7 tips for planning the perfect wedding menu
You have the venue, the dress, the flowers, the DJ and have a vision of exactly how you want your wedding day to unfold. In fact, you may have been dreaming about it for decades. Now’s the chance to make it all happen, but there’s one more—very important—detail to consider: the meal
There’s no disputing that dinner is one of the most important elements of any wedding (we would call it THE most important element, but as caterers, we’re a little biased).
It’s also one of the most sensitive and, at times, contentious aspects of a wedding to plan and flawlessly execute. Not only does the soon-to-be-wed couple need to determine what kind of culinary extravaganza they want to provide to their guests, they need to do it while also considering a range of different tastes, potential food allergies, specialty diets—think everything from vegan to halal to dairy-free—and whether Aunt Mary is going to be offended if you serve fish for the main course. It can be stressful!
And yes, we’ve seen that kind of minutiae put a serious damper a couple’s wedding meal preparations.
Here at Kiss the Cook Catering, our philosophy is simple: this is your big day, so you should enjoy creating the menu of your dreams. Living the moment and loving the moment is everything. But we also get that you want to keep your friends and family happy by serving dishes they, too, will never forget. That can sometimes be a bit of a balancing act. But with the right caterer on board, the entire process can be a lot of fun. It just takes a smart approach.
So, without further adieu, these are our top recommendations for planning the perfect wedding menu:
#1 Fix your budget —You should have a sense of your meal budget before approaching a caterer. That doesn’t need to be narrowed to a perfect dollar figure, but you should be prepared to outline roughly how much you’re prepared to spend per guest. Once you have that number in mind, work with your caterer to build a menu that suits your budget. That may involve some trimming along the way, but a good catering firm should not only be able to work within a range of budgets, they should also be able to provide creative alternatives if a preferred dish is going to break the bank.
#2 Choose a style of service—Will your dinner be a formal sit-down affair? Maybe you prefer a more casual buffet style, or a combination service with plated dishes served alongside a couple of exciting live action food stations?
Bear in mind that different service styles will affect your budget—sometimes dramatically. For example, a plated dinner should include one server per 10-12 guests, whereas a buffet typically requires a server to guest ratio of 1:25.
A buffet allows for more options, while giving guests the opportunity to partake in seconds. A plated meal, on the other hand, offers a more refined presentation, but with set portions and dish selections. There really is no right-or-wrong answer, only what fits your budget and feels right depending on the wedding atmosphere you want to create.
#3 Get inspired by the season—Dreaming of a fall wedding? Then consider drawing inspiration from Fall’s bounty with items such as butternut squash ravioli (everyone’s favourite), or warm apple crumble with homemade ice cream. If yours is a summer wedding, then take advantage of the availability of local produce by stacking your menu with plenty of fruits and veggies. Remember that using fresh, seasonal ingredients also enhances the flavor of virtually any dish and can also help contain catering costs. An added benefit: at a time when locally-sourced ingredients are an important consideration for devout foodies and their cuisine-conscious friends, opting for a seasonally-inspired menu brings added flare and culinary credibility to your menu.
#4 Give a nod to your background—It’s always fun to fuse a range of international flavours into a wedding menu. If your ancestry is important to you and your spouse-to-be, why not add dishes that reflect your distinct cultural backgrounds? We’ve catered plenty of weddings featuring dishes from two or more cultures. It makes for a fun, eclectic menu that offers something for everyone. But making it all work means finding a caterer that has a diverse team of chefs with varying specialties to properly prepare authentic dishes representing those cultures. That might require extra legwork, and be sure to sample any dishes before your big day. A pre-wedding tasting is always essential, but even more so when you want dishes to taste as authentic as possible.
#5 Make it personal—Your first task is to let your imagination run wild by creating a wish-list that your caterer can dive into. What’s the kind of meal that will keep you wishing your wedding day could be every day? Now, if that menu involves Doritos, hamburgers and Kraft Dinner, remember that most weddings are at least somewhat formal events, and eating like a bachelor isn’t necessarily appropriate. That being said, we know just how to elevate your favourite foods into appropriate wedding fare—and we think it’s a great idea to create a custom menu that speaks directly to your unique style and taste. The food can be a reflection of you, whether it’s offering a take on a dish you ate on your first date, or having a late-night food station to play on your love for tacos. Whatever the case, a creative catering company will be able to tell a story through food. This is your event and it should reflect all the things you love, individually, or as a couple.
#6 Choose the right caterer—This is a huge consideration, and one that’s near and dear to our hearts, for obvious reasons. First, there are certain core criteria that any reputable caterer needs to meet. Do they have the experience and expertise to achieve the vision you have for your meal service? Are they both service- and cuisine-focused? Some are great at one, but not both. Do they have experience catering a wedding your size? Some caterers are great with more intimate gatherings, but can’t satisfy the needs of a group larger than 150 people. Do they offer a variety of dining choices? For example, we provide our couples with a range of creative options including barbecues, fun food stations—everything from poutine to pasta stations—and food trucks, to name just a few of our more innovative service options. Other points to keep in mind: Be sure to check references and reviews. Gaining feedback from a caterer’s past clients can help determine whether that firm is right for your wedding.
#7 The Food Tasting—Pay close attention during your food tasting (and again, they better offer one—if not, find another caterer). Is the food the right temperature? Does the quality and presentation meet your expectation? Do you love everything on the plate? A food tasting should be an exciting and enjoyable experience where you connect not only with your caterer, but also the food. It should feel like Cinderella trying on a glass slipper—a perfect fit. If you walk away with a full belly, feeling confident and exhilarated, then you just checked another important item off your wedding planning list.
Let’s work together to plan your dream wedding meal. Contact us now!