Wedding Menu Tips: 8 Tips for Planning a Delicious Reception Menu
The perfect wedding meal adds to your wedding atmosphere and makes your reception an event with its own flavor.
Planning your wedding menu is about more than a debate with your fiancé about which of your favorite dishes to include; the perfect wedding meal adds to your wedding atmosphere and makes your reception an event with its own flavor.
Establish a guest list and budget
Your wedding menu guest list and budget go hand in hand, so plan accordingly. If you picture your big night as a small affair with your closest friends and family, set a budget for your meal that fits your vision. For a dream wedding that includes everyone one from your second cousin to your favorite co-worker, adjust your wedding menu budget so you’ve allocated the right amount to pull it off. Budget accordingly for all the dishes and unique service options that complete your dream atmosphere.
Consider the timing
When is your wedding meal? Consider the timing of your meal when choosing the right wedding menu for the occasion. Talk to your caterer about the dishes that fit with the timing of your meal. Remember, with today’s wedding there is some room for creativity—that’s why we can serve sweet potato pancakes as one of the sweetest dinner appetizers.
Decide what kind of atmosphere you want to create
Do you want an elegant wedding with a formal feel? A classy casual event with a touch of fun? Or a memorable day with unexpected surprises at every turn? Your menu is just as much a part of creating your wedding atmosphere as your entertainment and décor. If you want to create the ultimate fun wedding menu, ask your caterer about a gourmet popcorn stand, slider food station, and an ice cream sundae bar that your guests’ll love. For a rustic wedding, discuss a sweet after-dinner course of cherry and peach pie, and s‘mores served in mason jars.
Think about service options
How your wedding dishes are served at your wedding can be just as important as what you include in the menu. For a formal feel, host an elegant sit down wedding. Typically, a sit down meal consists of numerous courses over the dinner hour. If you want a sit down wedding dinner, but aren’t crazy about some of the specifics of a sit down dinner, ask your wedding caterer about a semi sit down menu option.
To play up the theme of your wedding, give your guests their choice of themed dishes in a buffet style meal. For a beach theme, serve a variety of dishes you’d enjoy at your favorite lakefront eatery or at your favorite vacation spot. For a twist on the traditional buffet, consider serving your buffet dishes at interactive food stations. Your guests mingle to each food station to enjoy each delectable dish—and enjoy the fantastic company of each other and the atmosphere of your wedding venue.
If you want to bring the buffet to your guests, consider a family style meal. In a family style meal, platters of food are passed around the tables. This is the perfect service style where you want your guests to enjoy their meal with their closest family and friends.
Give your guests choices
You don’t want your guests running out for a meal, so make sure you give them a variety of options to choose from—suitable for a variety of tastes and dietary restrictions. Choose a caterer that can make dishes that fit both categories and makes everyone’s mouth water. To make sure you are aware of your guests’ dietary accommodations, include a line on your response card or online invitation that says something akin to, “please advise of any dietary requirements.”
Give them the cocktails (and desserts!) that complete the evening
If you think that drinks and desserts are completely separate from your menu, think again. A strawberry lemonade loaded with fruit adds to your summer wedding atmosphere and brings back memories of a fresh summer strawberry field. Your guests will remember any delicious and unique berry drink—as long as you choose a caterer that can deliver the flavor and presentation.
For an after-dinner twist and another bit of wedding atmosphere, consider a distinctive non-cake dessert. Choose from any of these delectable and unique wedding dessert ideas: cheesecake, banana foster, ice cream, or our flaming Baked Orange Alaska. Or select a caterer that can make a wedding dessert that is completely and exceptionally you.
Add late night fuel to the menu
A late night menu option is one of our favorite wedding trends, and it’s a big hit with your wedding guests too. If you want to keep your guests dancing the night away, keep them at your reception. Serve them one of these delicious wedding reception late night course ideas that coordinate with your theme. We promise: they’ll appreciate it.
Screen your caterers carefully
The key to a delicious wedding menu: the caterer that prepares and serves your wedding dishes. Make sure you find a caterer that meets both of these criteria; what good is a delicious meal if the presentation is lacking? Use these criteria to find the right caterer for your wedding, and these tips for a successful tasting—and a wonderful wedding reception meal.