What’s a wedding without food? The answer: not a very fun one!
With seemingly endless food options, deciding on a wedding menu can be an emotional rollercoaster.
It’s easy to get caught up in a windless trance as you browse for ways to spice up your wedding. Nowadays, articles focus on making excessively long lists, which can seem like never-ending torture.
So, today, I’m going to step away from the norm and filter out the best wedding food ideas that we think will have your guests kicking off their shoes and enjoying themselves. Read on.
What Should I Know Before Choosing the Food for My Wedding?
When it comes to wedding food, there are a lot of important things to consider. Here are just a few things you should keep in mind before making any final decisions:
By now, you probably have a wedding venue in mind and are in the process of making arrangements to have them host you for your wedding. So, before anything else, make sure to find out any limitations they may have for hosting your wedding reception.
Some wedding venues provide in-house catering at an extra charge. Others may allow you to bring in out-of-the-house vendors, while others may have a restrictive list of vendors that you may choose to work with.
Regardless of which vendor you choose, make sure they can provide the necessary equipment for the wedding food option you’re considering. You may create a list of your favorite dishes for your first catering meeting so you can see how they use their expertise to create the most exquisite wedding menu specially designed for your event.
Your guests are the most important people at your event. After all, the wedding menu is partly designed to make them happy. So, make sure to consider their preferences, especially if there are any allergies or dietary restrictions.
You may also take a step further to ask their opinion on the wedding food ideas you have in mind or have them suggest some more. You never know; you may get some inspiring ideas from your guests. Plus, it will help you get an estimated headcount of what amounts to make for specific types of food.
Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to choosing your wedding menu is your budget. Be sure to sit down with your partner and figure out how much you’re willing to spend on food before making any decisions.
It’s easy to get carried away and order every other add-on you’re craving to have on that day. But remember, add-ons only upsell the main food menu, where your main focus should be.
You don’t always have to stick to tradition. Nowadays, there are new ways to create more intimate receptions, from people freely mingling while eating, cocktail-hour style, to sitting down together, family-style, at the end of the day.
Here are some popular reception styles to consider:
A buffet-style dinner offers a have-one, have-all option for your guests. It’s a great way to offer variety in a long-table format, where guests line up to choose the cuisines and amounts they prefer.
If you’re considering this format, you’ll need more menu items, which can drive up costs. However, service costs may be much lower since you need more of a self-service style.
Plated Sit-Down Dinner
A plated sit-down dinner is the most common type of reception where guests are typically served two courses (appetizer and main entree) at their respective tables. It’s also common for guests to pre-select their meals via their RSVPs, making it much easier to control the amounts, schedule, and overall vision for the meals.
If you’d like an intimate, more casual reception, feel free to incorporate the style you normally use when dining together as a family at home. So, ideally, you’ll have everyone seated around a long table with platters and bowls of food passed around among one another.
Cost-wise, you’ll likely spend more than you would for a plated sit-down dinner because you may need more menu items and may have less control over the amounts served. Plus, service costs may rack up to make sure everything runs smoothly.
A cocktail-style dinner is becoming more common as there is less pressure to create seating charts or tablescapes. Simply have your guests mingle, dance, or whatever, while they pick snacks or finger foods off trays or grazing tables in advance.
It’s a great option for your guests to munch on whenever they feel like it, provided you have a variety of options that suit every taste. Either way, you’ll likely spend less on food and more on service.
Self-service stations are somewhat similar to a buffet-style dinner, except that guests move to specific food stations dedicated to certain types of dishes. It’s a great opportunity to be creative and express yourself as a couple through, say, a seafood station or right-before-your-eyes whipped-up pizzas made to your liking.
10 Best Wedding Food Ideas
When it comes to wedding food, there are a few things to keep in mind: you want it to be delicious, of course, but you also want it to be show-stopping and memorable.
After all, your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, so why not go all out?
The best wedding food ideas incorporate your personal preferences or tell your love story in creative ways. It’s also a good idea to include a family-owned recipe from each side to commemorate the two families’ cultural fusion.
Whatever path you take, here are some of the best wedding food ideas that are sure to please.
1. Brunch Bar
Keeping guests entertained is as easy as including a “brunch for dinner” option in your food menu. That way, even if your wedding kicks off much earlier in the day, your guests will have delicious treats to make them happy.
Some great options for a brunch bar are snack options like biscuits, waffles, bagels, tacos, salads, or fruits, which make sure everyone is catered for.
2. Traveling Station
A traveling station is always a good idea, especially if you want your guests to continue mingling while enjoying a bite or two. There is no rule book for traveling stations. Simply have your favorites, like seafood like fresh oysters, ravioli, sushi, or popcorn shrimp, swung around in a bucket.
Alternatively, you may consider a stationary self-serve station dedicated to specifics like donuts, pizza, or ice cream.
3. Grazing Table
If you want to indulge your guests with variety, there’s no better way than to have a charcuterie grazing table overflowing with all-you-can-eat meat and cheese spreads.
Focus on making your grazing table appealing and easy for guests to ‘graze’ on, and you’ll guarantee a massive hit.
4. Entree Ideas
On to the deep stuff. Entree ideas are an open playbook. To avoid swimming in an endless sea of possibilities, we recommend choosing a theme, which makes planning quick and easy. Some options to consider are a Mexican-themed menu, California-style cuisine, or a period-in-history menu curated around what would have been eaten at the time.
Some ideas to consider are homemade paella, fish tacos, corn salad, chicken fajitas, French dip sandwiches, cheeseburgers, chili cook-offs, dim sum, surf and turf, poke bowls, salmon, or shrimp. Oh, and don’t forget your colorful, poppin’ salad.
