Your wedding day is probably one of the most important days of your life. Hence, it makes perfect sense to want your wedding day to be absolutely perfect, and in order to achieve that you have to cover all grounds.
Choosing the right wedding menu plays a crucial role in planning the perfect wedding day. After all, the food and drinks you choose to serve will quite literally fuel the party, while also giving you the chance to infuse your personality and style into your unique celebration.
It’s important to note that in order to pull this off and not go broke while doing so, you have to plan accordingly. Food is considered as one of the biggest reasons as to why weddings have been getting more expensive over the years. With the help of this guide, you should be able to plan an amazing menu and hence, a spectacular wedding.
Plan According To Your Budget
Your budget is what’s mainly going to decide the majority of things on your wedding day. As mentioned above, food can be very costly so it’s always better to plan out a budget and then stick to it in order to avoid unnecessary expenses. While there are many ways a couple can choose to save money on their wedding day, understanding how much of it should go where is crucial. You wouldn’t want to spend all your money on decorations and an open bar and be left with nothing to spend on food. If you plan on serving a proper 3-course meal, then you should probably set aside the money you’d need to make that happen.
The cost of a wedding dinner has two main components: the price of the food and the price of serving it, which includes rentals, staff, service charges and gratuities. Generally, a caterer’s bill would have considered these two together, but it may help you to think about them separately and plan accordingly.
For example, if you really want to serve lobster but it isn’t falling within your budget, you could possibly have it served in smaller portions as hors d’oeuvres or appetizer. This way, you can include your expensive dishes and serve them in a more economical way in order to minimize the strain on your wallet.
The Types of Service
An important thing to consider before you can decide on the menu that you want is how you want it to be served. Is food the main focus or will the wedding be more centered around dancing and other activities? Considering this helps you zero in on the kind of food that you’d want on your menu as well.
If the wedding is more food-centric and does not involve a lot of dancing or moving around then serving heavier meals is okay. However, if there are dancing and activities involved, then serving heavy meals would make it harder to carry out the festivities. Hors d’oeuvres and sliders would be more preferable for a wedding that is more happening. Here are some types of service that you can consider for your big day:
This is a very common type of service for weddings, which offers food in courses that are presented on individual plates to guests. This service is ideal for serving more classical cuisine; however, it has the drawback of being fairly expensive. Caterers would require a lot of servers, and cooks to prepare a single meal for 100 people. Not to mention the rental costs of the individual plates and utensils would definitely pile up.
You could call this a more refined version of plate service. In French service, the food still comes in courses but not on individual plates anymore, instead it comes on a large serving dish and is carried to guests at the table. Sometimes, the food is not fully cooked and is completed right in front of the guests on the cart that is used to carry the food around. Guests can either help themselves or usually at weddings, they are served by the server responsible for that cart.
A buffet serves as a great option for a crowd that has picky eaters and one that just loves to eat. Buffets provide the option of being able to serve a huge variety of dishes that can be almost any kind of cuisine. Guests commonly serve themselves in a buffet-type of service; however, you can choose to have servers offer items that are carved or prepared, such as roast turkey or omelets. A buffet might not be as cost-effective, even though you would need fewer servers, as there is a lot more food prepared and associated costs of preparing it.
This type of service is more for couples who are struggling to limit their tastes to specific types of cuisine. Stations help tackle that problem by offering a wide variety of a single cuisine at a single station. Typically serving four to five tables, a single station could offer a wide assortment of tacos. You could even have a station for Japanese noodles, or Italian pasta or even middle-eastern style cooking.
Coordinating stations can be complicated, and a variety of foods can lead to high rental costs. This is why if you’re going with stations, you should limit how many you want according to your budget.
This type of service is bound to get your guests at the table to start engaging in conversation, even if it’s only them asking the other to pass the potatoes. In family style service, the food is set out on the tables on huge platters so the guests can just help themselves to the meal. This casual serving style only has the drawback of making you sure you choose dishes that stay intact over time. There is a lot less staff needed for this option, hence making it the most economical one overall.
