After your big day has come and gone, what do you think your guests will remember most? While it’s unlikely to be the koozies that you spent hours designing, purchasing, and coordinating, or the bridesmaid’s shoes you agonized over for months, one thing that is likely to keep them talking is the food. Food, Booze and Music. Three of the most important aspects of any wedding. As an outward sign of your hospitality and a connected part of the overall guest experience, what you choose to serve your guests on your wedding day is a central part to the guest experience. Well-fed guests are happy guests, and they’re likely to remember the meal for quite some time to come. But, let’s be honest. They will remember it if its good! And they will also remember it if it’s bad. So, how do you go about choosing the perfect hors d’oeuvres, entrées and desserts for the type of wedding you plan to have? We have outlined a few ways below.
It all begins with the “B” word…..Budget
Like every other aspect of planning a wedding, it all has to begin with your budget, especially as food is generally a significant cost. We always tell our clients that the food/alcohol tend to account for 40-50% of your overall budget. So, to say it is important is an understatement. That’s not to say that you can’t serve something delicious if you’re budget conscious. As a rule of thumb, a multi-course, sit down dinner is going to cost more than serving up eats buffet-style. However, it can really depend on what you serve. Think about it this way. When you do a sit-down dinner, you require more rentals, whereas with a buffet, you can get away with one plate for everything and less staffing, but you need more food for the guest. Enough of each item for every person. Typically, food stations are the most fun and creative way to go, but also the most expensive. Do your research to find the best catering company that can work within your budget. Really good ones will get booked up a year or more in advance, so after you have chosen the date and venue, it’s one of the first things that you need to sort out. If you do a hotel wedding, then you don’t need to worry about this as much. Some venues have a list of approved vendors that you need to choose from, while others are more flexible. Look for a company who is innovative and has plenty of ideas to personalize the menu so that your food is a glorious highlight for guests. Make sure they will offer you a tasting before you have to sign a contract and commit. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, right?
Follow the Golden Rule
One golden rule that chefs will usually tell you is to choose your menu to reflect your location and season. You want to make sure the items you are picking are in season at the time of your event and also that the food reflects the weather. Comfort food in winter and lighter items for the summer. Not only does this generally result in the best tasting and freshest food, but it can also help with costs if you focus on seasonal items. For example, if you choose strawberries for dessert when they aren’t in season, they are likely to be smaller and not taste their best. This can end up costing you more money to bring them in. Your caterer should be able to tell you what’s in season and help you build a stunning menu that reflects your tastes, style, and personality.
Take Dietary Needs into Account
When you’re aiming to please your guests, you need to know in advance if any of them have different dietary requirements and preferences, and find options to suit them. This might mean looking at vegetarian, vegan, gluten or nut free options. Always ask about these needs ahead of time and work with your caterer to plan a delicious alternative. Making sure there is an option for everyone is basic hospitality and ensures that all your guests feel comfortable and welcome and that no one leaves hungry. Also, something to consider, just because you are Vegan doesn’t mean that you have to force your ideals on all of your guests. So, make sure you keep them as a focus as well, rather than only taking your likes into consideration. Making sure your wines, cocktails and match your menu are imperative. So, put thought into the bar as well.
Make It Personal
A great and memorable wedding is one that’s full of personal touches, so let your food tell a story. Think about any special memories you have related to food. Are there dishes that remind you of a trip away together? Foods that reflect your heritage and background? Items that represent where you met, where you live, or where you are both from. Philadelphia? Philly Cheese Steaks. Ohio? Buckeyes. Boston? Lobster Rolls. (you get my drift here) Is there a local producer you want to feature, such as a wine or craft beer from your area? It’s these touches which can really elevate a menu and make it special for everyone.
Let them Eat Cake
So many times, we hear clients say that no one cares about the cake. Wrong! Most people LOVE wedding cake as well as dessert. Cakes are only memorable if they are AMAZING. So if you are going to spend your money on one, get the very best you can. You can supplement with a food truck, ice cream station, or lavish Viennese dessert bar. Weddings are for INDULGING…so give your guests a lot of options to do so.
Table 6 Productions