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Eat, Drink, and Be Married: 5 Tips for How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Menu

It’s your big day, and you want to serve something special, right? Food (and cocktails!) set the tone for your celebration, so the perfect menu is a huge part of creating a memorable wedding experience. Your menu choices are an important part of sharing your special day with friends and family. And with a little planning, you can dazzle your guests with Insta-worthy dishes and bites. Here are five tips to help you pick the perfect menu for your wedding:

1. Decide On Your Budget Before You Create Your Perfect Menu

Before you start choosing dishes, you need to establish a catering budget for your wedding. Knowing how much you can afford to spend will help you determine what type of food to serve and the serving style.

Several factors influence catering costs, including the number of guests, the type of service, the dishes you choose, and bar options. As you plan your menu, having a budget in place will help you stay on track and wow your guests. And remember, you can create the perfect menu that’s as delicious as it is meaningful on any budget.

2. Choose a Serving Style that Fits You

There are five serving-style options: plated meals, buffet, family-style, serving stations, or cocktail-style appetizers served by wait staff. When selecting a style, think about how it will work within your venue space and the formality of your event.

Plated service is usually more formal. On the other hand, buffet service is more casual, with guests serving themselves. Family-style service is a hybrid of plated and buffet service, where guests are seated at tables, and dishes are passed around for guests to serve themselves.

With cocktail-style service, your guest will enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres and small plates. And then there’s another option; serving stations are the latest trend. Less formal than a buffet, your meal is built around different stations of food with different themes, like a sushi station, a dim sum station, a pizza station, or a carving station.

Work with your wedding reception venue to determine which styles work best for the room layout and wait staff. Most importantly, you’ll need to decide which of these styles fits the wedding experience you’re planning.

3. Personalize Your Menu to Tell Your Story

It’s your wedding, so you want to eat what you like and share it with your guests! Is there a particular food item that means something to you and your partner? Maybe your first date was at an Italian restaurant, so serving Chicken Parmesan is a way of sharing that special memory with your guests. Or perhaps you want to pull inspiration from your family’s recipes. Adding these personal details to your wedding menu will make your guests feel more connected to your love story.

You’ll also want to consider what your guests might like when creating your perfect menu. After all, you want your ideal menu to be a treat for your guests. For example, is your wedding in an area known for certain dishes, like Nashville Hot Chicken or New Orleans Gumbo, that out-of-town guests can’t get elsewhere? Serving this local, popular food would be a great way to make your guests feel welcome in a new town.

Offering various options can help ensure that everyone finds something they enjoy. Do your guests have dietary restrictions or preferences? Maybe consider serving a vegetarian or gluten-free option, so there’s something for everyone and all of your guests can enjoy the dining experience.

And don’t forget about dessert! Dessert is often the highlight of the meal, and you want to make sure it’s memorable. So think outside the box and offer a station with a dessert mash-up like ice cream waffle cone “tacos” or a sundae on a stick.

4. Choose a Theme for Your Wedding

Choosing a theme is another way to put your stamp on your big day! A theme can help guide your menu choices and make your wedding feel cohesive.

For example, if you’re having a beach wedding, consider serving seafood or tropical cocktails. On the other hand, if you’re having a rustic wedding, consider comfort food like mac and cheese or barbecue.

You can stand out from the crowd with a themed wedding that shows off your unique style. While your locale might influence your theme choice, you can also use other ideas for inspiration. If you have a favorite movie or book, you can build the perfect menu around characters or places in the story. Or, if you have a favorite travel destination, you can create a menu around your favorite vacation.

Your theme might not even be a specific theme. Instead, it might be more of a mood, and your menu can help create that mood with the dishes you choose and the style of service.

5. Consider the When and Where of Your Wedding

Using local and seasonal ingredients supports the local economy and ensures that the ingredients are fresh and at their peak flavor. This can elevate your menu and make it more memorable for your guests. Talk to your caterer about what’s in season and what local ingredients they can incorporate into your menu.

The time of day you’re getting married can impact the type of menu you choose. If you’re having a daytime wedding, you might opt for a lighter menu with fresh fruits and salads. If your wedding is in the evening, you might go for a heartier menu with more substantial dishes.

What’s the most important thing to remember when planning your dining experience? Make it fun. You have a lot of choices for dishes, stations, and cocktails, so take your time and enjoy the process. There are so many ways a perfect menu can come together. The right menu for your wedding is the menu that fits your budget, your style, and your unique story as a couple.