Consult Your Caterer
If you’re having trouble finalizing dishes that you’d want on your menu, it’s always a smart idea to consult your caterer. They are professionals who have probably done this for many other weddings and they turned out great, so you should trust your caterer’s expert advice. Your caterer will also be able to guide you as to what kind of dishes might go well with the occasion. They can also suggest cheaper alternatives to some of the dishes if you have budget restrictions.
Most great caterers will offer you the chance for a tasting session and it’s absolutely crucial that you take them up on it. Tasting sessions will give you the opportunity not only to judge the quality of the food for yourself, but also determine whether the food should make it on the menu. It’s a great way to know for sure that the food that your guests will eat meets the standard you’d want to set and avoid any unnecessary heartbreak on your big day.
Consider Dietary Restrictions and Allergies
In today’s day and age, there are a lot more people with dietary restrictions. There will be people following specific weight loss strategies, or they might be vegan or might be trying to avoid gluten. Whatever the case, you will have to ensure that this doesn’t hinder your menu or their experience at the wedding.
In order to prepare for those with dietary restrictions and allergies, you need to be informed in advance if there are restrictions. You can do this by either alerting guests to mention any such restriction on their response card or to contact you and inform you of their situation. This gives you and, more importantly, the caterer time to prepare dishes that would cater to those with restrictions. The last thing a chef would want to hear when serving entrée’s is having guests who can’t eat the dish.
Consider Seasonal Foods and Location of the Wedding
A great chef will plan their menus according to what the freshest ingredients around that time or season are. For example, your favorite hot soup won’t be well suited for a wedding in the middle of the summer season. Most ingredients grow in specific seasons and hence are best suited for that season only. You can and should consult your caterer about what ingredients will be freshest around the time of your wedding and plan your menu around that. This will also help you save a bit of money as ingredients specific to a season are usually cheaper during the season they are available.
The location of your wedding will also determine your menu to some degree. For example, if you have a beach wedding, then you might have difficulty preparing elaborate meals. You’d need a lot of items to make it happen, a functioning kitchen probably being the first of your worries.
Make Your Meals Personal
You can opt to share the story of your relationship through the meals you serve. This creates extremely unique and creative dishes that you wouldn’t see at any other wedding since it would be specific to you and your partner. It could be the dish from a special occasion, or even something you both really enjoy.
For example, the pasta you enjoyed on your vacation in Italy, or the first meal that your partner tried to cook for you. It could even be the meal you both shared when you went on your first date, it’s all up to you to get creative and personalize your meals to celebrate your big day. The only important thing is that not all your guests will share your enthusiasm so try to ensure that you limit the personal items on the menu, or go for those you know would be crowd-pleasers.
Diversify Meals and Ensure Ample Portions
When planning your wedding menu, you want to make sure it’s one that’s going to be enjoyed by all the guests. This includes the older and the much younger guests that might be at your wedding. If you have kids at the wedding, then you need to ensure you have some kind of child-friendly option for them to indulge in. It also is a smart idea to ensure that the food you provide is covering all bases: beef, poultry, seafood and vegetables. Your guests need to eat too and by providing all the bases you ensure that no matter their preference, there will be at least one dish for everyone to enjoy.
You can also try and ensure that you cover all the major tastes with your dishes. For example, your menu can provide something salty, sweet, bitter and savory. This limits the chances of guests not finding the kind of dish they’d want to go for and leaves you fully prepared for any preference they might have. You should also make sure to have ample portion sizes for all your guests; it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Giving your caterer an accurate headcount will help you figure out the bare minimum you need, and you should always have more than that. Having extra food is far better than having less, and running out of food during your big day would leave a pretty disappointing impression with the guests.
Unless you have an open bar at your wedding, planning the drinks is relatively easier compared to meals. Even with the addition of an open bar, apart from providing the drinks you don’t really have much to do and can leave it up to the bartender. Considering it’s a wedding and not a club night, you’d want to stay on the lighter spectrum of alcohol and keep it to casual drinks only. Ideal drinks at weddings would be a punch with your preference of drinks, mojitos and cocktails. Caterers could even provide the option of producing signature cocktails for your wedding day that would give the guests something more to remember.
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