After speaking with your venue and determining who will be cooking, some venues will require you to use their preferred caterer or require a fee to bring in an outside company. The next item on the agenda is putting together wedding menu ideas for your reception.
Wedding menus can be tricky, but the key is to think creatively and take what you already love to eat and simply decide how to present it. These wedding foods range from classics to unique servings that will get your guests talking!
Here are 27 different wedding food ideas that you can use at your wedding reception to make the meal even more memorable.
Appeal to the pescatarians or your guests trying to eat less red meat by offering a seafood option.
From deep-fried clams to lobster rolls and popcorn shrimp, this station doesn’t have to be fussy to be memorable.
Every country in the world has a type of flatbread, and you can celebrate your special day by indulging in many different varieties. Try focaccia studded with olives and topped with olive oil or naan with a selection of hummus and fresh vegetables.
Grazing tables are great for stimulating conversation among guests, especially at smaller functions, as it brings everyone together over a common theme: food!
Typical grazing setups include charcuterie and antipasti boards laden with meats, cheeses, olives, and crusty bread.
A well put together salad can be just as exciting as any meat dish; it just takes a little creativity and a variety of textures, so you and your guests aren’t eating just leaves. Talk to your caterer and be a little bold with your selections.
Also, taking the time to include a well thought out salad can be a kind thought to your vegan and vegetarian guests who have probably already had to eat the same garden salad at every event.
Fresh sushi customized to your guests’ taste is sure to go down a treat. Guests can choose their favorite types of sushi and only take as many pieces as they can reasonably eat instead of being confined to the limits of a full roll.
Ensure there are vegan or vegetarian options for those guests and cooked fish options for anyone who can’t eat raw fish.
Fast Food Favorites
Here’s your chance to be fun and remind your guests that a wedding menu doesn’t have to be traditional.
Choose hamburger or chicken burger slides, fried chicken, or cones of french fries to give your guests something to eat that they associate with comfort.
A summer wedding just says barbecue, doesn’t it?
You may want to consider whether the mess of ribs is worth it, but brisket sandwiches with mac and cheese are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. There are plenty of grilled meats to choose from for a classic backyard barbecue menu.
Surf & Turf
Surf and turf is a classic wedding food for a reason. It’s elegant, often expensive, and a real treat for everyone involved since guests may only have such a dish at weddings and other special occasions.
However, it doesn’t have to be boring! To add some fun to the menu and reduce the potential cost per guest, offer other options like chicken and shrimp or bison and fried oysters.
Taco bars with hard and soft tortillas, fillings like carnitas, or deep-fried fish with plenty of toppings both spicy and cool bring fun and conversation to the meal.
Wedding dinner ideas that allow your guests to customize and control their portions are always a big hit and help the dinner feel a little more informal. It also saves you having to deliver specifics to the catering crew when there are many guests.
While sit-down dinners often include a fish course or fish option, you may be looking for something a bit different that brings guests together and lets them mingle over their food.
Choose the traditional table covered in ice with raw oysters, cooked shrimp, and lobster, or look for something more single-serve with individual cups filled with ice, topped with an oyster on the half shell and a mini bottle of hot sauce.
Brisket & Potatoes
Plated as a traditional main course with a vegetable accompaniment or offered in another form, meat and potatoes remain among the most popular wedding options.
Slow-cooked, smoked, or barbequed are all great treatments to get this relatively inexpensive cut of meat to shine. Pair it with sweet potatoes or purple potatoes for an exciting change to simple mash.
A Caprese salad is just tomato, mozzarella, and basil with a balsamic dressing. To make it something a bit more special, turn the salad into skewers eliminating the need for a fork with a small cup of dressing for dip.
If skewers aren’t the right look, try putting all the ingredients into a puff pastry shell so everything is edible.
Although hamburgers are what many people think of when they hear the term slider, the sky’s the limit. You can turn any sandwich, either hot or cold, into a bite-sized snack. How about little grilled cheese sliders with shots of hot tomato soup for dipping?
Whatever you decide on, make sure to offer a variety of vegetarian and meat options with gluten-free alternatives to the usual white bread.
The social nature of Dim Sum, plus the comfort of Chinese wedding cuisine, makes this an excellent option for your wedding. Guests can choose the items they want from carts or mark them on paper to be delivered to them.
Possible menu ideas include savory dumplings, deep-fried seafood, pork buns, and dessert items like custard buns or small dishes of green tea or matcha ice cream.
Chicken & Seasonal Veggies
A properly cooked chicken breast with seasonal vegetables and a well-prepared sauce can be a beautiful dish to serve your guests. Also, as more people move away from red meat, they’ll appreciate having an option other than steak to choose from.
Who doesn’t love brunch food? Eggs benny paired with mimosas or fruit juices, you can take the fun “breakfast for dinner” idea and elevate it at your wedding. Also, if you regularly go out with friends for brunch, this can be a throwback to those times together.