Another great alternative is to go local. You can find out what the locals at your venue enjoy the most and have the meal shine through the event.
5. Finger Foods
Finger foods help keep your guests’ juices flowing, from the hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hours all through the night. Finger food is easy to eat and can be served without plates or utensils. This makes it a great option for guests who are on the go or for those who want to mingle and socialize during the reception.
Not every finger food stands out, though, so consider having some mini Caprese cups or bruschettas to add an Italian touch to your event. Alternatively, sliders and mini tacos are great for adding a familiar taste and incorporating meat and vegetarian options into your menu.
You can add some savory meatballs dripping with flavor or opt for the classic grilled cheese bites with shots of hot tomato soup.
6. On-a-Budget Ideas
You do need to worry about sticking to the budget when you have comfort foods like brisket, fried braised chicken, and soup to feed a crowd. The soup can be meat-heavy or creamy-based or opt for a broth stew.
Rest assured, your guests will enjoy a delicious and filling meal without the add-on niceties that drive up costs. Alternatively, tacos or spaghetti squash use simple ingredients that you can whip up easily and comfortably on a budget.
7. Picnic Basket Meal
Feel free to turn a garden-themed wedding into a picnic reception with a nicely packaged picnic basket meal that includes everything from appetizers to entrees to desserts. The sky’s the limit here, so don’t let anything stop you from flying high.
8. Dessert Remixes
Dessert remixes help add a personal touch to your wedding. Whether it’s decorated cookies, mini pies, milkshake shots, brownies stuffed with Oreos, or ice cream tacos, there are no limits to your creativity.
Nowadays, cakes can take all shapes and forms, so feel free to add your own creative spins and mash-up ideas to old-fashioned wedding desserts.
9. Food and Beer
Food and beer flights are a popular phenomenon among brewery lovers. It’s a great way to get wild and have your guests enjoy a backyard party atmosphere at your wedding.
So, feel free to serve some barbecue staples like burgers, hot wings, and sliders, plus a selection of beer in mini bottles to-go.
10. After Party Ideas
If you want to serve after-party snacks that will last from dusk till dawn, consider fast food favorites with a twist, such as French fry cones. Other options are veggie roll-ups, a falafel cart, chicken spoons, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, or dippables with a signature soup, such as egg and lobster rolls.
Bubble teas could also do the trick and help keep your guests cooled off.
How Much Does Food for a Wedding Cost?
Well, it depends on how hungry you are :).
Seriously though, it varies a lot depending on the size and scope of the wedding. That is the number of guests attending, menu items, styling, service, and catering. As an estimate, food for a wedding could cost between $1,500 to $7,000, with an average spend of $4,618 on food and $2,365 on bar services.
In terms of cost per person, the average is roughly $30 per person. Typically, wedding sizes range between 25-50, 50-100, 100-150, etc. So, you could have a cost of $1,500, $3,000, or $4,500, respectively.
Cost-per-person rates can be higher if you opt to go with more boutique venues like The Peachtree Club, which can go as high as $200 per person.
What are Good Vegan and Vegetarian Wedding Food Options?
No meat, no problem! Plenty of great vegan and vegetarian wedding food options are available. Here are some of my favorites:
- Pizza: Pizza is always a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. It also comes in a variety of tastes, from hand-tossed pies to cheese and veggie toppings.
- Stir Fry: Put your own spin on your favorite vegetables and stir-fry them in your favorite sauce. Serve it with rice or noodles for a filling meal that your guests will enjoy.
- Veggie Tacos: Just like pizza, tacos are an instant crowd pleaser. And with your personal touch, complemented by your signature cocktail, you’ll have a rave later on.
- Penne Alla Vodka: Have fun putting your own spin on the popular spaghetti marinara recipe for your guests to enjoy. The penne vodka sauce is said to be the best sauce you could ever have, and when combined with a slew of vegetables, it makes the perfect entree for your guests.
- Salads: Salads are almost always a safe bet, and there are plenty of variations to choose from. From a potato salad with spring onions and mustard dressing to an asparagus salad with avocado, beans, and almonds, each variation will aim to satisfy.
- Mac and Cheese: Whether it’s a casual night out or a wedding, everyone loves mac and cheese. You’ll have a filling vegan option with this comfort food that you can serve as finger food for guests to grab and eat.
Your wedding menu is as adaptable as it can be. It’s the one special reception you’ll remember for years to come.
So, don’t be afraid to go rogue and serve your guests unconventional food. But if you prefer popular entrees like chicken or beef, feel free to put your own spin on them.
So, as long as your menu has personality, you’re good to go. Just go rogue.
What are the factors to consider in selecting the caterer?
When selecting the best caterer for your wedding, consider their cost, service package, and specialization. The best caterers will provide a reasonable service package compared to the cost and will flawlessly incorporate your wedding menu to bring your vision to life.
If you suspect your caterer is hesitant to deviate from their menus, you should either have them stick to what they know best or hire a caterer willing to branch out from their usual menu without sacrificing quality.
What should I look for in a catering service?
When looking for a catering service, consider the food quality, customer reviews, service cost, catering experience, and any specializations you can leverage for your wedding. You should also consider their availability and location for logistical purposes.
What are the qualities of a good caterer?
A good caterer will have a clear passion for people, food, and ingredients, as well as a track record of catering to successful weddings and special events. They will easily and creatively adapt to custom menus without sacrificing quality and will serve meals on time.
They should also have excellent professional qualities such as communication skills, attention to detail, organizational skills, and proactivity under pressure.