There are so many things that need to be planned and prepared for a wedding that one can be forgiven for overlooking a thing or two. One such often overlooked part of the wedding day is the wedding menu. A lot of couples quickly decide that they have no idea how to choose their wedding menu and so they just settle for whatever’s offered at the venue or whatever the caterer offers them.
Unfortunately, this is why most weddings have the same boring and simple menu that’s also usually cooked in a mediocre fashion. Hopefully, you’ll choose to break the mold and come up with something a bit more special. And how do you do that? By starting the planning process early and giving careful consideration to everything.
So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most important tips we could think of when it comes to choosing your wedding menu. We’ve also thrown in several more creative suggestions for those that want to really take things up a notch.
As with choosing a wedding venue, settling on the wedding menu can be quite a complicated process with a lot of things to consider. Here are the main points you shouldn’t skip:
- Start planning as soon as possible. As we said above, giving yourself enough time to consider everything is critical here. Too often when planning a wedding, couples are forced to make dozens of last-minute decisions because they didn’t give themselves enough buffer ahead of time. Simply put – there’s always one aunt that decides she’s becoming a vegetarian two days before the big day.
- Figure out what you, as a couple, both love. Whatever you choose for the menu, it’s important that you’re both happy with it. Or, at the very least – that neither of you is unhappy with it. Doing this is easy – just draft a list of what each of you dislikes and give it to your caterer or wedding chef. Those will be the things he or she is going to have to work without.
- Your budget. We didn’t mention this first so that we don’t start our list with unpleasantries, but, unfortunately, the budget needs to be considered every step of the way. Even if you have all the money in the world, there’s no point in wasting – settle on a budget and make sure you’re keeping to it.
- Think outside the box in terms of the types of meals you can serve. The traditional wedding venue consists of a single two- or three-course meal. This doesn’t need to be the case, however – more and more weddings have things such as an outdoor standing buffet, two or three separate but smaller meals that go with the prolonged wedding day schedule, or other, more unorthodox menu choices. In other words – if you’re going to have a “weird” wedding, choose a weird wedding menu as well.
- Are you going to use a caterer or what’s offered on-location? The easiest solution most of the time is to just use the kitchen and chefs that are offered by the venue. This will save you a lot of time and effort but it’s often the lamest and lowest-quality option. Fixed venue kitchens are also typically quite stiff and are not versatile in terms of options they can offer. Picking a caterer that you like can allow you to customize your wedding menu more but keep in mind that most wedding venues don’t allow for outside food services.
- Figure out your guests’ preferences way in advance. This is important not only in terms of their dietary preferences but also for their potential allergies. Most caterers and venue kitchens know to avoid common food allergens but it pays to double-check with each of your guests about their allergies as well as their special dietary preferences. This is a big reason why it’s important to start planning in advance – things like these can be very annoying if you have to do them in the heat of the wedding preparations but are not a problem if you’ve still got months to go.
- The more choices you can offer – the better. Most wedding venues and caterers offer just two or three options in their menus. Finding a caterer that offers more diversity is usually harder and can cost more but it’s also highly appreciated by most guests.
- Try not to skimp on the size of the portions. Another annoying cliché about most wedding menus is that the portions are usually too small. If you want your guests to remember your wedding fondly and especially if you want them to dance non-stop on the dance floor – make sure they are happy not just with the quality of the food but with its quantity as well.
- The season is important too. Weddings are typically prepared months in advance so it’s easy to forget about the season your wedding is about to be in when choosing its menu. Especially if you’re planning an off-season wedding (winter/spring), you should keep in mind that the menu should be appropriate for it.
- Think about what personal touches you can add to the menu. If you’re going to offer the same old menu that everyone else offers at their weddings you wouldn’t be here still reading this article. You probably want a memorable wedding menu, and one way to do this is to add some personal touches to it. The inscriptions on the cake and customized napkins are common ways to customize the tables and the menu but there are other, more creative things you can think of as well. Let’s go over some of them below.
Looking for creativity mere weeks or days before a wedding can be tough because of all the stress you’ll likely be under. However, if you’ve managed to give yourself a bit more time, it’s a good idea to spend some of it thinking about how you can diversify your wedding menu. Here are some cool sources of inspiration that might apply to you:
Most people in the U.S. are not actual “native Americans” – there are people from literally all over the world here, making it one of the most diverse countries in the world! So, why not delve a little deeper into your and your partner’s ethnic heritage and look for something special there? Maybe you have a Polish grandmother and he/she has a Nigerian grandfather? Or, maybe, there’s another cool ethnic combination that can make for a strikingly unique menu? We’re not saying you should go and do a DNA ancestry test or anything like that, but your heritage may be something you can think about.
Think about something you both love. It may be a music genre, a historic era, or some fictional universe you both love. How awesome would it be if you find a way to celebrate the start of your marriage life with a menu that’s themed about something you both really enjoy?
Food that evokes a favorite place
Similarly, basing your wedding menu around a place that you both love can also be really cool. Did you meet somewhere special, be it abroad or in another state? Or, you met in a specific restaurant? Making this the focal point of your wedding menu can make it all the more special for both of you.
Food with a story to tell
Everything can be used to tell a story and food is no exception. Furthermore, almost everyone has interesting family stories about food. If you can’t think of a food-related family story then chances are you haven’t been paying attention when your grandma was rambling on about the time she met your grandad – all 17 times she rambled on about it.
Alternatively, food can tell a different story – about how you and your loved one met, even if it wasn’t in a restaurant of any kind. It could be about a weird food combination you used to joke about – whiskey-soaked cookies or something silly like that. How hilarious-yet-romantic would it be to add something like that to the wedding menu, much to the horror of both the caterer and your parents? After all, that’s what weddings are all about – celebrating you.