Items like pancakes and waffles can be shrunk down to one or two bites with tiny cups of pipettes of syrup so guests don’t have to rely on utensils and can eat while they’re mingling.
Healthy and omega-rich fish like salmon makes an excellent main course, especially when paired with appropriately lighter fare.
Salmon is also a versatile ingredient and holds up better than other white fish, so maybe try your salmon barbequed with a whisky mop sauce in summer or smoked with apples and spice for an autumn wedding.
Have a beach or seaside-themed wedding? Set up a station with lobster rolls. Large lumps of lobster meat in a light mayonnaise or butter dressing piled high in toasted buttery buns with or without lettuce.
It’s a straightforward but rich recipe but has clean flavors and oozes luxury.
Served in martini glasses or small bowls, this is an appealing and fun way to serve risotto. It can be prepared in many different ways and then customized by the guest by adding toppings and mix-ins.
When choosing one or two base risottos, pick at least one made with vegetarian stock instead of the typical chicken and alert your vegan guests if there is cream or butter added for extra creaminess.
A seared scallop is a beautiful thing, but they’re more versatile than that.
Chopped up small with citrus, they make a great ceviche or cooked and sliced thin for an ingredient on a flatbread or crusty bread as part of hor d’oeuvres.
Appetizer, soup, main course, and even dessert, ravioli can do it all. Let guests serve themselves at a pasta bar or a plated, seated menu.
Of course, ravioli can also be a dessert, and here is where chocolate ravioli come into play. Chocolate dough encases a sweet filling, and then a chocolate or caramel sauce replaces the traditional pasta sauce.
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms have the same hearty umami punch that meat has and can be tailored to many tastes. This is a dish that vegetarians and vegans will enjoy, as will the rest of your guests!
Try blue cheese and hot sauce to reinvent buffalo style or branch out and try one of the many delicious dairy-free options like cashew cheese paired with toasted bread crumbs for texture.
Depending on your setup, this can be offered as a DIY poke bar or an attended station. Offer toppings that add texture to the soft diced tuna, such as wonton chips, sushi rice, or tobiko.
Whether you offer pre-made options or customize every bowl to your guests’ tastes, poke bowls are easily put together with fresh ingredients. Tofu makes a great alternative to tuna for those who don’t eat meat or fish.
Eating local food has been gaining popularity. Whether your wedding is in your hometown or a destination, look for what the locals do best and let that shine.
Ask your venue what their specialty is or for recommendations for what they would choose. Your guests will appreciate it, especially if it’s a local favorite for them, too.
Veggie Spring Rolls
Whether as an appetizer, during cocktails, or part of dim sum, veggie spring rolls are delicious with many healthy ingredients. Deep-fry them or steam them for two very different experiences.
You can pair it with a rich peanut sauce if none of your guests have allergies or a peanut-free Thai sauce made with soy sauce and brown sugar.
When it comes to bite-sized snacks that pair well with drinks, bruschetta is top of the list. Although traditionally chopped tomato and herbs on crostinis, you can turn them into whatever you would like to serve.
You can serve them during cocktails or as part of a theme such as a barbeque or sea-side tastes.
Grilled Rack of Lamb
Single chops grilled with a crust and mint jam can be fantastic appetizers or serve small racks with the bones frenched as a main meal.
How To Choose a Wedding Reception Menu
Choosing the wedding reception food will require some brainstorming of ideas first. However, before you make too many decisions consult your venue about catering to see if they need catering to be done in-house or allow an outside business to step in.
Account for Season and Setting
Menus generally follow the season with spring and summer foods leaning towards lighter fare and autumn and winter skewing towards heavier comfort food. As a result, you may pick many smaller portions of richer food for your guests’ comfort instead of one big meal.
Of course, if you include barbeque at a summer wedding, you will probably have a protein-heavy menu with lots of sides.
Pick Appetizers, Mains, and Sides
What are your favorite foods? Wedding food should be special to you and your special someone and reflect your taste. It’s possible to plan a menu around one or two central dishes or use that dish to create a complete menu theme.
There are no rules. If you love breakfast food, try mini chicken and waffle appetizers with maple syrup shots and an omelet bar for the mains with different sides. Be creative and make special memories.
Many couples opt for many smaller food stations with tapas rather than a formal entree – this way, you can offer plenty of interesting foods on your wedding menu without worrying as much about people’s preferences.
Consider Service Style
Casual mingling over small plates or a formal sit-down meal can mean very different menus. Consider the attitude of your guests and what makes you feel comfortable, and adjust the size of the meals accordingly.
Plan for Different Dietary Restrictions
Almost any wedding menu ideas listed here will have an easy replacement or substitution with a bit of creativity. Some of those replacements may be just as delicious as the main event.
Ask your guests early what their dietary restrictions are and any possible allergies you should be concerned about, especially allergies like tree nuts that may hide in vegetarian alternatives.
Dietary restrictions don’t limit menus. For many chefs, it’s just a matter of advanced knowledge and permission to be creative to make sure the replacement is as delicious as the original.
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