Tips for Creating a Memorable Menu for Your Wedding Reception

It seems sometimes that planning a wedding is an exercise in decision making. First, of course, the happy couple needs to set the date and decide on a suitable venue. Then, there are the wedding invitations to be chosen, and the guest lists to be compiled. There are wedding gowns, tuxedos, maids of honor, the best man, the florist; well the list of decisions seems to go on forever. But there’s one area where the decision making process can be fun, and full of flavor. Choosing the menu for your wedding reception gives you a chance to relax, sample some wonderful dishes, and select an array of tasty treats to delight your guests. Here are a few helpful tips on developing a memorable menu that will satisfy you and your guests.

Choose a Caterer that Understands You

The first step is choosing a caterer, and you and your soon to be spouse will want to interview a few. Not all catering services are created equal, and it’s important to find one that is flexible, inventive, and able to accommodate your suggestions. Many caterers have a set list of menus that they bring out for every occasion, and that simply won’t do for your wedding reception. Look for a caterer with a diverse background, who is eager to try new dishes and new ideas for presentation. But remember, the caterer is there to put their expertise to work for you. While you should certainly welcome their suggestions, don’t be afraid to make your own opinions heard.

Choose a Theme

Many couples like to set a theme for their wedding reception, and good caterers are adept at creating these types of menus. You may want to model your menu on regional, or ethnic, favorites. Or you might want to base your reception menu on a favorite meal you shared while dating, or when you became engaged. The theme you set can be simple, fun or elegant.

Family Memories

A favorite choice of many newlyweds is to design a menu around family traditions. Dishes that have been passed down through generations, and that hold cherished memories for family members. This is also a wonderful opportunity to mingle the traditions of the bride and the groom, creating new memories for a newly formed family. In this case you may need to bring family recipes to your caterer, so they can closely replicate these family favorites.

Something Out of the Ordinary

Your wedding reception is a celebration of friends, family and your new marriage. Consider a menu that breaks with stuffy tradition, and dream up something out of the ordinary. Instead of a formal sit down meal, try something fun and frivolous. Perhaps a sushi bar with a trained sushi chef, or a deconstructed picnic lunch. You might take a cue from a favorite pastime, such as baseball, and serve a ball park based menu. This can be a fun way to make your wedding reception unique, and it gives your caterer an opportunity to be inventive.

Dining Stations

Proper sit-down meals are common at wedding receptions, but they can often feel a little restricting and  even downright stuffy. You might consider working with your caterer to create a few dining stations that will allow your guests to build their own menu. These might include a carving station for a sampling of choice prime rib, a pasta station for freshly prepared pasta dishes or even something simple like an omelet station offering a variety of fresh made omelets.

Dining stations get your guests away from the confines of the dining table, and gives them the opportunity to mingle, compare stories, laugh and generally enjoy themselves. A selection of dining stations also allows your guests to build their own meals, which can be a particularly welcome option  for any vegans or vegetarians on your guest list.

Elegant Service

It’s a perennial favorite, because it never goes out of style. A full course meal with table side service is always a welcome treat for both your guests and the wedding party. Choose a selection of your catering chef’s most unique creations, served by classically attired waiters and waitresses. Elegance always leaves a lasting impression, and your guests won’t soon forget this wedding reception.

Taste and Taste Again

Before deciding on your final menu, your caterer should be able to provide you with samples of all of the dishes they plan to serve. This is a vital step in approving any menu, and do not be afraid to dismiss a dish if you don’t feel it is up to your standards.

Planning your wedding and reception does involve a lot of decision making. But deciding on a menu can be fun, and gives you a chance to put a personal stamp on your wedding reception. Put some thought into the menu you choose, and work closely with your caterer to ensure that all of your guests have an occasion to remember.

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