There is so much to be done when planning a wedding. The guest list has to be formulated, you have to find the perfect dress, scout out the location of your reception and/or ceremony, send out your invitations, and pick out your color scheme. Whew! That’s a ton of work to do, and any bride who goes at this, with or without the help of a planner, knows that the to-do list surrounding her wedding is never ending.
However, once you secure venues and select the wedding party, you can start to plan one of the fun aspects of your big day – the reception! From the music your band or DJ plays, to the cake and your grand entrance, most couples want the guests to be entertained during the reception.
No matter if your guest list consists of hundred of attendees or a small group of family, if you chose to go the traditional route or want to forgo tradition and pave your own way as a bride, there is one thing that ALL weddings have in common. Food. What to serve, how to serve it, and whether or not you should include dessert, are just some of the questions you have to ask yourself.
Whereas the couples of the past pretty much only had the option of catered meals, today’s couple has plenty of options. From five-course meals with servers on standby, to buffet lines and food trucks, there are tons of options for your food choices at your wedding. Below, we provided you with just some suggestion of what you can do for drinks, dessert, and everything in between!
- Cocktail Hour
For a lot of weddings, the waiting period between the time the ceremony ends and the reception begins can prove to be slightly disorganized or awkward. Guests are hungry and ready to get the party started. While the wedding party is busy taking photos, many couples choose to ease the wait for their guests with a cocktail hour.
Obviously, you’ll want to keep the alcohol flowing, and classic options like red and white wine, cocktails, and beer will please the crowd. It’s also a good idea to serve single-bite options and finger foods, so your guests are famished by the time they enter the reception. Items such as breadcrumb coated mac & cheese bites, mini Panini on a stick, mini stuffed peppers, or truffle eggs can all be considered. Don’t forget some simpler snacks for those on restricted diets—gluten-free, diabetic, or vegan, for example.
- Soup and Salad
Couples who expect a delay between the grand entrance and the time the main course is served, or those who decide to have the meal catered and/or served, usually go for a starter course. Instead of trying to decide on a crowd-pleasing appetizer, a soup and salad combo is always a win.
For a spring/summer ceremony, a light soup such as zucchini and yellow squash, or a tomato-mint gazpacho, and an apple pecan salad will do the trick. Fall and winter weddings have more options for soups. Try to go for hearty options such as tomato bisque, butternut squash, or cheddar potato. When it comes to the salad, incorporate dried cranberries and walnuts, or a Caesar salad for a crowd-pleasing effect.
- Dessert Station
Everything from donut bars to make your own sundae bars – dessert items are one of the easiest ways to cater to everyone’s tastes. While you don’t necessarily have to have a big desert menu – after all, the guests will have cake – some couples find it nice to provide a dessert station so guests have the option of customizing their own sweet treats.
For summer or outdoor weddings, you might consider a s’mores station or popsicle stand. For indoor venues, a cookie, donut, or ice cream and sorbet bar are all sure to be a hit with your guests. Not only will they be able to satisfy their sweet tooth, but the choice of extra toppings and add-ons will give them a DIY feel that they’ll love. Plus, it’s family-friendly!
- Food Truck
Everyone’s a foodie these days, and a lot of couples are having fun trying out new ways to dress up comfort food. There’s no better way to do this than by hiring a food truck or two for your big day. It’ll set the tone for a relaxed and fun event, plus many food trucks have delicious fusion fare that you can’t get anywhere else. Your guests won’t forget the Korean-Mexican meal or yummy street food picks from a local food truck.
For those who want something less formal than wait staff, but like the idea of picking out a menu, a buffet style dinner may be something to consider. Offer salad, sides, and main course dishes, but allow the guests to serve themselves. Be sure to offer an ingredient list for those with dietary restrictions.
Keep in mind, however, that it is a good idea to pick at least two entrée options and provide plenty of sides to choose from. For example, you might want to give your guests the option of either chicken or fish, with sides like mashed potatoes or rice, green beans or asparagus, and mac n’ cheese or quinoa. While you do want to go for dishes that are crowd-pleasing, like macaroni and cheese, you want to give options that cater to specific diets, such as gluten free or all veggie options. A lentil stew laced with squash and tomatoes is always a winner.
Remember, no matter what food choice, style, or presentation you decide to go with, ensure that it fits with the overall look and feel of your wedding. For example, if you opt for a black tie affair, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to hire food trucks. Likewise, if you have a casual outdoor wedding, buffet lines might make more sense than hiring a wait staff. As for food, while you will want to serve dishes that you enjoy, you also want to make sure that you have crowd-pleasing dishes that everybody will enjoy and that they can eat.