there are any special dishes attached to those memories. If you went to a Japanese restaurant on your first date, have a sushi station at your cocktail hour or even select a Japanese-inspired entrée choice like teriyaki salmon. If he proposed to you at the beach, offer a variety of seafood as appetizers, or a seafood platter as a main course. You could even incorporate a dish from a trip you took together, or something special that one of you cooks at home. You may also want to write a short retelling of the story behind each dish and display it in a frame next to the food station. If your guests are aware that the food they’re eating has an important meaning attached to it, they’ll feel like they are truly sharing in your life as a couple.
Of course, personalization isn’t just limited to food and drinks. According to South Gate Manor’s Chris Marino, including a monogram on everything from ice sculptures to menu cards to the cake topper, is another way couples are customizing their reception.
An informal affair
Traditional weddings often have seated meals with waiters bringing out the guests’ food. Some couples are choosing to do away with these formalities and host a relaxing cocktail reception instead. “Extended and elaborate cocktail events are replacing the traditional dinner,” said Jeanne Cretella, president of Landmark Hospitality. “It’s popular to give guests a less structured event, which allows an opportunity to offer a wide selection of foods.” Jennifer Hayes, general manager of Vanity Fare agrees: “People definitely seem to be steering towards the informal cocktail reception, and are interested in more finger foods.”
A cocktail reception also means that there are no official seating arrangements, so you and your guests will be free to move around the room and socialize without worrying about when the next course of the meal will be served. Depending on how many guests you’re having, you may even be able to save money by eliminating place settings, decorated tables, and meal-sized portions. Venues with beautiful outdoor accommodations like the Garden Oasis at The Chateau Caterers are especially well-suited to informal affairs. “It creates the feel of a destination wedding without the travel expense,” commented Tom Wright, The Chateau Caterers’ general manager.
Don’t be surprised if you’re offered grass-fed beef or cage-free chicken at the next wedding you attend. Serving eco- and animal-friendly meals is rage among environmentally conscious couples. Jeanne Cretella of Landmark Hospitality says that there are a growing number of requests for organic and sustainable dishes, and Landmark’s facilities like Liberty House Restaurant and Stone House at Stirling Ridge are more than happy to oblige. “Our chefs love to work with local farms to get very special small-batch ingredients that taste really fresh,” she commented. A seasonal menu is also a great idea—not only will you be showcasing fresh foods from your region, but obtaining locally grown items is much better for the environment than importing out-of-season ingredients from halfway around the world. Cretella suggests carrying the seasonal theme over into your signature drink with cocktails like mojitos for a mid-summer wedding or apple martinis for fall.
Your wedding day is about you, your husband, and your new life together. Every detail, including the food should be a reflection of you, whether you do this by honoring your heritage, picking your favorite foods, telling a story about you as a couple, or any combination of these. Hosting an informal reception with a menu that’s all about you and is eco-friendly is a great way to make sure your wedding is up with the current trends.